K9 Camping

With the summer season upon us it brings about one of my favorite activities: camping. From the time I was a little kid, I remember taking family trips down to the Black Hills of South Dakota where we would set up our tents, roast marshmallows, and sing kumbaya. Okay maybe not that last part, but camping has made for some great memories throughout my life and it continues to do so to this day. At the request of a fellow traveler and friend of mine, it is my pleasure to introduce some insight on the topic: camping with your K-9 companion!

My entire childhood I had grown up with pets. Whenever my family and I would go camping we typically tried to find a dog-sitter for our our wiener dog Scooby, but every so often we got to bring her along. One might think it would only be a blast to bring the family pet with to camp, but it does have some drawbacks. While the brunt of the hassle probably laid on my parents more so than us kids, there are some things worth noting. Having grown up some and being currently pet-less, K9 camping is all but a theory although still worth sharing with you brave enough to take on the elements with your fury friend!

For the purpose of this entry I've included some tips and info on things to keep in mind to better prepare yourself for your next outdoor overnight adventure.

1. Familiarize yourself with the park or campground regulations.
Most national/state parks or campgrounds have specific rules to follow in regards to dogs. Generally speaking, if permitted, dogs are still not allowed everywhere a person may go. For instance, at Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, dogs must always be on a leash or in a pet carrier at all times. They are not allowed on hiking trails in these two parks, but are allowed in most campgrounds and of course roadways. Think of car access and it is relatively similar to puppy access. 

2. Choose your activities wisely
Some of my favorite camping activities don't always mesh well with having a four-legged friend along. On the other hand, it's nice to have your sidekick with you. Below I've included some of my favorite things to do when camping and whether or not having a dog along would affect those events:
(Note: these are under the assumption the events are taking place in a National Park)
Campfires - DOG
Driving - DOG
Fishing - NO DOG
Hiking - NO DOG
Kayaking - NO DOG
Roadside sites/attractions - DOG
Casual/leisurely walks - DOG

My advice: For the average camper not looking to stray too far from the campground I say bring your pal along. If you're looking to be a bit more adventurous and explore the trails, think about leaving somebody's tail back at home with the nice doggy bed and air conditioning. 

3. Know your dog
Nobody knows your pooch's personality better than you do, so be sure your agenda reflects the type of dog you are bringing along. If your pet is rather lazy and prefers just hanging out, be sure that you won't be running all over the countryside and just the opposite if you have a high energy dog that needs to be moving around, be sure not to keep them cooped up all day in the car or tent. Another thing to consider is your dog's training level. Will they behave properly if wildlife presents itself in their path? Be sure your dog is obedient so that it reduces the risk of any type of accident from happening.

4. Pack accordingly
When out in the wilderness with just your supplies carrying you through the days, the last thing you want is to forget something vital. It's even more crucial to be sure you have the proper things along for your animal. As always be sure there will be enough food and water. Animal waste bags and emergency related items are also handy to have on hand. I always make sure to have a snake bite kit along when going out which in this case would come in handy if somebody gets a little too curious and  has their nose too close to a snake.
*Other items to consider: tweezers/pliers, blanket, booties, nearby vet contact info

5. Do additional research
Some great resources for your next outdoor adventure with your dog can be found on many different sites. For starters I recommend checking out:

All in all, I'm a dog lover at heart. I've grown up with them, they're probably my favorite animal, and shoot I used to work at a vet clinic. With that being said, if I'm planning on doing some serious camping (hiking, swimming, kayaking, really roughing it, I think I'm leaving the pup at home). If I'm taking a quick day trip or even an overnight escape with not much wandering through the woods, I'd bring my dog along! Either way you know you'll still have to

Just wing it.


P.S. If YOU have any of your own experiences you'd like to share, have any questions, suggestions, or topics you'd like to see on TRC please feel free to comment below!


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