With many people adding a K9 friend to the pack and a lot of us longing for the outdoors, there are plenty of pups craving an adventure as much as we are. Going camping with your dog isn’t as straight forward as you might think, so we thought we would look at the best way to look after your dog whilst camping.
Meet Eddie, our Border Collie x German Shepherd Cross; we got him well before lockdown, and now there is nothing more that he loves than joining us on a camping trip. In August we went on our first staycation in the Western Highlands. It was our first big trip away with him; a mixture of hotel stays, cabins and lots of wild camping. I think we packed more stuff for Eddie than we did for ourselves.
That one-person bivy tent is going to be a bit of a squeeze – you now have an extra ‘man’ when it comes to tent size. Eddie loves to spread out and isn’t far off man-size, so we took a three-person tent that had a porch. We could leave our bags in the porch, which meant there was plenty of room for the three of us. Make sure your tent has a zip, so you can sleep in peace knowing that your pup doesn’t go for a midnight wander. You can also buy foldable crates, but these don’t work if you are out backpacking due to their size.
If your dog has never seen a tent, then they are probably going to be unsure about sleeping in it. You can set your tent up in your garden or create a den in the living room. Put lots of treats and toys inside and let them wander in on their own. You can then get inside with them and finally pull up the zip. Similar to crate training, it’s about creating a happy place for your dog, so make sure happy things happen inside and they will be more than happy to revisit once you have pitched in the wild.
Dogs need water, so make sure you pack plenty of bottles to cover your own needs and for your dog. Clean water supplies are not always available and dogs can dehydrate quickly if they have been walking or spending time in the sun. Make sure to take a foldable water bowl so you can give them water easily.
We are lucky that Eddie eats dry food and pre-portioned wet food, so carrying his supply was easy. Best to pre-portion each meal in a plastic container so that you don’t attract local wildlife to join the feast. We took a few chewable bones to keep him entertained whilst we were setting up or cooking.
Tents can get very hot, especially when they get exposed to the sun. Some tents have a double door, so you can open both up to get a through draft. It’s worth taking a small tarp that you can get set up when the shade is needed or, if you have more room, cooling mats or raised sling beds are great for keeping them cool.
Dogs are just as susceptible to the cold as they are to the heat. Hyperthermia can happen quicker than you think, so bring a towel if they get wet. As much as the extra heat in the tent is very welcome, the smell of a damp dog probably isn’t. Muddy paws happen on the driest of days so bring enough towels for the trip.
Eddie is a sheepdog by nature, and sometimes wildlife can sneak up on you quicker than you think. You can screw in a ground tether to make sure things are ok when your eyes are on your stove you are not going to herd the local farm unwillingly.
We are still learning a lot on each trip, but we love taking the dog wild-camping and was one of the reasons we got him. You soon learn what works for you and your dog, and it’s all about getting out on an adventure together and giving it a go.
Here is our quick checklist, so you don’t forget the essentials.
Camping with Dog Checklist: