Your dog is part of your family, but is taking him on your next camping trip worth the risk? Here are a few things to consider before loading Fido up for the weekend.
Your dog is a big part of your life, and for most of us a family member. I would love to take Troy camping with me and believe me, he would like to go, but I have a lot to consider before making that call.
Of course, the family all wants him to go and so do I, but on many of our camping trips we go places he just cannot visit, and we would have to leave him at camp in a crate all day.
I don't like the thought of that. He is hot natured, and crates can get scalding in the heat of the south, like in Texas where I'm at.
If you are going to leave camp and cannot take your dog, it may be better to leave them with family.
Here are a few more tips to keep in mind when thinking about taking your pooch to the campsite.
1. Check the local camping regulations before reserving your campsite.
Many camping areas don't allow dogs, have strict leash laws, and or do not have the right place for them to do their business. You don't want to load all your camping gear up and make the trip, just to find out it is not a dog-friendly campground. In many cases like this, it's better not to take your dog.
If you are going to go hiking, then consider the supplies you need for your dog. They will need water, food, and a collapsible bowl.
If you are wanting to take an extended hiking trip and need to carry as little weight as possible, let the dog carry supplies in a backpack built for dogs. A dog can carry up to 25 percent of their body weight on their back.
If your dog is like mine there is no way; we just do not hike enough for him to leave it on.
I admit Troy is a spoiled brat and at any given time he may chase a rabbit, squirrel, or butterfly. And try as I might, he will not come home until he is ready.
I understand that is not a good reflection on my dog training abilities, but it is what it is. Many of you may have similar situations, and it is something to consider before taking your dog camping. To some dogs, squirrels, rabbits, and passing cars are things to chase.
Before you go camping, consider how long your dog will be at camp, whether it needs to stay in a crate, how hot or cold it is outside, if the campsite is secure, if hiking is feasible with your dog, and how well behaved your dog is in an environment like a campground. It may not be worth the risk.
2. Be ready and willing to make the effort.
If you're taking your dog camping, I am assuming the dog is trained and understands your commands. Camping trips provide an excellent opportunity to reinforce good behavior.
There will be opportunities to use existing commands and maybe work on new ones. Camping trips can be a great chance to advance your dog's training.
Camping trips provide you an opportunity to give your dog a new method of exercise. If you take your dog with you on a hike, a swim in the lake, or even on a canoe ride, it can be very beneficial for them. Working on a little water retrieval or even a game of fetch in the campground is something different and much more fun that the average backyard.
Many of us work busy schedules and wish we had more time just to romp and play with our dog. I am guilty of working long days and often a couple of pats on the head, food in the dish, and water in the bowl is the only interaction I have with him.
I enjoy making up for that by taking him camping with me. From the ride in the truck, to setting up the tent, to the ride home, he is right there with me. I think we both enjoy it.
3. Having your dog in the wilderness with you can save your life.
So many of campers and hikers tell of their dog alerting them to the danger they would not have otherwise noticed. The dog often smells, hears, or sees something that their human companion fails to notice.
In some cases, you may just be alerted to a raccoon snooping around, or it could be as serious as a rattlesnake or predator. Either way, you would not have known if it was not for your dog.
If the goal is to make your dog a camping companion, then you need to take them as much as you can. The more the dog learns what he can and can't do the more fun it is to take him. There will be a learning curve for both of you.
You both will learn about many things: ticks, skunks, picking up camp poop, thorns, swimming, slobber on the car seat, and a faithful companion by your side. There are many positives to taking your dog; you can reinforce training, have fun exercising, bond after a long week, feel secure, and teach your dog to camp.
In many cases, there is nothing better.