There really is nothing like taking time out of our busy schedules to escape the rat race, get out of the city and get back to nature. And who better to share these special experiences with than our canine best friends?
Taking your pet camping with you can turn a good holiday into a great one, as you’ll love seeing your pooch having the time of their life roaming around in the outdoors.
Here are some tips for the next time you and your furry friend head out into the wilderness to camp together.
Book a visit to the vet before you leave
It’s always a good idea to take your pet to the vet before your trip to make sure they’re in tip-top condition. At this appointment, your vet can assess whether your dog is healthy enough to handle both the journey and the camping experience. They’ll also check whether their flea and tick medication is up to date, as well as any vaccination top-ups they may need. Especially in Australia, it’s super important to make sure your dog is microchipped and protected against ticks before heading “out bush.”
Make sure your dog is identifiable
Whether you’re travelling to the local campsite around the corner from your house, or on a long journey to an interstate location, it’s important to make sure that your pet can be identified if they get lost. They should have a tag around their collar that’s easy to read and displays their name, your phone number, and your address. It’s also a good opportunity to make sure that their microchip is registered to the correct address. This will greatly increase their chances of being found and reunited with you if they do happen to wander off on your adventures.
Find the right campsite
After you’ve made sure your furry friend is ready to go, it’s time to start planning. You’ll need to choose a campsite that allows dogs. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue, as lots of campsites allow pets on their grounds. Bonuses to look out for are off-leash play areas, fenced areas, and campsites that are close to dog-friendly walking tracks.
Choose your route
When planning how you’re going to drive to your campsite, or if you’re planning on camping at a few different locations, it’s always a good idea to plan your route in advance. This will mean that you’ll know where to stop for rest, water and toilet breaks, and will ensure that your pooch gets a chance to stretch their legs and go to the bathroom. Aim to stop every two hours to stop, revive, and survive.
Take a pet first aid kit
Something to add to your camping checklist is a first aid kit that’s designed specifically for your dog. These can be bought from any pet store, and usually contain bandages, disposable gloves, scissors, tweezers, and medical tape, as well as an information book of basic medical first aid. Or you can make your own pet first aid kit if you’d prefer. You want to be prepared to help your dog should they get injured.
Bring portable food and water bowls
Portable bowls are usually made of rubber and can be squished down to save space. Not only will they save considerable space in your luggage and in your backpack for when you go hiking, but they’ll ensure your dog has constant and easy access to food and water when they need it.
Make your dog a ‘home away from home’
It’s awesome having your dog come and sleep in your tent with you, as it’s warm, snuggly and you’ll be able to keep track of where they are. Having them inside with you will also keep them safe from wild animals, and prevent them from escaping to raid your camping neighbour’s food stash or digging up your garden.
However, if it’s not possible to have your dog in your tent with you, they should have an enclosed space of their own to sleep in. This might be a portable dog crate or container that your pup has slept in before, or you can set up the attachable awning of your tent and pop your dog’s bed in there.
If your dog tends to run away, you can purchase a dog-safe ground stake and cable. This will allow you to temporarily secure your dog overnight and is also a great way to keep them secure around the campfire when you can’t hold their lead. Whatever you choose, just make sure they’re happy, comfortable, warm and safe.
Use bug spray and check your dog regularly
When you’re camping, you’re going to need to be checking your dog for fleas, ticks, foxtails, burrs, bindis, and thorns much more often than if you were at home. After every expedition, take five minutes to go over your dog’s coat and make sure they’re free from annoying additions. You can also get dog-friendly bug spray from pet stores that will protect your canine friend against midges and other pesky creatures.
Experience the outdoors with your furry pal
Getting out to experience life and the outdoors with your dog is one of the best feelings in the world. Make sure it’s an awesome experience for you both with a little bit of preparation and by following a few handy tips.
Luke Fitzpatrick is an academic speaker at Sydney University via Glecture. He enjoys writing about tech, productivity, lifestyle, and is a contributor to Forbes.