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Having your dog along on a camping trip can add an extra dimension of enjoyment to the journey, as long as you have given the project some thought. The first thing to be done will be to take an honest assessment of whether your dog would enjoy camping, or whether the dog has any behavioral problems that will make the trip unpleasant. Very small dogs that are used to pampering may not enjoy a camping trip, and chronic barkers can spoil everyone’s fun. Dogs suffering from serious health conditions are better left with a friend or at a kennel. However, if you have decided that you and your dog will enjoy a camping trip together, you will still need to prepare so that the journey is safe for both of you. An easy way to look at it is that what is safe for you is safe for your dog.
Wherever you and your dog are, you will need food, water, and shelter. If your dog has become accustomed to using a backpack, he or she can carry at least part of the food they will need to the campsite. Dry food will, of course, be best as it is low in weight. And, make certain that you have enough food to last for the trip. You may carry some water in with you, but if you are going on an extended camping trip you will have to use ground water at the site. No ‘wild’ water should be considered to be safe to drink for you or your dog, and the best option is to bring along a camp water filter. These are lightweight units that are easy to carry along and will be able to provide purified water for you and your pet.
In all likelihood, you will be using a tent during your camping trip. Get your dog used to the tent before you actually go on the trip; set it up in the backyard and encourage your dog to go into it (the dog will be much more likely to go in if you are in there, too). Depending on the breed of the dog, the length of the dog’s hair, and what the temperature will be, you may have to provide warm bedding. You can also let a smaller dog right into the sleeping bag with you. Short haired breeds might benefit from a coat, especially at night.
Injuries are much more likely on a camping trip due to unfamiliar and uneven terrain. It is important to have a dog first aid kit in your backpack along with your own to manage injuries and illnesses. Because the possibility of broken legs will be greater, you might also want to include a roll of aluminum splints in your dog’s kit. Camping often involves canoeing, and if your dog does come in the canoe with you, regardless of the breed, the dog should wear a flotation device. Use one that provides support for the head so that the dog cannot drown under any circumstances.
Keep your dog from chasing or interacting with wild animals. Larger animals, such as bears and wolves and moose, can cause serious harm to your dog, and nearly all wild animals carry parasites. The possibility of contracting a disease from a wild animal exists as well. Dogs are curious about everything and the possibility of losing your dog while on a camping trip exists if the dog runs off to check out a new smell. Unless your dog is absolutely obedience trained, keep him or her on a leash; the chances of finding a lost dog in the wilderness can be very slight. So with all those factors in mind and with the necessary equipment packed – go have a great time. Both you and your canine companion are going to have the time of your life.