If you’ve never taken your dog – or even your cat! – camping, imagine seeing your favorite pet savor the wonders of the outdoors with the enthusiasm and joy that animals apply to every situation in life. For many folks, the thought of having fun without the family pet doesn’t even compute. If you can’t bring part of your family somewhere, is it even worth going? Read on to learn how to create the most fun and functional camping trip the whole family – pets included- can enjoy.
All snuggled up with your best bud is a great way to wake up whether at home in bed or in your tent. But fur babies – with their claws and dirt – can be a tent’s worst nightmare. Here’s what to look for in a tent if you’re going to be bringing along a family pet.
Find a tent that is rated high for durability. Enthusiastic prancing, lazy bone-gnawing, and all the other cute things that dogs do (and that you don’t want them to stop doing!) can quickly lead to rips in your tent’s fabric or tracking in dirt that will wear away its structural integrity. So find the most durable fabric possible. Read reviews of the tent to get an idea of how it fared for other readers or check out dog or cat-camping websites for ideas.
Depending on how cozy you want to get with your pup or kitty and how much gear you need to bring for them (litter box, anyone?), you might want more space than you would usually factor in just for the number of humans attending the camping trip. Some folks love their pup to curl up next to them regardless of the dirt, pine needles, or who knows what else they picked up during their day’s excursions, but others prefer to have their pet sleep in their own comfy dog bed at the end of their sleeping bag, and that requires a lot more space.
Find a tent with a vestibule, or an interior antechamber, where your dog can hang out comfortably or get cleaned up first without needing to come directly into your clean “inner” tent area.
Functional Attire and Gear
While your pet will enjoy the camping experience if all you bring is yourself and a leash, there are a few pieces of gear that can increase the adventurousness, comfort, or safety of your pet while camping, depending on your unique situation.
If you’re camping during the summer or in a hot area, your pet might get so enthusiastic about his new surroundings that he overheats and gets ill. Cooling vests are an adorable way to keep your puppy’s temperature regulated and to keep him looking fly.
A few dog owners follow the motto, “Never leave the dogs behind,” with enthusiastic zeal. Ruffware produces a dog climbing harness which allows people to bring along their dogs on canyoneering or rock climbing adventures. Tie in your pup, hoist him a hundred feet in the air, and carry on with your expedition.
As cute as your tiny dog will look dressed as a little hot dog, you don’t want her to actually end up as food. Coyote jackets are a hot new trend which prevent predators from snacking on your dear one. Little vests covered in wild spikes and erect plastic strips keep away coyotes, birds of prey, or whatever other critter gets the wrong idea about your little dog.
Hydration packs for pets are cute little vests that comfortably hold two water bladders on your dog’s sides. Carry a collapsible dog bowl to pour the water into, and you’ve got a perfect system to keep your dog happy and sated.
For Your Pet
For your pet’s safety (and for the enjoyment of other campers who might not realize how wonderful your dog is like you do), if you’re staying at an established campground, you’ll want to keep your dog on a leash, either in your hand or tied to a tree. Feel free to make the line long so she can explore her fun new surroundings, but make sure that she can’t run away or be chased away by other animals. Even the most obedient dog could be distracted by a fascinating chipmunk or scared by a growling bear into disregarding your commands to “stay” or “come”. Don’t risk a long search in the woods when you can just keep them tied in the first place in case of emergencies.
Speaking of searches in the woods, avoid this as well by using a tracking chip. Either have one surgically inserted into your pet or use a name tag that you can follow by an app on your phone. There are many ways to track lost pets these days, so before a camping trip is the perfect time to institute one of these strategies.
If you have one of those “less outdoorsy” animals, consider bringing along a collapsible pet playpen where your nervous dog or unathletic cat can lounge outside in comfort and security.
For Other Animals
Another reason to keep your dog or cat controlled is so that they don’t commit the fineable (to you!) offense of killing or harassing wild animals. The Leave No Trace Guidelines specify that people should avoid interfering with or stressing wild animals, and as a pet owner, it is your responsibility that your animal also avoid any of these actions.
Now that you have the tent, the gear, and the knowledge to confidently go camping with your pets, prepare for an adorable adventure. Even if all you do is lounge at your campsite, the view will be enhanced by your pet’s sweet face. And if you hike or explore, seeing your dog’s sheer happiness will lift your heart. Camping with pets is easy and fun, so get out there and have a great time.