Because all dogs love doing anything and everything with their owners, camping is the perfect activity to bring your best friend along for some family fun!
Just like human personalities, all dogs are unique in the way they behave and how they react when taken on a camping adventure. Imagine all those heady open spaces, a sudden abundance of amazing smells, tasty delights, critters to chase…well, you get the picture.
There’s so much for your dog to do, so let’s avoid the doggie dramas with these 8 simple ways to prepare your family and your campsite.
1. Familiarise them on arrival
Before you let your dog out at your chosen camping spot take a look around for wildlife and other dogs. If present, wait until larger animals like kangaroos or wombats have left before letting your dog out of the car.
That said, if your dog is of the tracking variety and takes off following scents until you think they’ll never come back – it might be a good idea to set them up with their bed, their water bowl and keep them secured on a longer lead, while you set up the rest of your campsite.
Then, when you can give them your full attention, let them off the lead and allow them to get familiar with their new surroundings.
2. Keep to a regular routine
Dogs are creatures of habit. They’re happy and content when their routine simply rolls on and on. Exploring a foreign land may be unusual for your dog, and some dogs may, in fact, find the new experience overwhelming. However, if you keep your dog’s feeding, walks and training to the same time and structure that they are familiar with, your dog will soon be feeling right at home, even though home may be thousands of miles away.
Similarly, if you can avoid changing the type of food you feed your pooch, and also pack a few favourite toys and other well-known belongings such as their bed – your dog will have the best home away from home. And I’ll bet they’ll be dreaming about the camping adventure for months later!
It should be a no-brainer to provide your pet with plenty of drinking water.
3. Ensure they’re well-watered
Always provide clean, fresh drinking water for your dog. Although there may be creeks or puddles nearby for them to drink from, sometimes this type of water source contains bacteria or other nasties that may affect the health of your dog. If you run out of your own water supply, make sure you have a reliable water filtration system to provide drinkable water for everyone on your adventure.
Here’s hoping your dog chooses to drink the clean, fresh water you provide, rather than the algal bloom in the pond over the way!
4. Stop them from scavenging
The smell and sight of food and food scraps left unattended is a magnet for scavenging birds and animals, including dogs from neighbouring campsites. Keep all food (both human and dog food) locked in your car or in a sealed container that animals can’t open or get into.
Mice are notorious for nibbling holes in plastic bags! Dog food is ok for dogs to eat, but it’s not the natural diet of native birds and animals and may be harmful to their health.
Also, be aware of your own dog’s scavenging habits and put a stop to it quick smart. As soon as your dog discovers the tasty treats at other people’s campsites, you’ll have a problem controlling your dog, your dog will spoil other people’s camping enjoyment and you’ll arrive home with a dog that needs to go on a diet!
5. Leave no trace
Most importantly, pack those little black bags or, better still, have a trowel handy to quickly bury your dog’s number twos. Because there’s going to be at least one, often two ‘creations’ per day, per dog – there’s no excuse not to come prepared to clean up after your animal.
If you’re a dog owner like me, you’ll know that no-one hates stepping in doggie dirt more than us! In addition, I’d recommend nominating a ‘spotter’ as well, to help you keep an eye out for where your little treasure’s ‘little treasures’ are lying in wait. For more tips on leaving no trace, check out this article here.
Bring something along to keep your dog entertained.
6. Socialise at the campsite
I’m always amazed at how sociable dogs are. Do you think we’ll ever, EVER see a human run like crazy over vast distances to ‘chat’ to a person they don’t know? No, but that’s what dogs do. And this ‘social-ability’ of dogs is a bonus when you’re camping. One of my favourite activities when camping with my dog is to wander around pet-friendly campgrounds and meet other dogs and their owners. It’s a wonderful way to make new friends – both canine and human varieties.
Plus, bring along a favourite ball or Frisbee for your dog and you may have nearby campers happy to entertain your dog for you, while you relax in your hammock (or vice versa).
7. Health and safety is a priority
Finally, if you’ve been out bush for a wonderful camping adventure, remember to check your best friend for ticks, especially if you’ve visited any tick-prone areas. A tick will be very tiny if it has only recently attached to your dog. You may not be able to see it easily, so be aware of and watch out for tick-induced symptoms that may occur in your dog after a few days. Common signs are a cough, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, shaky legs and your dog’s behaviour becoming unusually subdued.
Of course, get them to the vet immediately at the first sign they may have a tick on them. Tick paralysis is a devastating disease and you need to move fast to save your dog’s life. It’s also a good idea to keep a tick remover in your first aid kit.
So, I hope these quick tips help you achieve maximum enjoyment of the great outdoors with your pooch and create the perfect canine camping experience.
8. Keep them away from fire
Please watch your dog near the campfire and keep them safe. Hairy tails on fire is a doggie drama of the worst kind! From my own pet’s experience, I recommend you avoid this at all costs.
What other handy techniques do you use to master the art of canine camping?
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