Camping With Your Dog: How To Keep Him Safe And Happy

Photo via Pixabay by AhiruR

Camping and hiking are great activities nearly year-round, and bringing along your dog is a fun way to ensure you have a companion when youíre headed into the wilderness alone. Many dogs love the outdoors and appreciate the opportunity to run and play without boundaries; however, itís important to remember that pets can get injured very easily during a camping trip, and that they are potentially in danger of being attacked by a wild animal, depending on where you are.

Keeping your pet safe and happy isnít too difficult, however. Being prepared and knowledgeable about the area youíre traveling to is a good start, so talk to your vet before making any trip and assess your dogís health and ability to walk or climb over long distances.

Read on to find out the best ways to keep your dog healthy and happy during a camping trip.

Start slow

If your pet has never been on a camping trip before--or isnít familiar with the area youíre going to--prepare him by spending some time at the local park and going for long walks. Build up his strength and endurance by changing up the terrain a bit, especially if youíre going to be doing any hiking. Take him off the leash for a bit and let him explore on his own (as long as youíre comfortable that heíll come back when heís called). If this is a big trip, or if you plan on being gone for several days, it might be best to leave your pup at home with a pet sitter and wait until a smaller trip comes along.

Bring everything he needs

Itís important to make sure your dog has all the vaccinations heís due for and that heís all set on flea and tick medication before you set out on your trip, especially if the weather is very warm. Bring along extra water and pack some healthy treats in a baggie in case he needs a pick-me-up in between meal times. Every time you take a break, let him rest, too. It might also be a good idea to bring any paperwork regarding his shots, especially if youíre crossing state lines.

Keep in mind that only full-sized dogs should carry packs on their backs, and itís a good idea to invest in one thatís made of comfortable material and wonít fall apart, otherwise your dog may get blisters or suffer from chafing. Get some reflective tape or small lights to put on the pack or on your dogís collar so you wonít get separated at night.

Keep him safe from predators

If you have a good-sized dog, you may only have to worry about bears or other large animals; however, if your dog is small, there are many different types of predators living in wooded areas and around campgrounds. Do some research on the types of animals that live in and around your destination before you leave and consider looking for a trainer who can help your pet learn to avoid them. Common animals such as raccoons are becoming more aggressive with dogs in some areas, according to

As far as large predators go, remember to keep your safety a priority, as well, because you canít help your dog if you yourself are injured. In most cases, itís advisable not to engage in any physical contact with the animal.

ďYou have two choicesócome at them like a predator with an object like a bat, or wait for them to simply go away,Ē advises dog behavioral specialist Beverly Ulbrich.

Remember that many dogs are eager to explore and may run ahead of you in their excitement, which can cause you to become separated. If you think your dog might not be ready to go out on his own, bring his leash so you can ensure his safety.

Author: Michael Bourke (