Dogs love camping, so there’s no need to leave the dog at home when you next plan to spend a night under canvas.
The chance to explore new surroundings, discovering fresh new smells and meet new doggy friends is something dogs enjoy and so it is hardly surprising that they get excited when their owners start packing the car with camping gear.
Fortunately there are plenty of campsites throughout the country where well-behaved dogs are welcome. However, to ensure the camping trip runs smoothly there are some precautions that are worth considering before, and during your trip away.
Firstly it is important to contact the campsite before you arrive to let them know you are bringing a dog, as this will help you decide if the campsite is the most suitable for your pet. Not all campsites welcome dogs, but if it’s OK this also allows the site manager to select the best pitch for your needs. It also gives you the opportunity to ask for a pitch that is close to the dog walking area, and away from families or noisy areas that may frighten or over-excite a more anxious or nervous dog. You can also check on dog facilities (such as do they have a supply of poop bags), and then make sure you take more than you need if they don’t have a supply on site.
When you first arrive at the campsite most dogs will be pretty excited, so it is worth finding out where they can walk, be let off lead and toilet directly from the campsite before you arrive. Alternatively check on arrival, so you can take your dog for a walk straight away. This first walk will allow the dog to let off some steam and get over the excitement. He/she will most likely need to toilet, and once they learn the location they will mostly probably use the same area throughout the trip. Of course ensure that you pick up the poop and bring it back with you to place in a bin, as any dog poop left on or a near a campsite will limit how welcome dogs are in that or any other campsite in the future. It’s a good idea to be prepared to occasionally pick up dog mess left by other less responsible dog owners too.
Once you have pitched your tent, take a walk around the campsite with your pet on a lead so that they can get used to all the new sights, sounds and smells. This will also give you the chance to find out if there’s anything that spooks your dog, so you can keep away or train the dog not to be frightened of it or not to bark.
If your dog barks regularly at new sounds, people or dogs at home, then seek assistance from a member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors before heading to a campsite, so you can teach the dog not to bark when camping.
So that your pet does not wander off when your back is turned it is useful to attach him/her to a long line that is clipped to a stake screwed into the ground or another fixed object. You could attach a line between two stakes and clip the dog’s lead to this line so it can traverse the length of the line to give it more freedom. You could also provide it with a fenced-off playpen area, or place an awning up, so its movement is restricted. A kennel and some of the dog’s bedding from home is useful, so it has something that helps it feel relaxed and safe. A water bowl and some shade from direct sunlight are the final essentials.
A tired dog is usually a happy and quiet dog, so getting out and about during the day will ensure they sleep at night. At the very least dogs need two 30 to 60 minute walks a day, while interactive toys such as Kongs stuffed with food, Buster Cubes and Dog Pyramids are ideal for when owners need a rest but their dog still wants to explore the sites and sounds of the campsite.
Cover photo: Roger Hiley, loweswatercam.co.uk