If you’ve taken in a new addition to the family in the form of a puppy, chances are you’re finding the experience great fun, but also challenging, from toilet training to trying to stop him chewing up all your furniture.
However, if you’re planning on going camping, why not take your pup with you? This will be a great way to show them the great outdoors and share some quality time together.
But before you pack your stuff, there are still some things you need to prepare for beforehand and be mindful of on your trip.
In this article I’ll go into detail about the practicalities of taking a puppy camping. Read on for 10 tips on how to make the trip rewarding and enjoyable for both you and your pocket-sized pooch!
1. Check With Your Vet
Before embarking on your big adventure with your puppy, it’s advisable to have him checked over by a vet. Doing this will bring peace of mind as you’ll know beforehand that he’s definitely up to the challenges of camping.
Also, if there are any issues you weren’t aware of, such as arthritis, you’ll have a better idea of the kinds of activities your puppy will be comfortable with while you’re on your trip.
2. Make Sure Your Puppy Is Protected
When you’re camping, you’re likely to be living among grassy or wooded areas, so your puppy could be exposed to parasites such as ticks and potentially harmful insects like fleas and mosquitos.
Therefore your puppy must be up to date with his shots before your travel to prevent health issues such as heartworm, which can be picked up from mosquito bites.
Puppies should have vaccinations at 8, 12, and 16 weeks, so speak to your vet and ensure he’s up to date before taking him camping with you.
While you’re there, ask for a copy of your puppy’s medication records to take with you in case of an emergency while you’re camping. Also, invest in repellents such as a tick collar for extra protection.
Finally, after you’ve been hiking with your puppy, check him for ticks, particularly under his belly, legs, and around his ears.
3. Train Your Puppy
Camping with a puppy can offer a good way to get him used to interacting with other people. However, as you’ll be all too aware, your pooch will also likely be excitable and lacking in impulse control.
So, before you go, it’s a good idea to train your puppy, so he understands some simple commands such as “sit,” “come,” “stay,” “down,” or “leave it.”
If you’ve instilled in your puppy these basic commands, it will be appreciated by fellow campers. Not only that, but because rural areas offer terrains and temptations your puppy may not have experienced before, these commands can stop your puppy from getting himself into danger.
It’s also advisable to have some treats to hand so you can tempt him with those if all else fails.
4. Choose A Suitable Campsite
Some national forests and state parks don’t allow dogs, so it’s important to research ahead of time where you’re even permitted to camp with your puppy. Once you’ve done that, there are a few other things to consider, too:
Puppies are very excitable and can be distracted by almost anything, from noises to the sight of people passing by.
For the sake of your fellow campers, you should choose a campsite away from others. For your own sake, too, this is a good thing, as the more excited your puppy gets, the more he’s likely to bark. In the interests of your ears, taking him somewhere with minimal distractions is advisable.
Lastly, look for campsites with lots of shade so your puppy doesn’t overheat, as well as somewhere close to trees so you can tie his leash to one.
5. Pack The Essentials
Your puppy will likely be extremely active on your camping trip, so you’ll need to bring more food and water than you’d normally give him.
So, give him one more meal a day, or offer more snacks. Also, ensure he’s given fresh water regularly.
There are several other things you should take with you, too, to ensure your puppy has all he needs. Here are some of the most important:
- Treats – These are particularly important in situations where your puppy refuses to listen to your commands, such as around people.
- Toys – There are likely to be times when your puppy has lots of energy and you don’t, so a selection of toys should keep him entertained.
- Towels – Your puppy is likely to get wet at some point on your trip, so taking a few towels is always a good idea.
- Bedding – Your puppy is more likely to settle in his familiar bedding.
- Bug spray – Dogs, like people, can be affected by mosquitos too.
- Ground stake – This can be handy for tying your puppy’s leash, particularly if there are no suitable trees nearby.
- First aid – Bandages and other equipment to treat minor injuries
- Vaccination and medical records – If your puppy falls ill or picks up an injury that needs treatment by a vet while you’re camping, having these to hand will hugely assist the vet.
- Collar and ID
- Poop bags
6. Be Aware Of Your Puppy’s Limitations
Before you go camping with a puppy, try to assess his personality and energy levels. How excitable is he? If you can’t so much as reach for the TV remote without him reacting as though he’s just been giving a year’s supply of puppy treats, you might want to consider holding off your trip for a few months.
Similarly, if he tires easily, it might be better waiting until he’s developed more stamina before taking him camping.
If you’ve concluded he’s ready for the trip, be aware of his limitations. Most puppies may appear to have boundless energy, but they often become tired quite quickly.
Remember this simple rule of thumb: puppies can generally handle five minutes of exercise for every month old they are until they reach adulthood.
If you’re in any doubt, try taking him out on a couple of mini-trips lasting a day or just a few hours. This will offer a good indication of whether he’s ready for a proper camping trip.
7. Keep Your Puppy On A Leash
The minute you get to your campsite, your puppy is going to want to explore. Not only that but if something frightens him, he’s likely to run.
If he does, your puppy will not consider where he’s running to, but he’s also unlikely to be able to find his way back as well as adult dogs can. Your environment might also have tricky terrain or unexpected hazards that your puppy could get into difficulty in.
Finally, you love your puppy, but not everyone does. If he’s off his leash and wanders into the space of other campers, it may not be appreciated.
Keeping your puppy on a leash at all times is, therefore, a crucial thing to do for his own safety and the consideration of others.
8. Be Prepared To Use First Aid
There are many ways your puppy can get injured while camping, from stepping on something sharp at its least severe to being attacked by another animal at its most.
If you take your puppy on a hike, he could pick up a splinter or a cut relatively easily, so it’s a good idea to take bandages and tweezers with you.
Better still, have him wear dog boots to offer protection.
Depending on where you’re camping with your puppy, wild animals could be a factor. While most animals are likely to steer clear of people, that’s not necessarily the case for puppies, so make sure you have sufficient bandaging, gauze, and Betadine solution for treating wounds.
Make sure your puppy is kept away from campfires, too.
9. Keep Your Dog Warm And Comfortable
Your puppy will not yet have as much body fat as adult dogs, so letting him sleep on your sleeping bag or covering him with blankets will help keep him warm.
Don’t let him sleep on the cold ground either. Put a blanket or two down for him or bring his dog bed.
Don’t forget that you also give off body heat, so cuddling up to your puppy is a great way to keep him warm and comfortable.
10. Stick To A Schedule
Puppies are creatures of routine, and taking him away for a few days can upset his schedule.
Try to keep mealtimes similar to what he’s used to. If he’s house-trained, be aware of the times he usually needs to relieve himself and try to stick to that – as well as the same place each time.
Also, his sleeping will likely be far more consistent if his night-time schedule remains consistent with what he’s used to at home.
I hope the advice I have provided in this article has given you the most important information you need to decide whether your puppy is ready to go camping with you, the preparation needed beforehand, and what to take into account while you’re on the trip.
As I have shown, there is a lot to consider when going camping with a puppy, but none of it should be particularly difficult to put in place.
If you follow the guidance, there’s no reason why taking your puppy camping can’t be a rewarding and enjoyable experience – for you, your puppy, and anyone else you might encounter on your trip.