With many of us considering ‘staycations’ this year, you may be wondering how to include your dog in your camping trip. Here's some tips from Blue Cross to ensure you have an enjoyable break away with your pet.
Getting used to the tent
If your dog has never been camping before, it’s best to try to get them used to it before you go. If you can, pop the tent up in your garden while your dog watches you. You can reward them with praise and treats for calm behaviour around the tent.
As your dog will be sleeping in the tent with you, you’ll need to get them used to being inside it. This may seem strange, but dogs are often not used to such a confined space and the lack of windows may make them worry.
Try to encourage your dog inside the tent with lots of praise and treats and calmly sit next to them inside. Leaving the tent up all day and going in and out with them in short bursts will be the best way to encourage them inside with you. You can even give them their favourite chew when they are lying in the tent with you.
Remember to give your dog some downtime. When we’re camping, we spend a lot more time outdoors and normal routines go out the window. This can cause interruption to our dogs sleeping habits so be sure to give them time to sleep during the day, as well as when they’re with you at night. Much like people, a lack of sleep can lead your dog to feel tired and irritable and could cause them to act differently than they usually do.
Being huddled near a fire with friends and family can be incredibly cosy, but they can pose a danger to our dogs if they get too close. Be sure to keep them on lead around the fire pit and always keep a close eye on them.
Make sure the fire is controlled and put out correctly before you head to your tent for the night. And don’t let your dog walk near the fire area until it has completely cooled – dog paws are very sensitive, and the ground can stay hot for hours after a fire has been put out.
A lot of campsites in the UK are based on or near farmland. Be extra careful around livestock with your dog – they need to be placed on lead. It’s a criminal offence to allow your dog to chase or attack livestock and farmers can shoot dogs they believe are worrying livestock on their land.
Camping in the heat
Camping is far more tempting when it’s hot. While we may relish the heat, our dogs often really struggle.
Try to find a camping spot in a shaded area and never leave your dog in a hot tent on their own. A tent can act like a greenhouse and heat up really quickly.
Know the signs of heatstroke in dogs and keep them in the shade during the hottest parts of the day. Think about ways you can keep them cool and, if there’s a river, lake or a dog-friendly beach nearby, treat your dog to a nice dip to cool them off.
What do I need to take camping for my dog?
- Bed and blankets: You’ll need somewhere for your dog to sleep and retire to, so be sure to take their bed and some blankets with you for extra warmth in the nights.
- Treats and chews: Giving your dog a nice chew or treat ball can keep them entertained while you’re chatting by the bonfire or playing some outdoor games.
- Food: Don’t forget their food, be sure to store this in a cool, dry place.
- Bowls for food and water: Spending more time outside will inevitably mean that your dog will be exercising more than usual. So be sure to always have water available and give them a nice, deep water bowl as well as taking their usual food bowl.
- A long line: This is helpful for dogs who have a chase drive. Most people go camping to the countryside, so having your dog on a long line will give you reassurance that they can run around if they want to but won’t be able to chase after any wildlife that may be on the grounds.
- Harness: If your dog is not used to the sights, sounds and smells of the countryside, they can sometimes pull a little more on the lead as their senses become overwhelmed with lots of exciting information. Having a harness will make sure that any pressure from pulling isn’t placed on their neck and will also help if you want to have them permanently on lead.
- Tie-out stake: Having your dog on lead at all times can be tiring for you. A tie-out stake can become your best friend in these situations. This allows you to place your dog’s lead onto a pole that is twisted into the ground, meaning you can get on with barbeques and other activities while your dog is safely tethered.
- Wind break: Providing a wind break or some form of screen gives your dog some privacy, especially if they’re on a tether. If your dog is worried or frustrated by other dogs passing, a wind break can help settle them and stop the barking.
- Towel: Muddy paws are no fun when traipsed through a tent. Keep a towel handy by the tent porch so you can avoid a Beethoven style shake off in your sleeping area.
For more information, visit www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/camping-with-dogs