It’s Fall in North Texas and for our family, that means…CAMPING SEASON! The 100+ degrees days are behind us. WOO-HOO!!!

Camping is a great way to de-stress for both humans and pups and enjoy the great outdoors. Carmi, Maggie, Sasha, and Sophie have all been fantastic camping buddies, but our preparation has made camping with them a success, instead of something that causes stress and anxiety for us, and them! For almost 40 years, we’ve camped all over the US and have always taken our pups with us.

Here are 5 tips for camping with dogs:

1.    Safety
●    When being transported in a vehicle, dogs need to either be in a crate or in a harness attached to a dog seat belt. Dog seat belts can be purchased on Amazon for less than $10. A dog should NEVER ride inside an RV or in the back of a pickup truck.
●    Your dog needs to ALWAYS be leashed. Predators could be around your campsite. Leashing your pup gives you more control in avoiding dangers that could be lurking—snakes, scorpions, other dogs, or even…pepperoni pizza. We were camping at Eisenhower State Park and exploring the trails. We let Maggie off leash (we know better now) and she wandered off the trail. She returned to us with a piece of pepperoni pizza in her mouth! It was funny at the time, but it could have something dangerous she put in her mouth.
●    Be sure flea/tick treatments and shots are up to date.
●    Is your dog a swimmer? If so, a life jacket is a must. NEVER let your pup drink from a lake or stream. Avoid bodies of water that have blue-green algae. Dogs can develop poisoning when they drink from, or even simply swim in contaminated water sources. If blue-green algae is ingested, it can cause severe neurologic or liver damage.
●    Locate the nearest emergency vet clinic. 
●    Keep your dog in sight at all times.
●    NEVER leave your dog outside at night to sleep.

2.    Supplies (it’s like packing for a baby!)
●    Non-spillable water bowl
●    Food and treats 
●    Medications
●    Shampoo. We were camping at Cap Rock Canyons State Park. Bison roam freely and that means HUGE piles of poop are throughout the park, even at campsites. I was busy watching for prairie dogs and not paying attention to Sophie, our 10 lb miniature poodle. Sophie was making the strangest noises only for me to discover she was rolling around in a pile of Bison poop. YUCK!!! Her white fur was greenish/brown and she smelled something awful. The only shampoo we had with us was a cheap brand not suitable for a dog’s coat.
●    Toys
●    Tether or dog pen
●    Pet first aid kit (familiarize yourself with pet first aid)
●    For cooler weather, take dog PJs (avoid dog sweaters. Dogs scratch and can catch a nail in the sweater) 
●    For warm weather, take a cooling pad
●    Dog bed for campfire watching
●    Collapsible water bowl for hiking
●    Poop bags
●    Your dog’s bed or crate

3.    Where will you camp?
Typically, State Parks are pet friendly. Many private parks are not. Some National Parks do not allow dogs on the hiking trails. Some beaches are dog friendly while others are not. Do some research before you leave home so that you are not disappointed. 

4.    Leaving your pup in your RV for a SHORT period of time?
●    Turn on your A/C fan so that the noise is constant.
●    Leave the TV on.
●    Close the blinds so that your dog is not barking at people or other dogs.
●    Consider using a pet camera so that you can watch your dog.
●    Use a “pet inside” sign for your camper door. In case of an emergency, other campers might be able to rescue your dog. We purchased ours from Camping World.

5.    Practice before you go.
●    Set up your tent in your backyard or take your RV to the closest campsite. If your pup does not enjoy this camping, then you both will be miserable when you leave home. If this is the case, consider leaving your pup at home under the care of a professional pet sitter.

We have precious memories of camping with our pups. Carmi was a Cockapoo. Maggie, a Schnauzer. Sasha is a Pooshon, and totally blind. She is 4 years old and holds our family dog record for camping in most states...19 states. Sophie is our newest rescue and a tripod. Sasha and Sophie love a good campfire, camping naps, and hiking.