Have you ever taken your dog on a camping trip? Have you ever spent a lazy afternoon floating down the river with Fido by your side? How about an overnight hiking and camping trip? I have three dogs that seem to know long before we even start bringing the camping bags out that we are going somewhere. They pace and follow us from room to room as we begin our packing adventure; it definitely is not a quiet moment. I would never think of leaving them behind. Our dogs absolutely love the outdoors!
If you are planning to take your dog on any outdoor adventure, prior planning is essential! Taking your pooch with you is much like taking children, you must prepare for them to insure their safety as well as yours and others.
Here are a few tips:
1. Keep your dog leashed, or if allowed; under voice control at all times! Dogs are asked to be leashed for their own safety as much as for the wildlife and other humans. He should have his id tag on his collar at all times. Be familiar with basic animal first-aid for ticks, scrapes or poison ivy and any other emergencies that may come up.
2. Bring some essentials from home, the unfamiliar scents, people, objects and spaces can make the best of dogs nervous. Comfort him by packing a bag with his favorite things from home: blanket/bed, snacks and toys. Anything that makes him comfortable works well. I have one dog that wants to hold on to his stuffed toy the whole time while traveling in the car, and another one that does much better away from home if he has his tennis ball with him.
3. Pick up after your dog – bring lots of plastic bags and scoop it up just as you would at home. Some campgrounds have banned dogs because of the negligence of a few dog owners.
4. Dog manners – your dog should at least have acquired basic training – such as not jumping on people, coming when called and not barking at strangers – even weird strangers, which you are bound to encounter at some time.
5. Plan ahead for everything. Even though no one ever wants to think about having an accident on the road, it does happen. Have a plan (for your dogs) in case of a flat tire, a serious accident, or any other emergency that could happen while you are out. I suggest that you use a dog seat belt; or better yet, have them travel in a carrier. Your dog(s) are depending on you to help them if you can.
6.Keep him hydrated. Dogs and heat do not go well together. Be sure to carry plenty of water, and water him often. We have found out that the backpacks that carry water (sold at bicycle shops) work very well for us. You will have to train your dog to drink from the reservoir, which does not take much if they are thirsty!
7. Learn about your surroundings and prepare for it. Make sure you are aware of the dangerous wildlife, treacherous plants, weather conditions, and any other challenges that you may encounter. If you do not know what you are doing, you might inadvertently be putting yourself and your dog in danger. Use common sense, if your dog is long haired and gets hot easily; do not take him to the desert. He would be much happier going somewhere cooler.
8. If you are renting a canoe, or using an outdoor guide, please abide by all of the rules and take responsibility for your pets. Most businesses expect you to be a responsible dog owner, and they are giving you the privilege to use their services. If your dog is trying an adventure for the first time, please let the owner of the company know, they may be able to help you and your dog feel more comfortable.
9. Camping? Find a dog-friendly campground – do lots of research. Make sure that if pets are allowed, what are the size limits. Are there any restrictions? Do they have a dog run? Are you required to bring and show your dog’s rabies certification? Once there; do not leave her alone in the tent, keep her in sight at all times, and refer to section 4-dog manners. Nothing is more annoying to campers than a dog left barking all day and night.
10. Note that some businesses will ask that you show proof of vaccinations, it is always a good idea to carry a copy of them with you at all times. This is also a good idea in case you have an emergency and you have to take your dog to the local veterinarian. If your dog has special medications, always bring them with you.
11. Last, but not least…if your dog is especially excited, our suggestion is to take them somewhere to let them get some excessive energy released before reaching your final destination. Even a nice stroll in a park will do them good, (and you too!) Your dog will be much more welcomed if he or she is in a calm state of mind.
And most of all….have a great time! Dogs love the outdoors, love exercise and love being with you. Take some lessons from them and enjoy every minute you have with them.