How to Hit the Trails and Camp With Your Dog
Happy trails to you…and happy tail wags for your dog! Learn the ins and outs of hiking and camping with dogs before the big trip./
“Ruffing” it with your pup? You’re in for an adventure. The only thing more fun than watching your dog explore the Great Outdoors is doing it with them!
Whether you’re planning a day trip to some local parks, camping in a remote location, or glamping in style, there are some tips you’ll need to know before hitting the trails.
LOOK UP THE RULES
The first rule of hiking and camping with your dog? Know the rules! Regulations may vary, but many U.S. national parks, state forests, campgrounds, city parks and local preserves won’t let your canine companion on the trail. You should always do some online research to find parks, forests and campgrounds near you that allow dogs.
PACK LOTS OF WATER
Make sure your pup has easy access to fresh water so they aren’t tempted by standing water. This could come in the form of a collapsible doggie bowl or a second water bottle specifically meant for them. If you’re thirsty then chances are your dog probably is, too. Plus, what could be better on a long hike than taking a break with your furry friend?
In addition to your dog’s everyday gear, there are some camping-friendly items you’ll be happy to have:
Collapsible doggie bowls: One for food and one for water. This will come in handy when you’re on the go.
Booties: These will help protect your dog’s paws from sharp rocks, hot ground and other rough terrain. Just make sure your dog tries them on pre-trip to get used to them.
Dog first aid kit: Take the first aid kit you already own and throw in some doggie-related items such as iodine for cleaning wounds, tick remover, pet-safe insect repellant and a wax paw protector.
Nail clippers: You might want to trim your dog’s claws before letting them loose in the tent since they can easily tear it to shreds. (You’ve been warned.)
Fine tweezers: Often, ticks will hitch a ride on your dog’s fur. Show those menaces the door by removing them with tweezers.
Collar light: Because we all know how hard it is to spot Spot during those nighttime potty breaks.
Doggie towel: Mud pits can be fun…but not when they’re in your tent. Bring an extra towel to wipe off those dirty paws.
SET SOME (CAMP) GROUND RULES
When you first get to the campground, walk your dog around and let them get acclimated to the area. Allowing them to meet and greet fellow campers will also help them feel comfortable in their new temporary home. Once your pup has the proper lay of the land, strategically pitch your tent so that it’s in the shade. Pro tip: Place a tarp on the tent floor as this will help protect your tent from your pup’s sharp nails.
After the tent is ready to go, hang out inside with your dog, bring in their favorite toy, and set up their dog bed inside so they see the tent as a nice place to rest. Be sure to pack an extra blanket for your pup to sleep with at night when the temperature dips. If your tent has vestibules, this area could be where your dog sleeps or hangs out post-swim to dry off.
LEASH IT OUT
Racoons, skunks and bears, oh my! To avoid any unpleasant run-ins with other furry creatures that call the forest home, be sure to keep your dog leashed and stick to the trail. Easy as that. Not to mention, leashes are actually mandatory at many national forests and parks.
HIKE WITH CAUTION
Immediately intervene if you notice your pup chewing anything. It’s probably just grass, but poisonous plants can definitely put a damper on your day. While thorns and burrs are never fun, “foxtails” are a more serious concern for your camping buddy. Though this plant has an unassuming (and borderline adorable) name, these barbed seed pods can end up on your dog’s fur and migrate to sensitive areas like their nose, ears and eyes. Excessive sneezing, head shaking or eye discharge are all signs that it’s time to head home because foxtails can sometimes find their way into vital organs.
TEND TO YOUR DOG’S BUSINESS
We didn’t write the book on camping etiquette, but we’re guessing that “picking up after your pup” is probably chapter one. You might think you’re in the clear when you’re off the grid, but your dog’s business can cause some serious problems for other local animals and might even impact water supply. Not to mention, it’s just plain courteous to other trail-goers.
All right, take a hike! No, really. Pack up your tent, hit the trail and enjoy Mother Nature in all her splendour. Juuuust don’t forget Fido’s poop bags.