“Woof, woof woof woof, woof… AAWOOOOO!?” (TRANSLATION) “Can I come camping with you this time?…PLEEEAAASE!”

Pleading pooch

I didn’t think my dogs would like camping as they are two “spoilt indoor dogs” but that was until I took them camping for the first time and boy, wasn’t I wrong, THEY LOVED IT!… I DIDN’T! But I learnt a valuable lesson from that experience…two words…BE PREPARED (in a positive sense)

I put together this little beginners guide on how to camp with dogs incorporating the story of my (in)experience of camping with my dogs for the very first time. I hope you enjoy

Let me paint the picture for you

Here’s me and my better half going over final preparations for a four-day camping trip….

Mrs – “Camping gear?”

Me – “CHECK!”Checklist

Mrs – “Food & Water?”

Me – “CHECK!”

Mrs – “Recovery gear and 1st aid kit?”

Me – “CHECK!”

Mrs – Dogs & dog stuff?”

Me – ….”WTF?”………

Anyway, long story short, we had just acquired a couple of ‘passengers’ due to our dog sitters bailing at the last minute and I had to pack for them in a rush

Me“Dogs, dog bowls, dog blanket, DONE!”

Now, the dogs, they would have been happy with that. After all, what do they know? They’ve never been camping before  BUT there were a few things that I had neglected to consider that would have made the experience a WHOLE LOT BETTER (actually, lots of things)…

Let me tell you a few of the main things I learnt from that trip that prepared me for much better camping trips together…

 

TRAVELLINGTravelling dog

CHALLENGE –

I soon learnt that travelling wasn’t our dog’s strong suit. They drove me crazy on that one and a half hour journey. Barking, salivating, whining…it felt like a four-hour drive when it was all said and done and it became quite clear that they would require some ‘behavioral adjustments’ in order to get to any future campground (or anywhere else for that matter)

SOLUTION –

I did a bit of research after this trip and formed a simple three step plan which I taught our dogs and made a HUGE difference in the way they now conduct themselves in the car. I have dedicated a whole article to this so if your “best friend” isn’t on their best behaviour whilst travelling in your car, I suggest you check it out at Road trips with the dogs. It changed everything and now I can take my dogs anywhere without a second thought

 

 

PLAY

CHALLENGE Playing dogs

The next lesson we learnt was when we arrived at the campground. Our dogs went completely bonkers with excitement when we let them out of the car and they were tugging on their leads so hard they were almost choking themselves, they were peeing on everything, whining and just generally being a nuisance to other campers (and us)

SOLUTION –

We worked out that if we take them to a park, reserve, beach, etc. near to our destination and let them run around, play, go to the toilet and then have a drink it makes them more relaxed and well-behaved when we get there. Simple but effective

Another thing to do is to take any balls and favourite toys that your dog(s) enjoy playing with and spend some quality time playing with your 4 legged friend(s) every day you’re away. This helps them burn off some energy during the day plus it will assist in making them feel more content and at ease in their new surroundings

 

ENVIRONMENT

CHALLENGE –

We found our dogs to be unsettled on the first day and this was probably due to a combination of unfamiliar people, sights and sounds and a lack of attention from us whilst we were setting up camp and we didn’t do much in the way of playing with them or walking them

SOLUTION – Dog exploring

EXPLORE! If possible, take your dog(s) for a walk as soon as you arrive at your campsite. This introduces them to their new surroundings and enables them to take in their new environment. They’ll want to check out everything so be patient, don’t rush them. Take a ball or whatever toy(s) they enjoy playing with outdoors and find a space (preferably where there are not too many distractions) where you can play with them for a while. This will help them become comfortable in their new surroundings

 

FOOD & WATER

CHALLENGE –

Ok, at this point I have to admit that in my haste of trying to get out of the door that first day, I forgot the dog food BUT wait, before you judge me I can assure you they ate extremely well that first night as we gave up a few tasty sausages and some ‘leftover’ steak (I never leave steak on my plate but I did for my little buddies) before going to a local shop and buying dog food for the duration of the trip. Of course I knew then we’ll need to take food for them on future camping trips but what should I pack next time in order to maximise space and minimise waste PLUS be delicious and tasty?…

SOLUTION –

It should go without saying that food and water (along with shelter) are THE most important supplies to take camping. Not only for you but your 4 legged mates as well

Dogs wanting a mealI’m not going to get into ‘diet’, ‘allergies’ and whether ‘grain free’ is the way to go or not and things like that, it depends on a dog’s individual requirements and your preferences as to what you want to feed your dog(s) but I want to suggest that dehydrated meals and snacks are the way to go when camping. Sure you could take some tinned slop… er, I mean food, maybe some (commercial crap) pouches or (contaminated) kibble but for a nutritional, lightweight, cost effective and convenient alternative to those then have a look at the article, Best foods to dehydrate. This will give you some ideas to create your own ‘special blend’ dog food. Try some homemade dog food recipes and turn them into a dehydrated version but be sure to let your little buddies have a try at home prior to your camping trip to make sure that they like them. I’m sure they will as my ‘mutts’ are fussy eaters and they love the dehydrated meals and doggy treats I make them. So much so that it’s what they’re fed at home now but at least I know what they’re getting.  Just remember to make sure your furry pals are having a good drink if eating jerky type snacks

REMEMBER… what goes in, comes out!  Be sure and pack some ‘Doggy Poo Bags’ which you can order online or pick up at your local pet supplies shop. Always pick up their poop and bin it or bury it if convenientToilet time

 

SLEEP

CHALLENGE –

That first trip we had no choice but to have them in our tent with us (remember the bit about not being prepared?) and they just couldn’t relax. They wanted to investigate every sound they heard outside and they were whining and sniffing around and they wouldn’t settle down which of course meant that we couldn’t relax. NOT FUN!

SOLUTION –

The lesson learnt in this case was to provide shelter and outdoor access if they needed to go to the toilet so we decided we needed a bigger tent… Yes, we ended up buying a two-room tent after our first experience. One room for us and one small one for our ‘furry kids’.

To enable them to come in-and-out as they pleased, we purchased a few foldable dog pens and joined them to make a large semi-circle which we placed around one side of the tent so essentially ‘their door’ led out into their own secure yard and we would just leave a small corner of the tent door unzipped at night. PROBLEM SOLVEDDog Sleeping

Now I know that kind of sleeping arrangement isn’t going to be suitable for everyone camping with their dog(s) due to many varying factors so you might have to get a little creative on this one

Some products available that you could purchase and even combine to provide a secure and comfortable spot if you opt to keep your dog(s) out of your tent are: portable dog kennels, tie-out cables, portable dog crates, portable dog houses… Dog tents are even a ‘thing’ these days if you want get them their own little tent

 

OVERVIEW

Well there you have it, the basic (but most important) things we learnt from our first camping trip with our dog(s) which shaped the way we now do it. Of course, over more camping trips we have modified a few more things but the topics I have covered in this article were the GAME CHANGERS.

I hope you have found “How to camp with dogs” both enjoyable and educational and I wish you all the best with taking your dog (or dogs) camping with you. Give it a go…they’ll love you MORE for it 🙂

 

All in

HAPPY ADVENTURES!


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