Summer is on the way and its time to think about planning some fun outdoor activities with your doggies. If you love an adventure in the form of a camping/hiking trip, whether at home in the UK or abroad, it makes sense to be prepared. Taking your dog along with you calls for a bit more planning than when you’re flying solo. There’s no need to spend loads of money on fancy gadgets or equipment - simply writing a list of things you need to check before you go and what you need to bring will be a great start. Here’s some top tips that’ll make your trip smoother, less stressful and way more fun.
This is the exciting part! Deciding where to go on your camping/hiking trip will get you looking forward to your getaway with your dog. Think carefully about your dog’s capabilities - do they hate being in the car? Then travel to a location nearby. Do they struggle being around other dogs or noise? Go to a quieter place. Do they react badly to heat? Stay in the UK or another place with a cooler climate. The other consideration is whether to go wild camping or stay in an official campsite with amenities. Know your dog and what they’re comfort zone is.
If you’re going farther afield or staying in a campsite where there are likely to be other dogs it’s best to get a vet check before you leave. Make sure vaccinations and flea/worm treatments are up to date and ask the vet’s advice about how to deal with emergencies or tricky situations. If you’re travelling abroad for your camping trip there will be additional travel regulations to deal with.
Especially if you’re going hiking or wild camping, bring your furry friend’s food with you and be prepared with water purifying tablets in case you’re unsure about any of the river/lake water. Always make sure you have enough food for your pet and don’t rely on feeding them human food that might upset their stomach. Put the dog food in an airtight container so that it doesn’t spoil nor attract unwanted visitors in the night.
The beauty of camping or hiking in the wilderness is the magnificent nature. But, this can also pose a threat. Do your homework and check what wildlife might be around your hiking trail or campsite. It’s respectful to follow the countryside code and keep your dog on a lead where there’s livestock around. If you’re in the UK you’re unlikely to come across any large potentially dangerous animals but if you’re abroad, be sure to know what animals roam the area and how to protect yourself and your dog. Insects can harm your dog too - ask your vet about precautions against harmful bugs and always carry a tool for removing ticks.
If you’re going to spend a long time in your car or campervan, make sure you give your dog breaks and never leave them inside the vehicle. It could be tempting while you pitch your tent but try to remember to bring a long rope as a tether and a stake so that they can be outside while you're busy getting set up.
Know where to get help in an emergency - look up the local vet nearest your hiking trail or campsite and store their number. Take a dog first aid kit with you and know how to use it - it will normally include bandages, antiseptic, tweezers or tick removal tool, space blanket, and first aid booklet. It may also be a good idea to have your pet’s medical history with you or stored digitally.
Be prepared for the weather. It can be volatile in mountainous areas so protect your dog for all eventualities. Have spare towels and blankets and their jackets for when it rains or is cold, sun protection and booties for their paws for extreme heat (or cold). Keep them warm at night by layering extra blankets on the tarpaulin floor of the tent and take a travel bed.
As mentioned, you don’t have to go out and spend all your hard earned cash on equipment but there are a few items that will help your trip go smoother. A spare lead is always a good idea - leads can so easily go missing or dogs have been known to chew through them, leaving you stranded! Extra towels and blankets will never go amiss on a hike or camping trip and remember that tether and stake to secure them when your attention is on your camping chores. An LED collar, although not a must, can definitely be a plus for keeping eyes on your doggie at night. Collapsable bowls are also standard camping/hiking items, and so handy.
Bear in mind that if you’re in an official campsite, there will be rules for dogs. Find out what the rules are before you go and stick to them. This is why it’s important to do some research - if your dog needs an area to be off-lead for example, check that there’s something nearby. Is your dog a barker? They might have rules about noise levels.
Do a practice run before you take your dog camping or hiking. Take them on shorter half day hikes locally so that you know they’re up to the challenge. For camping particularly, it’s good for them to be familiar with the smell of the tent, get them used to being inside it and have a trial in your garden before you go so that they don’t get overwhelmed.
The most important thing to remember on the trip is to enjoy! Most dogs love being outdoors and love spending quality time with their owners, so it’s a win-win for everyone. By planning ahead, you can make sure everyone makes sweet memories together and that disasters are avoided.