So many dog owners consider their canine companies to be a part of the family. That means including them in everyday activities as well as special events and trips. The best part? Your dog loves being a part of things just as much!
It’s not uncommon to wonder about certain things you can and can’t do with your four-legged friend. For example, if you’re an avid hiker and/or camper, you might be curious about bringing your dog along.
The good news is that most dogs love to exercise and be outdoors. Some breeds need more activity than others, and understanding your dog’s temperament is important. Some dogs are even easier to work with when it comes to camping and hiking. But, for the most part, there’s no real reason to believe your pooch wouldn’t love to go camping with you.
But, it’s probably not a good idea to pack up the car and head off on a week-long camping trip with your dog without any preparation. With a little bit of time, patience, and working with your furry companion, you can properly prepare them for hikes and camping trips you’ll both love.
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Understanding What Your Dog Loves
Just like people, no two dogs are exactly alike. But, there are breed characteristics that can help you to determine what your dog needs, and what they’re likely to enjoy. For example, all dogs need exercise (again, just like people). But, they don’t all need the same amount of exercise. Let’s be honest, hiking with a small dog is going to be quite a bit different than going on a jaunt with a German Shepherd.
Start by understanding what your dog can handle. Most canines need anywhere from 30-minutes to two hours of exercise every day. But, some breeds are more active and require more, including:
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Siberian Husky
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- Border Collie
Don’t count out small dogs, though! Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Jack Russel Terriers, and even Toy Poodles are some examples of smaller breeds that love to be active. You just might need to make adjustments, like going on trails with clearer paths.
The most important thing you can do while hiking or camping with your dog is to make sure they’re safe. The camping experience will only be fun for your dog if you let them be themselves, and do a little bit of exploring and sniffing. But, it’s also crucial to make sure you’re keeping an eye on them. Additionally, you should have all of their essentials packed with you at all times – especially when you’re out hiking. Food, water, and a first aid kit should be on hand to cover your dog’s basic needs, especially if anything were to happen.
Be sure to do your research about your dog’s breed. Then, consider factors like their age, their normal activity levels, and whether they like being outside. You know your dog better than anyone, so keep that in mind as you consider taking them on an outdoor adventure.
Start Small and Go Slow
Think about the first time you went camping. Chances are, you probably didn’t go alone. Most people go camping with someone who knows what they’re doing, and your first trip was probably a short one. You also probably didn’t go on a 20-mile hike the first time you put on a pair of boots.
Dogs really aren’t much different. You shouldn’t expect them to be comfortable with every aspect of camping or hiking right away when they’ve never done it before. This is where the real preparation starts.
A good rule of thumb is to take your dog outside as often as possible and gauge their actions and attitude. Do they seem to enjoy themselves? How long do they want to be outside before they seem more interested in going in again? What are some of their favorite outdoor activities? Be sure to keep them as comfortable and cool as possible when you have them out by ensuring they have:
- Plenty of shade
- Freshwater to drink
- Frozen treats to enjoy
You can even set up a kiddie pool in your backyard if that’s where you’re getting your dog used to being outside more often. Again, it goes back to your pet’s safety – and that starts at home.
Once you feel like your dog is ready for a camping trip, it’s a good idea to schedule a shorter one. A weekend away might be more comfortable for them than a whole week. When you’re out, go on shorter hikes at first to see how your pooch does, before hitting longer trails.
When you’re both comfortable and able to enjoy yourself, you can also take advantage of both the physical and mental health benefits that come from spending time outside and being physically active. Exercising regularly is great for people of all ages, but older individuals need to keep their muscles, bones, and mental health strong. Spending time with your dog in the process is a bonus.
Be Prepared for Anything
You’ve already tackled two of the major hurdles that will make going camping and hiking with your dog easier. Preparing yourself and your best furry friend as much as possible is great, and you should take the time to do it.
But, it’s also important to remind yourself that anything can happen.
The more you plan for your camping or hiking trip, the more prepared you’ll truly be if something unexpected occurs. Of course, you want everything to go smoothly, but some things won’t always be in your control. So, try to limit the risk of anything going wrong by making a checklist that will ensure a safe and comfortable experience for you and your dog. Your list should include things like:
When you’re at the campsite, you can continue your preparedness efforts by never leaving your dog unattended — even for a minute. Doing so could compromise their safety. Even if they’re extremely well-behaved, you can’t predict what other people or animals might do. In addition to paying constant attention to them, make sure they have everything they need for a positive experience. That includes food, plenty of water, toys, treats, and even something comforting from home, like a blanket or one of your t-shirts they can sleep with.
You might not always be able to predict what will happen when your dog goes camping with you, or when you take them on the trail. But, overplanning isn’t a bad thing when you’re bringing them along. Doing so will help you feel more comfortable, even in unexpected situations. Camping and hiking with your four-legged friend should be an enjoyable experience for both of you, as well as a way to strengthen your bond. Keep these preparedness tips in mind, make sure to pay attention to what your dog really needs and wants, and you can quickly have a furry camping buddy by your side for future adventures.
Contributor: Luke Smith
Words about contributor of this Article: “Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but lifestyle and outdoor topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.”