Are family camping trips really complete without our canine companions? We don’t think so! To quote Lilo Pelekai from the 2002 box office hit Lilo & Stitch, ‘family means nobody gets left behind (well, except for cats. Cats like to stay put, which is also a totally valid choice. Just ensure they’re in the hands of either a catsitter or a cattery!).
If you’ve decided to go camping with your furry best friend in tow, double the fun will mean double the planning. After all, dogs can be high-maintenance, so you’ll need to factor them into your schedule with care. We’re don’t merely mean packing a doggy bag of belongings. We also mean reading ahead about dog-friendly campsites and training your dog for changed-up routines.
For dogs, change can be an adventure in and of itself. But with every Bob and his dog along for the ride, you’ll surely be in for a treat! Here are some tips for camping with canines.
Research dog-friendly campsites
If your dog is joining your camping trip, there’s no show without Punch*. The moment you rock up to a campsite displaying a ‘No Dogs Allowed’ sign, the show’s over—or at least in intermission. What follows is the extended journey to locate an alternate campsite—but then the show’s no fun anymore. (*Also, as a side note: if your dog’s name is actually Punch, we’re patting ourselves on the back. Good dog.)
If you want to avoid having a Snoopy moment, be sure to research in advance. You can ring around to check which campsites accept dogs, or research online. Some websites may contain outdated information, so be mindful to cross-check your sources.
If your dog enjoys off-lead exercise, you may also want to read up on leash laws. Some campsites are only cool with on-lead doggos. Meanwhile, some campsites are okay with off-lead time. Others fall somewhere in between: accommodating of off-lead dogs, provided they’re responsive to vocal commands. These rules may change with the seasons, too, so ensure the campsite’s current climate lines up with your dog’s requirements.
Travel training is a thing, and you may want to consider this if your dog is new to long-distance trips. If you’re familiar with puppy crate training, this is a very similar method. In a nutshell? Allow your dog to forge positive associations with the car. You can do this by placing them in the car with their favourite object or toy. Most effective is their kennel. Because their kennel is their ‘happy place’, they will associate this cosy space with the car. Hence, when the time comes to travel for real, the concept won’t feel foreign. In fact, your dog will associate travel with pleasant feelings.
Prepare for emergency scenarios
Camping trips are meant to be fun. And whilst we can cross our fingers, toes, and paws for smooth sailing, it also doesn’t hurt to prepare for worst-case scenarios. When taking your pet to locations far from home, ensure to prepare and/or bring the following:
Vet records (including health and vaccination records)
Pet first aid kit (including antiseptic, bandages, tweezers, and tools for minor injuries)
Medication, if required (e.g. heartworm or flea/tick medicine. Speak to your vet for advice)
Up-to-date identification (i.e. microchip and/or identification tags on collar)
The name, phone number, and driving directions of the nearest vet or pet emergency clinic.
These supplies are like emergency fire extinguishers: you hope they’ll be unnecessary, but you’ll be super grateful for them if worst comes to worst. If your dog required attention somewhere without WiFi, you’d be frantically holding your phone up high, almost in prayer to Google and the 5G gods. The power of the hard copy is that there is no buffering or lag. Hand-written directions to a local vet are reliable, as opposed to Google Maps without reception.
Now that the safety announcement is over, let’s finish with a list of fun dog accessories to bring camping:
Dog food (and treats!)
Water (for long-distance travel. We recommend a travel water bottle)
Food and water bowls (preferably collapsable for ease of travel)
Poop bags (well, maybe these aren’t so fun)
Dog car seat and cover.
What better way to store dog toys (like a tug toy, left) than in a Training Treat Pouch (right)? Images: Stylish Hound
Here’s to some quality time with your dog
As you can see, traveling with a fur baby onboard takes some extra preparation. But once you look back on the campsite snaps, you’ll see that the work was worthwhile! As your dog is enjoying fetch in the park or joining you on your latest hike, that flurry of pre-camp lead-up will fade away. And although pre-camp preparation is crucial, the payoff is precious memories. So what are you waiting for? Get your dog camp-ready today and go enjoy your next adventure.