There is little doubt, camping is one of my favorite things to do in life. It replenishes the soul and rejuvenates me, making me mentally ready for the rapid pace world once again. Out of the many pet family members I have had throughout the years, my dog Danny, a Norwegian Elkhound mix, was the one who relished camping the most. He couldn’t wait to go once he saw the sleeping bag hit the floor after I had rescued it from the storage closet. Danny knew it was going to be 3 days of no one but just the two of us living in the biggest back yard he ever saw. Danny and I were quite the team and nearly always inseparable. As a result, I wouldn’t have ever considered going camping without him. Of course, my main concern was always making sure Danny was safe and well taken care of while we were on our trip. Over the years I developed a list of items that became my camping staples that I always made certain were taken care of, or packed, as part of our trip preparation. I found out that the best way to put my mind at ease was to plan for the “almost anything could happen contingency”, and then rest in knowing that no matter what, I would be able to take care of my devoted companion. Preparation is always necessary for such a trip. Our pets depend on us to protect and keep them safe, and this list is designed to provide the most pressing of the needed items.
1. Make certain all of your pet’s vaccinations are current, especially the rabies.
2. Of course, it goes without saying that your pet must be completely healthy before you even think of taking him on a camping trip. If he is showing any signs of aliment or injury take him to your vet and have him fully treated and well before he makes the journey.
3. Administer flea and tick protection at least 3 days before the trip. As often as I have been camping, I have not yet found a way to experience a camping trip that is bug free.
4. Confirm your pet’s collar has accurate identification tags with includes your contact information such as a 10 digit phone number, home address or e-mail address. Make sure your pet wears his tagged collar at all times while on your trip.
5. You will need a pet crate, both for traveling in your vehicle, as well as when you are sleeping. With all the different sounds and smells your pet will be experiencing while in the great outdoors, it would be difficult to sleep soundly knowing you pet might try to chase after one of the night critters. A dog crate allows both you and your pet to get a good night’s sleep. Of course, you want the dog crate to be placed inside of the tent, camper or cabin with you. Being able to see that you are close will remove any anxiety your pet may experience in this new and unfamiliar place. Additionally, you do not want your pet isolated or alone, making it possible prey for a coyote or other predator. Make sure you bring along familiar bedding to place inside of the crate to ensure your pet has the smells of home as he nestles down for the night. There are a wide variety of dog crates, but for the purposes of travel and camping I would recommend either a plastic dog crate or a soft-sided dog crate. The plastic dog crate is the best solution if you are looking for durability and maximum safety. The soft-sided dog crate is usually collapsible and assembles much like a tent, offering easy portability. You’ll just need to decide which best fits your needs.
6. Make sure you pack your pet’s leash. The National Park Service requires all pets to be placed on a leash or inside of a crate at all times. Most private camp grounds also require pets to be restrained in the same manner.
Although this may sound like a lot to consider, it will help to ensure that your camping trip is a fantastic bonding time between the two of you. My favorite times have often been while we have sat in front of the camp fire. There is nothing more serene than watching the mesmerizing flames of a campfire and taking in the smells of the outdoors with my best four-foot companion resting next to me.