By Mychaela Nickoloff
Stop and consider the following before taking your ball of fur with you:There really is nothing like sharing the experience of wandering through wilderness with your furry best friend. They provide great company whether you are trekking on trails or curling up in your tent after a long day. However, when deciding if you should take your dog camping, there are some things to keep in mind that can be easy to overlook.
It’s a sad but true fact that there are some campgrounds or thru-hikes where it’s not a good idea to take your pup. Consider your dog’s age. As dogs enter into later life, they can be quick to tire out and give up on long hikes. Similarly, young puppies can often become paranoid and/or anxious in new surroundings. You should also consider your dog’s breed and demeanor. Do they have a tendency to bolt when they catch a whiff of something interesting? Do they become aggressive when around other people or animals? Also consider that shorter nosed dogs (eg Brachycephalic breeds) are more at risk of overheating.
Don’t feel bad if your gut says they shouldn’t go. Of course, you know your dog best. If it works—take them! If you have some doubts—leave your buddy behind.
So, Fido’s got the grit for camping? If that’s the case, you should anticipate bringing about double the amount of water you think you need. This has been a huge mistake I’ve made on past camping trips with my dog. Nobody likes having to cut their trip short due to lack of water. Us humans will drink more water than normal while camping because both the exposure to the elements and extra physical exertion are dehydrating (not to mention the few brewskis you drank by the fire the night before). Your dog is no different, and will probably drink close to double the amount you think they will. Over preparation is key here. If you are using a filtration system instead of packing in water, be sure to collect enough water for both you and your dog each time you fill up.
Before showing up with a dog, do your research on the pet policies of the area you plan to camp in and trails you plan to hike. Many outdoor recreation areas are dog friendly, but there are some popular spots that aren’t. There are many instances where the campground allows dogs, but the nearby hiking trails do not. Even if a campground is dog friendly, they may require your dog be leashed. Most national parks require your dog to be on a leash at all times, and they can often be pretty strict about it. While mildly annoying, these rules are in place for good reason—whether it be for your dog’s safety, or to maintain the integrity of the area you want to check out. While taking your buddy is an asset to you, they can sometimes be detrimental to the surrounding wildlife in the area. Either way, bring an extra long leash if a campground requires it. That way they can still roam around camp while following the rules.
Before your dog’s first camping trip, it’s a good idea to check in with their vet. Make sure they are updated on vaccinations and treatments to prevent them from being harmed in the wild. They could easily pick up a viral disease if they aren’t protected. In the summer, ticks can be a huge issue for dogs. These little buggers carry harmful and incurable diseases such as Lyme Disease, which affect dogs just as much as humans.
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