Seemingly endless fresh air (and dog friendly countryside smells), heaps of walks and quality time together are just what dogs and their owners love. Yet camping with dogs, although incredibly fun, can be tricky because doggy bad habits don’t generally mix well with tents and campsites. Barking, chewing, running off after a scent, eyeballing other dogs, etc can all cause tension with other campers, not to mention in the confined space of your tent.
If you’re lucky enough to have the saintliest of dogs, then camping will (probably) be a breeze. If, like most of us, you have a less than perfect pooch, then you may want to put some pre-camp thought into making sure both you and your dog (and your fellow campers) are still sane at the end of the experience.
Here are a few things, from our experience, that might be worth considering:
Sniff it out before you go
Tents can be odd, even frightening places, for any dog. Strange noises, even stranger smells, a change of sleeping arrangement, colder temperatures - these can all be overwhelming for the canine camping novice. It will be reassuring to you both if you can successfully spend some time in your tent before your trip, so seriously consider pitching it in your garden for a trial night or at least give your dog a good chance to sniff it out.
Dog friendly campsites are generally full of families, and other dogs. Common sense suggests that if your dog could present a problem or even a danger to other campers, then campsite holidays aren’t the right choice for you. If you’re dog is trustworthy in this respect but you’re still worried about minor irritations, such as the odd bit of excitable barking, then it might be worth taking along something like a windbreaker designed for the beach. These could be erected if necessary to shield your dog from anything that might cause him or her to get a bit overexcited.
What's that smell?
Wherever you camp, your dog will find all sorts of enticing smells, almost all of which will be of a revolting nature and definitely not compatible with a small space like a tent. Packing the dog shampoo, brushes and several towels will undoubtedly pay off. There are also tents available which have 'dog doors' or even 'doggy tents' which are the perfect size for keeping your favourite warm and dry without the mud straying into your own sleeping space.
In the event of an emergency, you could always use that other camping essential- ketchup. Many swear it is the best way to remove horrid smells from a dog’s coat (apply to source of smell, allow to dry then brush off), we have not tried this ourselves, but let us know if it does work!
A restful night's sleep depends on your dogs' manners
You won’t sleep well if you’re worried about your dog staying within the tent at night, so be sure you can trust your dog to behave. If you use a crate, then it may be worth taking that along for peace of mind. Lots of people swap leads for chew proof chains or cables when tethering their dog outside. A sewn in groundsheet is great, but you’ll probably want extra security if you have even the slightest fear that your dog may want to escape.
Things to do with your dog
Finally, it is worth researching your destination area in advance for dog friendly places to eat and drink, beaches to roam and attractions to visit. When camping (particularly in summer) there is rarely opportunity to leave your dog somewhere safe or secure, since both cars and tents can get very hot.
It’s definitely worth checking that you won’t be confined to your campsite and that there’s plenty you can enjoy together. Hiking is great for both of you, but you'll want somewhere warm to relax at the end, so a dog-friendly local pub would be ideal. Doggie Pubs is a reliable guide to dog-friendly pubs, however you do have to search by town or postcode, so narrow down where you want go before you start searching. Or Dugsnpubs gives lots of choices for shopping, walking, pubs and attractions to enjoy with your canine friend.
Essential kit for camping with a dog
These things will make your trip so much smoother, so you can enjoy every moment.
- A windbreaker - it gives you some privacy, and can help stop your dog from being over-excited by people and other dogs going past your pitch.
- Dog shampoo - you know you'll need it!
- Brushes - a groomed dog is a happy dog, not matter how long (or short) it lasts.
- Extra towels - nobody ever said 'It smells of wet dog in here - I love it!'
- A dog crate - if there is any chance that your dog could be spooked in the night, or simply want an adventure, you would be wise to keep it under control, for your sake as well as your neighbours'.
- At least one chew-proof lead.
- A list of attractions, pubs and cafes that you and the dog can both enjoy, and back-ups in case of bad weather.