The only thing better than heading out into the wild to soak up some nature is having someone to share that joy with. For many of us, our dogs are wonderful companions that love breathing in the fresh air and beautiful views that camping has to offer. There are a few things to keep in mind when planning a trip with your furry friend to have a stress-free trip. Hopefully the below tips will help make your next camping trip the best one yet!
Photo credit: Jenna Hollman @atlastheadventuredog
1. Be Prepared - Plan for the Weather
There’s nothing worse than being soaking wet while huddled around a campfire or freezing your butt off while trying to sleep in your tent. Its important to always check the weather forecast before heading out on your adventure. Warm days call for cooling items and lots of water and breaks. The evaporating cooling feature of the Kurgo Core Cooling Vest is a great option for keeping your dog at a comfortable temperature on hot days. Make sure to pack a warm sweater or jacket (like the Loft Jacket) and boots (like the Step and Strobe Boots) for your pooch if it looks like it is going to be chilly. A rain jacket is always a good addition too if there is a chance of clouds rolling in.
On particularly chilly evenings it is a good idea to spread out a foil emergency blanket on the bottom of your tent before laying out your sleeping gear in the tent. The reflective foil will help to keep the cooler earth from draining out your body heat as you sleep. A sleeping pad or bed (like the Loft Wander Dog Bed) is a crucial item to keep your pooch separated from the cold ground. Remember to also pack your dog a sleeping bag or some cozy blankets to curl up in when the temperature dips at night.
2. Go for a Test Run
Many dogs get stressed in new situations, so it is a good idea to take a test run before diving head first into the world of camping with your dog. Getting to the campsite only to realize you are missing a crucial item is a sure-fire way to add unneeded stress to your trip. I like to lay out all my gear before I go to make sure I’m not missing anything. Unsure about your gear selection? Take a photo and send it to someone who is more experienced than you if you have any doubts about what gear you are bringing along.
Setting up the tent in your backyard and letting your dog check it out is a great way to get them accustom to seeing "the big tarp-y monster" before you must get them to sleep in it for the first time far from home. Some dogs don’t mind hopping into the tent right away, but others may require some convincing with a few treats and some loving praise. Getting this pre-training done before your trip is a good way to build confidence and allows your dog to feel more at home when in a new environment.
Photo credit: Jenna Hollman @atlastheadventuredog
3. Be Wildlife Aware
One of the reasons we humans love going camping is to get in touch with nature. Smelling the fresh air and admiring tall trees and gigantic mountains can really take our breath away. It is important to remember that we share these wild areas with other creatures and that they need to be respected. Wildlife can be extremely dangerous and should never be approached or fed. A surprised animal is a scared animal, so having your pet wear a bear bell when out on the trail is a good way to let other creatures know that you are approaching.
I always recommend keeping your dog on leash to avoid wildlife conflicts. Dogs may not realize the danger of a calving elk or a baby bear in the distance. Many dogs are prey driven and like to give chase to smaller animals. Others tend to be protective and may end up circling and barking at found animals in the wild. Both dangerous situations are easily avoidable by tethering your dog to you while hiking or to a tree around the campsite. I find the Kurgo Quantum Leash to be one of the best options to have with you as it can convert to many styles of leash depending on the situation. (Without the bulk of having several leashes with you.)
Remember to clean up after your pet and to pack away all food and store it away from your campsite to discourage unwanted visits from wildlife. It is also advisable to pack an air horn in case some furry beast comes poking around your tent at night. Additionally, you should always have bear spray with you in bear country and be educated on how to use it correctly and safely.
4. Get Some Exercise
Once you are settled into your campsite, now is time to explore your surroundings. Dogs love having a job to do so be sure to pack a Kurgo Baxter Backpack and hit the trails near by. Remember to bring a travel bowl and some water with you to keep your pooch hydrated. If there are water sources near by, make sure to bring a Flotation device (like the Surf and Turf Life Jacket) to keep your dog safe while going for a swim. Tiring out your dog is an effective way to keep them calm and quiet at the campsite, ensuring a stress-free evening.
5. Food and Water
Normally I recommend bringing along your dogs’ regular diet. This will keep your dog from getting an upset stomach while away from the comforts of home and lowers the risk of you having to get out of the tent at night for emergency bathroom visits. I like to bring my dog’s kibble in the Kurgo Kibble Carrier to keep it dry and bug free while camping. I normally bring my dog some freeze dried liver for some extra protein after hiking. Be sure to offer your dog plenty of water on your trip to avoid dehydration.
6. Think Safety
Its always a good idea to think about safety when heading out where there is low cell service and few other people. Be sure to let a few other people know when are where you plan to head out on your trip as well as when you plan to return. Additionally, bringing along a Dog First Aid Kit will help give you peace of mind and may end up saving your dogs life in an emergency.
Bringing your dog along on your camping trip can be a very rewarding experience. With some proper planning and a good attitude dogs can be excellent companions while out enjoying nature. Hopefully the above tips have left you feeling more confident and readier to try out something new! Happy Trails, and wagging tails!
Jenna Hollman and her dog Atlas live in Alberta and enjoy all sorts of camping and hiking adventures together. Follow their adventures on Instagram @atlastheadventuredog