This post is hitting the blog a little later than I had planned because we had some unexpected website hosting problems all week. We are finally back online and ready to talk all about camping!
Last weekend, Luna went on her first camping trip with me and my boyfriend. Since we were all camping newbies, we only went for one night. Even though we were only outside for about 24 hours, we still learned a lot about what it takes to go camping.
But let’s face it. We really went glamping. It probably would have taken 134082340239 backpacks to fit all our stuff. I’m not known for packing light and either is Luna. I’m pretty sure Luna asked me “Oh hey, will my kitchen sink fit in that bag?” before we left.
So here is some advice from first time
Do some research on your campground. Find out the “amenities” and what activities are available. Are there bathrooms? How close will they be? What about running water? Also, make sure to read the rules and regulation. Everywhere is different, so be sure to check if pets are allowed and if there are any fees or restrictions.
Bring A LOT of water. We aren’t backpacking here, so you don’t have to worry about the weight. You’ll need water for everyone to drink including your dog, cooking, and possibly washing dishes or yourself.
Bring reusable dog bowls that are lightweight and don’t take up a lot of space. We like to use a few different options.
Kurgo has a Zippy Bowl that folds up and you can easily slip into your pocket. It is actually surprisingly deep too, so it holds a lot of water or food. The high walls of the bowl also make it a little more difficult to spill.
Sturdi Products make Water-Tight Boxes, which also work great. They are square and pretty stable. Luna has a tendancy to go crazy and wrap her leash around everything, which causes her to knock over her water bowls. Since this one is pretty flat and square, that doesn’t end up happening as much.
Another great option is the Collapsible Travel Cup from Dexas International. This bowl (or cup) pops up, so it is super lightweight and super easy to use. It doesn’t hold a lot of water, but it is great to put down for your dog if you can only bring along one water bottle.
All three of these bowls are different and we used each one during are camping trip.
Don’t forget your dog’s food. I would recommend bringing dehydrated food, as long as you have enough water. Dehydrated food is very lightweight and doesn’t product much waste. Plus, when you give the food to your dog, you can add extra water to make sure they stay hydrated. It is just as important for them to stay hydrated as it is for you when you are outside the entire day, but sometimes they might need a little extra encouragement to get enough water. Luna and I used The Honest Kitchen’s dehydrated dog food. We picked up some samples when we were at the BlogPaws Conference back in May. They worked out really great because we were able to just use one bag for each meal. If you are thinking about going camping or going on any vacation, you can get some free samples from The Honest Kitchen too! To get these samples, use my affiliate link or promo code AMBBGJS7123. You will just have to pay about $2.50 for shipping.
You need to eat too, so bring something fun and easy to cook. Again, we are not backpacking so bring on the pots and pans! In fact, it might be worth picking up some cookware specific for campfires as it could ruin your good stuff. We made spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and egg sandwiches breakfast. Both meals were pretty easy and turned out delicious.
Enjoy your tasty s’mores, but keep the chocolate out of reach from your dog.
Know the leash laws. Many campgrounds will require your dog to be on a leash at all times. Not all places restrict to 6 foot long leashes or shorter, but some beaches and campgrounds do. We went to a state park, where leashes were a requirement, but we were able to have Luna on a little bit of a longer leash. If you are able to use different leash lengths, bring a few different options, but please no retractable leashes.
Go hands free. Keep your dog close, but don’t feel like you have to hold them or their leash all day long. How do you plan on pitching your tent if your hands are full of dog anyway? We purchased a tie out steak that easily and sturdily screws into the ground. We also utilized a picnic table and large tree that Luna couldn’t budge. These three different tether points let us move Luna around to stay close by, but out of danger.
Keep your dog out of reach of danger. When you pick a place to tether your dog, they can’t get to anything harmful like the campfire or trash. Also, make sure wherever you choose to tether your dog is sturdy enough to hold them if they get spooked.
Be mindful of how close you are to other people. Your camping neighbors probably won’t be happy if your dog snatches their dinner when they aren’t looking. Fortunately, we don’t (yet) have first hand experience with this one.
Don’t leave your dog unattended. If you are at a campground, there are probably other people around whose commotion could disturb your dog, or vice versa. If you aren’t around people, then you may be a hardcore camper out in the middle of the wilderness with bears and such. Unattended dogs and bears is probably not a great idea either. This is especially true if your dog is not an experienced camper or is in a new place. If you leave them unattended even for 5 minutes, they may freak out and you don’t want that.
Bring something that your dog is familiar with, especially if this is one of their first times camping. Don’t let your dog convince you that you need to bring their entire toy box, but a few toys won’t hurt and may help keep them out of trouble at the camp site.
Pack something for your dog to sleep on. You can bring something specific to camping like a roll up pet bed or a sleeping bag like the one we have from Alcott. Their regular bed or a blanket also works. We brought along Luna’s mat, sleeping bag, and tent, but she ended up sharing our air mattress. I would caution this because dog nails could pop your air mattress and that would just totally ruin your glamping experience. Fortunately, she was pretty good about it and we had a couple protective layers or blankets just in case.
Make sure your dog is wearing their collar, especially at night. One of my biggest concerns was what would happen if Luna got spooked in the middle of the night while I was sleeping and tried to get out of the tent. I know that the thing material of a tent would definitely not stand up to my Beagle’s digging abilities, so I was a little afraid she might get loose. I helped put these worries to ease by making sure Luna wore her reflective collar with all her tags.
Bug spray for people is not safe for pets, so don’t put it on them. Keep up to date before you go camping with whatever flea and tick procedure you have. We are currently trying to go more natural and use Wondercide, so we always bring a bottle along. Always keep an eye out for ticks and other creepy crawlies. Check yourself and your dogs regularly. A good schedule is every time you shower, before bed, and after any activity in a heavily wooded area.
Enjoy the outdoors. Go hiking or go for a swim. If you do visit a beach, pond, or other form of water, keep a close eye on your dog especially if they are not strong swimmers or are inexperienced. Our campground was on a river and it had a little beach. Luna had never really gone swimming before, so we let her set the pace and didn’t go in to the water too far. She did swim a little bit (AND FETCHED A STICK!), but we kept a close eye on her. If this is something you and your dog enjoy doing, you may want to invest in a life jacket or other floating device for your dog. We are planning to go to the beach later this summer and are definitely thinking about getting one for Luna.
Bring a first aid kit for you and bring one along for your dog too. Pack any regular medication and bring bandages that are suitable for dogs. We also packed Pawz for long hikes or really hot days. Pawz will help protect the pads of their paws from damage or burns. Pawz may also help combat any allergies that your dog has. See what we put in our First Aid Kit for Dogs.
We are planning to go camping a few more times this summer, so we’ll keep you updated on how those go.
ADDITIONAL READINGS ON OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES WITH DOGS:
15 Must Have Outdoor Dog Products
Pet Friendly Hiking in Virginia
5 Pet Friendly Places in Virginia
Reflective Wear for Dogs
How to Create a First Aid Kit for Dogs
Have you ever been camping with your dog? How did things go?
Disclaimer: Affiliate links are used in this post and I may receive a commission if you click and/or purchase from the link to help support this blog. Do not worry, these links do not affect the price of products. Kurgo, Dexas International, Sturdi Products, Pawz, and The Honest Kitchen provided samples to try. I choose to write about these products and I received no additional benefits for mentioning the products in this post. The opinions and ideas in this post are my own and are uninfluenced by any other person or business.