We love taking our dogs, Rocky and Kona, with us when we travel. One of the reasons we bought a converted skoolie was that we love taking road trips with dogs! While we’ve always taken them on our road trips, we can’t exactly take them tent camping. Lucky for us, most state park campgrounds – and all the Illinois state parks – allow dogs. If you’re thinking about taking your dog camping, here are some tips we’ve learned along the way.
Tips for Taking Your Dog Camping
If your campground allows pets, check with them for rules before you arrive. Depending on where you are, some of these tips might even be requirements.
1. Have a copy of your dog’s vaccines
Some campgrounds require you to send in your pet’s vaccines record. Even if they don’t, it is still a good idea to have them on hand. While you hope it never happens, if your dog was to bite someone or get in a fight with another animal, you’d need to have those handy.
2. Pack a pet first aid kit
Anytime you travel with your pet, you want to make sure you have the essentials on hand in a pet first aid kit. This can include things like tweezers for removing ticks and extra medication your pet might be taking. For Rocky, we always make sure we have his ear wash in case it’s raining because he is prone to ear infections. And we bring a nose balm now that he is getting older and his nose chaps easily. Our pet kit also includes Benadryl for allergies, sterile eye ointment, shampoo, deodorizing wipes for when they get stinky, and a can of pumpkin in case they get upset stomachs.
3. Know where the closest vet is
Owning Rocky has taught me that pets will need a vet on a weekend or 15 minutes after the vet has closed. I don’t know how it happens without fail every time I’ve just come to accept it. While you hope nothing happens when you’re camping with your dog, accidents do happen and it is better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you know where the closest vet is to your campground so that if anything happens, you know exactly who to call and where to take your pet.
4. Make sure their microchip and ID tag has updated information
If you travel regularly with your pet, you don’t have to do this before every trip. But if this is your first time taking your dog camping you want to make sure that their ID tag and microchip information is updated. If your dog runs away, you’ll want to make sure that whoever finds them can get in contact with you as soon as possible. Most dogs when they are found are taken to a vet so they can be scanned for a microchip. If the information isn’t accurate, your pet could end up with animal control while they track you down.
5. Have a recent photo handy
This is another tip that is more on the precautionary side but as I said before, it is better to be safe than sorry. Anytime you travel make sure you have a clear, recent photo of your dog in case your dog gets away.
6. Pack plenty of poop bags
As a pet owner, you must pick up your dog’s waste. If you are at a campground, picking up your dog’s poo so that a fellow camper doesn’t unexpectedly step in it is the courteous and cleanly thing to do. If you are in a state or national park, it is even more important to pick up after your dog! State and national parks are protected ecosystems. Not picking up after your pet can really impact the wildlife.
7. Know the local wildlife
Speaking of wildlife, make sure you know what kind of animals the area is known for so you can keep your pet safe. I generally make sure to look up any poisonous snacks and larger animals like wild boars or coyotes that we might come across. Knowing the local wildlife, even at a high level, can prepare you in case you encounter any along a trail or while walking your dog.
8. Bring their favorite bed or toy
Packing some of your dog’s favorites can help make them feel more comfortable while away from home. If your dog is newer to camping and traveling, having those familiar items can also make the transition a little easier.
9. Keep them on a leash
Your dog should always be on a leash while you are camping! Keeping your dog and others safe starts with making sure your pet can run off. In a new unfamiliar place like a campground, there are a number of things that could scare your dog and cause them to run off. Even if your dog is great off-leash at home, a loud noise or wild animal could easily get your dog to bolt across the campground. Before you leave make sure you check local laws and your campgrounds rules about how long your leash needs to be too!
10. Find the dog-friendly trails
If your dog likes the outdoors and doesn’t just want to hang out in the AC comfort of your RV check with the campground or park staff for dog-friendly activities or trails. You’d be surprised at how many dog beaches and dog-friendly trails there are. And sites like Bring Fido can help you find pet-friendly activities, services, and establishments in the area.
Did we miss any tips? What are your hacks for camping with your dog? Tell us in the comments!