If you want to get close to nature, camping is as good as it gets. Sleeping near the ground, under the heavens, with nothing but a layer of canvas between you and the elements, puts you in touch with your inner cave dweller. There’s nowhere better to do it than the fabulous surroundings of Canada, and there is no one better to share it than humanity’s first and best friend.
Preparing the Ground
Dogs, like children, can make life misery in the campsite unless you have anticipated and provided for their needs, so it is no good slinging dog and tent into the back of the car and setting off. Have a practical checklist.
It sounds obvious, but it’s easily forgotten—does the campsite you have chosen welcome dogs? If so, are there any special rules to observe? Irritated stares from fellow campers followed by a visit from the owner can put a downer on the day.
Have you got the right selection of toys? It’s no good bringing nothing but throwing toys if the dog is to be kept on a leash. Have you got enough food to last the whole trip? You don’t want to give your dogs the runs by feeding them food they’re not used to. Have you got enough bags to clear up?
Have you got space in the car? Is the car even suitable if this turns into a thing? If you are thinking of getting a new car, consider something suitable for canine camping. An SUV like the Jeep Cherokee, with its off-road capabilities and its massive storage, is ideal.
It’s a good idea to have a canine first aid kit. You may not have a veterinary surgery close by, and it is easy to panic in an unfamiliar place.
How well trained is your dog? All you need is a dog which will reliably come when called and stay put as long as you choose. It will protect the dog from many dangers. If you plan to walk in the wild, you may meet potentially dangerous creatures that the dog will not know how to respond to—it’s not just bears and cougars; many dogs get killed chasing moose and elk. If you cannot trust your dog to stay by your side use a leash.
If this is your first trip with a new puppy, take things slowly. It’s tempting to walk too far in beautiful surroundings, but your young dog needs to build up stamina.
Plan your trips around water. Dogs drink a lot, and you don’t want to have to carry their water supply for a whole day—but have an emergency bottle with you at all times as they can dehydrate quickly.
On the campsite ensure that your dogs are tethered securely whenever you are not directly supervising them, using a tether that cannot be chewed through.
If you are a keen camper, it’s hard to think of any way to make it more fun than by sharing the experience with your pet. Just take a few simple precautions, and you will both live to enjoy many more bonding trips together.
Amelia Lees is a single Mom who has twin tweenage daughters (don't say that out loud too fast!). She enjoys article writing about family life and parenting, using her skills from working at a daycare center, to give other parents support and encouragement.