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Camping with your Dog

Camping is a great way to spend some time with the family, but what’s quality family time without our furry friends? Camping with your dog can either be a lot of fun or a lot of work. There are many things to consider when bringing your dog on a camping trip and any camper knows that making sure you’re properly prepared is very important before setting off into the wilderness.

Training

Your dog doesn’t need to be Einstein but let’s be honest; if your dog doesn’t listen to your when you give a command it can make for a very stressful camping trip. Some useful commands are stop, come back, lay down and drop it. It is also important to remember that sound travels, especially near the water so if your dog is a barker it is important either train them not to bark or not to bring them. I’m sure that you can agree that the only thing worse than listening to a dog bark nonstop for 3 hours is listening to their owner yell at them for barking for 3 hours. If your dog is a wanderer it is important to keep them on a leash at all times and to bring them inside the tent with you at the end of the night when you turn in. If your dog invites themselves into your neighbor’s cooler for lunch you may end up with some very unhappy neighbors.

Breed and Temperament

If your dog is aggressive whether towards humans, other dogs or wild animals it has no place in the wilderness. Different breeds have different temperaments. If your dog has never seen a porcupine before no matter how well trained the command used for stop may not work. Different dog breeds have different dispositions. If a Jack Russell comes across a porcupine in the bush it will likely bark “bring it on!” in dog language and go for the animal’s throat. It’s what their bred to do and they do it very well. Other breeds such as retrievers or standard poodles have temperaments better suited to camping and hiking in the wilderness.
Physical Capabilities
A camping trip is not the time to start your overweight dog on a weight loss program. Like people, dogs need training too; they can’t be expected to go from couch to mountain climbing in one afternoon. When going on a back packing trip it is recommended that your dog is able to support itself. This means they should have their own back pack with about a week worth of kibble inside. It is important that your dog is used to the backpack before the hiking trip, it’s recommended to get them used to it over about 2 months, gradually adding weight to it.
Just like humans, if your dog is on the boat with you it is important that they have a PFD, especially if they are non swimmers. Dogs get tired too, they can drown if they don’t monitor their fatigue level, and most energetic dogs don’t realize their tired until they’re really tired.

Trail Etiquette

You may love your dog but not everyone out of the trails or at the camp site may love dogs. Good trail etiquette is to step off the trail and control your dog. If your dog likes to run back and forth on the trail, that’s fine as long as it’s a low-use area. When you do run into another person, assure them your dog is under control and not aggressive.
Always make sure you poop and scoop while camping. If you came across a camper taking a number 2 in the forest and then walking off you’d you mortally offended and likely grossed out. The same applies to your dog. It is unpleasant for other hikers or campers to accidentally find your dogs feces with their brand new hiking boots. If you’re on a long hike and would rather not carry a poop bag the rest of the way it is recommended to dig a small hole and burry your dogs poop.

Dog First Aid

Before you even begin to pack your things for a camping trip call your veterinarian to ensure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations, especially rabies. Rabies is transmitted by infected raccoons, bats and many other wild animals you could easily come across while camping. Ticks can also pose a threat to your dog. It is a good idea to do a thorough tick inspection every night before turning in. The big thing to remember when camping or hiking with your dog is that if they get hurt you’re going to have to find a way to get them back home. This may mean carrying your 90lb Labrador with a broken leg all the way back to the car. If you are traveling far away from home it is always best to know where the closest veterinarian is just in case of an emergency.

This blog post was written by McQueen Animal Hospital, a veterinary clinic in Brampton providing quality affordable veterinary care

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