Camping with Dogs

Picture of a boy and dog at the lake

Tis the season to go camping! Summer is upon us, and many families find themselves with vacation time to spend. Whether it’s loading up an RV or packing a tent, summer is a great time to hit the open road in search of a camping destination. Many campgrounds now welcome pets, making it possible for Fido to join his family on a holiday. Yet bringing dogs along on a camping trip does mean additional forethought and planning to ensure things go smoothly.

Planning for a Camping Trip
Preparing to take Fido and the family on a road trip is a lot of work. The packing alone can feel like an overwhelming task. With Fido along for the ride, there are more logistics to consider. Yet camping with your dog doesn’t have to be a burden. In fact, it can be a big blessing. Taking the time to think through your to do list ahead of time can make the planning and packing portion of the camping trip a breeze. Though a trip can’t happen without planning and packing, it is also important to think through how you will approach different scenarios should they arise during your vacation.

Here are some things to consider when bringing your dog on a family camping expedition:

Be sure to pack a leash.
Though many campgrounds and national parks do permit dogs on their grounds, nearly all of them require dogs to be leashed at all times. Permissible leash lengths vary from six to ten feet in length. To ensure you are compliant with the leash regulations for your campground, it is best to opt for a more conservative number and keep Fido confined to a leash that is six feet in length at the most.

Since most campgrounds and parks do not offer fenced areas for off-leash play, it is wise to plan ahead of time how you will help meet Fido’s daily exercise needs. Many campsites are near to towns who are home to dog parks. Additionally, your campground may have trails where on-lead dogs are welcome to join their owners for a day of exploration and fun.

Carry poop bags with you at all times.
All campgrounds observe their state legislation and require dog owners to clean up after their pets. Though dog parks typically do provide complimentary poop bags, campgrounds and state parks do not. For this reason, owners should come prepared with poop bags from home to assist them with the proper cleanup of all canine waste. To be on the safe side, always bring a few more bags than you think you will need in case an “emergency cleanup” is required.

Have a plan in case you encounter wildlife.
While enjoying a stroll in wooded areas or even on the grounds of a camping facility, it is possible that you may encounter wildlife. While many species of wildlife are harmless to dogs and their families such as squirrels or rabbits, others are more predatory in nature. Most parks require that the species indigenous to the area remain undisturbed. Upon arrival to your campground, it is best to check with park officials to discover what wildlife you might encounter and what the recommended approach is should you happen to come across any.

Find out ahead of time what rules are required at your campsite.
Complying with all campground rules is important for your dog’s safety as well as the enjoyment of all campers on vacation at your camping facility. Upon arrival, it is best to confirm what is expected of your dog, so you can accommodate all regulations accordingly. Most campsites observe strict leash and clean up laws. They may also restrict access to certain areas of the park. Careful observance of all expectations is the key to parks continuing to be pet friendly, so it is important for all owners to do their part to comply with park regulations.

Bring bug spray for your dog.
Summertime + wooded and wet areas=bugs! Since mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects often carry disease, it is important to ensure that your dog is protected. Many dog owners make use of a flea and tick preventative which keeps a dog safe from disease transmission; however, bugs can and will still bite your dog, leaving him feeling rather itchy and uncomfortable. Be sure to pack a bug spray formulated specifically for dog use and to rub your dog down with it on a daily basis for best pest prevention.

Keep your dog quiet.
Dogs who are seasoned travellers are typically the best candidates to take on a camping trip. Most camping facilities do expect dogs to remain quiet. If Fido happens to be a midnight howler or prone to nuisance barking, it might be best to leave him at home.

Always bear in mind that it is normal dog behavior for dogs to bark at unusual sounds. While a small amount of alert barking may be tolerated at campgrounds, park officials will not tolerate what may appear to be disruptions of the peace for other campers. Consideration is key.

Refrain from entering areas that are not approved for dogs.
While dog-friendly campgrounds allow dogs to enjoy many areas of their grounds with their families, there are often certain areas that are reserved for use by humans only. Most often, beaches, public buildings, and some trails are designated “people only” zones. It is important that owners carefully observe these rules even if other campers are not. All it takes is a few bad apples to spoil the good time for everyone, and those who choose not to comply may soon find that Fido is no longer welcome at the campground at all.

Realize that having a dog with you may attract wildlife.
Though having a dog with you often deters some animals from crossing your path, there are other animals who will instantly become more drawn to you. To ensure your safety, it is always best to strictly adhere to marked paths and trails. Be prepared if you travel into wooded areas for backwoods-style camping that you may encounter wildlife that will not necessarily approach in the most friendly manner, and you will need to be prepared to extricate your dog and your family as safely as possible.

Ready for a camping getaway?
Summer is a great time to plan a camping trip for Fido and the whole family. Follow the simple tips in this article to have a camping vacation you’ll never forget!



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