As Summer has arrived I’ve seen quite a few people talking about how they’ve decided to try camping for the first time, or writing about their first trip away in a tent with the family.
One of the main reasons I camp is because I can take the dog. My family had a dog ever since I was 8 and we always went away in the caravan with the dog. The added luxury of a caravan comes with an added cost (especially as I’d have to do a towing course as well now) plus we prefer the remote locations and back to nature feel of sleeping under canvas.
So with all this talk of camping I’ve decided to share my top tips for taking your four-legged friend camping with you.
Corkscrew & long lead
Most campsites have a dogs on lead rule, and for good reason, you don’t want to be half way through putting your tent up and suddenly realise your dog is wandering into your neighbours tent.
The corkscrews are really quick and easy (as long as the ground aint rock hard) to screw in and super secure once tightly in. A decent length of rope with a clip tied onto each end gives your dog the freedom to move around without being able to go far, plus if you use rope you can easily change the length. If your dog is a chewer then you can get pet safe metal long lines with a tough plastic coating to stop them from chewing their way to freedom.
Watch your guy ropes
Confession of a naughty dog… one weekend we were camping with friends and Guinness decided to chew through 4 of my friends guy ropes before we finally noticed! He’s never been a chewer, and he wasn’t tangled up, so even I don’t know what he was up to, but for some reason he busied himself with chomping on each guy rope until it went *ping*. Oops.
Plus watch out for the dog + long rope going under and then round a guy rope as they’ll easily get tangled.
Where are they going to sleep?
It sounds like a daft question, but it’s a potentially life changing decision (well, maybe the difference between a good or a bad nights sleep). Dogs and air beds don’t normally mix well, and dogs and camp beds are worse. Even if your dog is used to sleeping in your bedroom at home, suddenly the temptation to lick your face or climb on your head when you’re that low to the ground can be irresistible!
If they’re used to sleeping in a crate at home it’s well worth taking that with you, or if they use a bed then have that. The new Hi K9 bed I’ve just bought is perfect for camping as it keeps them up off the damp floor. If you’re leaving them in the tent porch then it’s best to keep them on a long line as they can slip under the canvas and be free if they wish to.
Towels & Wet Wipes
Camping often means new places to walk and explore, and this can often result in a muddy or wet dog (plus if its raining all weekend long you’ve still gotta take them out for a wee!). There’s nothing worse than a wet muddy dog in a tent, so thick heavy duty wet wipes and towels are essential! Take more than you think you’ll need, you’ll be surprised.
Before you set off make sure your dog is happy with travelling in the car (I would hope you’d thought of this before deciding to go camping) and then make sure you’ve got enough room for everything plus the dog. A roof box is handy for some extra storage or you may even find yourself doing what I have done, and changing to a bigger car.
It’s also really useful if your dog is happy to settle on their own in the car and you can make it safe and ventilated for them. It may be easier to put the tent up without a dog wandering around, tying you up in their lead, and if they can happily and safely chill in the car then voilà. I haven’t yet got a set up for my new car but my old one had a tailgate that could be padlocked shut to allow the boot to stay open while the car remained locked and secure. You can also use reflective window covers, plus non-spill bowls are very useful for water.
Dog Friendly Pubs
After a long day out there’s nothing better than sitting down in a cosy pub, dog asleep at your feet, and enjoying a nice meal. Of course if it’s a nice day there’s normally the option to sit outside, but a dog friendly pub can be that perfect release from the bad weather for a couple of hours or the saviour from having to cook a meal yourself.
Most campsite websites will mention what pubs are nearby and it’s quite easy to look online or phone them to ask if they’re dog friendly.
Don’t have a hot dog
When the sun comes out it can get pretty toasty in a tent and you may not have much shade around you, depending on your pitch. Ensure you have plenty of water for your dog and don’t leave them in the tent in the heat. It’s worth considering investing in a cool coat too, I have the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler which I will be reviewing shortly (so keep an eye on my blog, or better yet subscribe!)
Be prepared to take turns or miss out
Like on any holiday you may be planning on going out and about, seeing things and doing things. Be prepared to take turns when visiting places that don’t allow dogs, such as castles or museums, or you may decided to only find dog friendly places. Even when visiting the shower block on the campsite you will need a rota, it’s not always the best idea to leave your dog alone outside the tent as some will howl or bark, or a well-meaning fellow camper may decide to wander over to your dog while you’re not there to supervise them.
Me & Ash tend to find places to visit that are dog friendly and then if there are any small shops or buildings we wish to go in we’ll take turn. When we visited Land’s End we found we could do most things together and it didn’t take long to pop in and out of the buildings.
I hope this has given you a few little helpful tips and ideas, camping really is a great way to get away with the whole family, even if the family is just you and the dog!
I’d love to hear from you… are you a regular camper or planning your first ever trip? Do you have any different tips from your own experiences?
Great tips here! I don’t think I’ll ever be brave enough to take our pups camping! I remember taking our JRT camping when I was a child – he didn’t sleep at all. And kept us awake all evening. It was an experience we never repeated!
Oh dear, all dogs are different but the earlier you take them the better they get used to it! My dog travels with me to lots of different places so he doesn’t care where he is, he’ll just go to sleep once he’s had a good run around and play with his ball.
I think we’ve missed the boat with our dogs to be honest! I may let them go camping in the garden with the kids one day but I think I’ll give it a miss otherwise!!
Never to late! I disproved the theory cant teach an old dog new tricks during a university project ;o)