Camping with dogs
See also: Camping skills: How to become an expert
Camping appeals to pet lovers because it means your dog can come along too. But not everyone on the campsite will be happy with pets wandering free around the pitches so it's important that you follow the campsite rules.
There are lots of things to think about when it comes to making life easier for you if you bring your dog camping.
Remember that your dog will love camping as much as you do as long as he’s happy and comfortable. He’ll enjoy being around the new sights and experiences, and he’ll love having the chance to spend lots of time bonding with his family. Involve your dog in whatever you do and reward him for good behaviour and you'll all have a great time.
Here are our top tips for camping with dogs:
1 Do your research carefully, not only for dog-friendly campsites, but for dog-friendly attractions, places to eat and visitor areas, too. Ideally, pick a site where pets are positively welcomed and catered for, not just tolerated. If pets are allowed, check about any extra charges and specific rules that might apply.
2 Before you go on holiday, pitch your tent in the garden to get your dog used to it. It will then be more relaxed staying in one on the campsite.
3 Pack dry food instead of wet – it’s not as messy or smelly.
4 Take food and drink for the journey and have regular comfort breaks – your dog will enjoy a short walk to stretch the legs.
5 It should go without saying, but clear up any mess your dog leaves and dispose of it properly. Bring wet wipes or anti-bacterial hand gel so it’s easy to clean your hands after picking up waste.
6 Take a spare towel to dry your dog after swims or heavy rain.
7 Check your dog daily for ticks and bites. If you’re near to woodland, then also check his footpads for splinters and needles.
8 Tents can become very hot so do not leave your dog unattended (in fact, a dog should never be left unattended period) and watch out for overheating (rapid panting, bright red tongue).
9 Always provide plenty of fresh water – especially if the weather is hot and you are feeding dry foods.
10 Only take a well-behaved pet; dogs that love to bark at strangers – canine or human – will irritate fellow campers, so it might be better not to have them on site with you. If your dog is disobedient, excessively noisy or nervous and aggressive around strangers, then it would be a good idea to try some obedience training before you go.
11 Following on from that, make sure your dog does not scare local wildlife or farm animals.
12 Even the most dog-friendly campsites insist on dogs being on leads around the site, so consider a flexible, retractable lead if you haven’t already got one. Don’t let your dog stray and disturb other campers. It’s easy to forget that there are some people who dislike dogs.
13 A tether (a giant corkscrew shaped contraption that is twisted into the grass and the dog’s lead is clipped or tied to the top) lets you keep your pet secured while you pitch the tent or whenever you need both hands free, such as at meal times. They are widely available in camping shops. Don't go away for the day and leave your dog tied up and don't tie up dogs to trees or bushes.
14 Bringing your dog’s own bed from home will mean that it is in comfortable and familiar sleeping surroundings. A plastic-backed blanket to put under the bed is essential to ensure damp and cold don’t seep through the groundsheet.
15 When it comes to bedtime, opinions vary as to whether your dog should be inside the tent with you, outside in the porch (if you have one). This may well be dictated by the size of your tent. Do not leave your dog locked in your car overnight. If sleeping in the tent with you is a no-no, have a dog-free holiday.
16 Pack some games and toys for your dog to play with. Frisbees and balls are great in campsites with open spaces – some larger campsites even have dedicated dog walking and playing areas – or bring chews or rope toys.
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