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Living in the modern world can be rough at times. Traffic, noise, and crowds can get to you. For many people, that’s a sign you need to go camping. Getting back to nature and “unplugging” can be very therapeutic by helping you relax and de-stress.
That might not sound possible if you have a dog. At the least, you probably don’t want to spend the money boarding your dog while you’re away. Don’t worry, as you can take your dog camping. You just need to prepare beforehand, including making sure your dog is healthy enough for the trip.
Before You Head Out
Dogs love being out in nature just as much as you do. However, you need to properly prepare for the trip so that you can protect your dog from possible health or safety issues. To start, take your dog to your local veterinarian for a complete examination. Explain that you’re planning on going camping so your vet can make sure your dog is physically up to the task. You’ll also need to make sure vaccinations are up-to-date, especially rabies.
Before you head to the campsite with dog and backpack, the Art of Manliness explains you also need to make sure your dog is trained properly. The last thing you want is your dog to ignore your commands and run deep into the woods after some animal. Either at home or with a dog trainer, make sure your pet knows to stop, stay, and drop something from its mouth.
Where To Take Your Dog
Your dog is trained, and the vet says you two are ready for the great outdoors. But where should you go?
First of all, always visit an area or park where camping is approved. Taking your dog out to unincorporated land is always a bad idea. Bring Fido has a great page listing dog-friendly campgrounds that would make great destinations. From Bryn Mawr Ocean Resort in Saint Augustine, FL to Hodgdon Meadow Campground in Yosemite National Park, CA, there are plenty of places where dogs are welcome.
Note that even if you visit a park or camping site known for accepting pet dogs, there are still rules. PetFriendlyTravel.com reports that many require dogs be kept on a leash at all times; to stay out of beaches and buildings; to never be left alone; and to have proof of rabies vaccinations.
Safety Tips While Camping
As your vet probably explained, camping with your dog is not without its risks. Instead of solely focusing on the fun you two can have around a campfire, you need to know how to camp safely.
You know your dog best, so be sure to choose camping activities that match your dog’s personality. Taking an energetic, curious dog to a campground where you mostly sit around can lead to trouble; a stray squirrel or raccoon can encourage your dog to misbehave. Instead, that kind of dog would be safer taking a hiking trip (on a leash, of course).
You also need to worry about pests in nature. You probably have some way of keeping fleas away from your pet, but what about ticks, heartworm, and mosquitoes? This is another reason to work with your veterinarian before leaving home. And to help avoid bigger pests like raccoons or even bears, never leave your dog’s food or water out where other animals can get to either.
Lastly, be sure to follow general camping safety tips. Redfin identifies these as: never cooking inside the tent, changing gas canisters outside the tent, using torches (not lighters and candles), and never pitching your tent under a tree.
Enjoy Nature With Your Dog
Taking a camping trip with your pet is a great idea, but you need to do some work beforehand to make sure it’s successful. Get your dog a checkup first, then find the right campground and activities to do. This can be an amazing experience for your dog — and for you.