Most dogs love the outdoors even more than we do. Bringing along your dog on your next camping or hiking trip can be an enjoyable experience for the whole family.
But there's a lot to think about when traveling with a furry friend. Be prepared and well-packed with these 40 tips for hiking or camping with dogs.
Health & First Aid
Your dog's health should be a number one concern while at the campsite or anywhere.
1. Cover Up
Dogs need sun protection, too. Look for special dog-formulated sunscreen for sun burn prevention while hiking.
2. Anxiety Aids
Thunderstorms, fireworks, and other loud or unfamiliar noises can cause anxiety for many dogs. That includes sounds at the campground or while traveling. There are many herbal pet anxiety treatments available, or try a Thundershirt for soothing pressure relief.
3. First Aid First
Make sure your dog is safe when you hike or camp together by stocking a pet first aid kit. Include things such as bandages, wound treatment and styptic powder. Go herbal and pack along Tea Tree Oil. It’s good for many first aid uses with antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties.
4. Out of date? Vaccinate!
Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date before you leave. Give yourself two weeks for the vaccines to take effect. Your dog could be in contact with many other animals including pets and wildlife.
5. Don't Push them Too Hard
It's important that you know your dog's limits, and don’t overdo it on hiking and other physical activity. If your dog is panting excessively, laying down on the path, or having trouble keeping up, it's time for a break (and a good drink of water).
6. Stay Shady
Choose a campsite with shade or bring along a sun shade to protect your dog from the sun. You don’t want your dog to get too hot. Pets can suffer from heatstroke, just like us. There are products out there for keeping your dog cool too, but these would be more appropriate for a camp site than on a long hike.
7. Check Out
Allow your dog at least a few hours to get used to their new surroundings. Take them for a walk around the campground and let them smell and check out things. Be patient to avoid anxiety.
Your dog can get worms anywhere, but out in the wild, he'll likely get more exposure. Use a natural de-wormer and preventative or even Diatomaceous Earth before, during, and after your trip. It also protects against fleas, ticks, mites, and other parasites.
9. Check for Ticks
Give your dog a good once-over every day for ticks and other harmful pests, even if you are using a flea and tick deterrent. Remove any ticks safely and easily with this tick removal method from the CDC.
10. Keep Hydrated
Always make sure your dog has plenty of water so he doesn't get dehydrated.. Bring extra water for your dog if you are unsure if there is a clean water source at the campground. Here are some portable bowls to help keep your dog hydrated.
There are so many things to remember to bring. Check out our Dog Camping Checklist for a reminder.
11. Pack Snacks
Pack some toys and yummy chews for your dog. They may be a necessary distraction from things you don’t want your dog getting into. Here's a great list of summer dog toys that you could bring along.
12. Backpacking Pooch
Going on a hike? Get your dog a backpack and let them carry treats, food, and small supplies.
13. Reflect on This
Camping with your dog? Make sure he’s wearing a reflective dog collar or visibility jacket for easy spotting at night. There are also lights you can attach to your dog's collar so you'll always be able to find your dog.
14. Be Generous with Food
Always pack more than enough food for your dog. You never know what could happen while camping. And measure – don’t just estimate. Also, on the note of food, freeze-dried dog food is a great option for camping and hiking because they are light and easy to pack, and they are nutrient dense.
15. Water Often
Never leave your dog outside on a hot day for longer than 30 minutes without water. Replace regularly. When on a hike, always bring extra water for your dog. Pack a handy travel bowl for easy drinking for your dog on the go.
16. Store Properly
Keep food sealed to keep it bug-free and dry.
17. Double Stocked
Camping with your dog? Bring along an extra harness and leash just in case.
18. Go Hands-Off
Sometimes when you are out in the wilderness, it is nice to have a hands-free leash, whether it be for carrying more supplies, using hiking poles, or for your dog to help you up the hill (just kidding)!
19. Pack Heavy
Don’t rely on what you can find at the campground. Always bring a dog tie out and an extra chain – just in case.
20. Indispensable Dispensers
Dog water dispensers and collapsible food dishes are indispensable when traveling.
21. Bring a Brush
Pack your dog's brush to remove burrs and other materials that get stuck.
22. Paws-itive Identification
Make sure your pet ID tag information is up to date for your dog. If you are staying somewhere for a number of days, get a disposable tag with your campsite location on it. Consider a microchip for more permanent identification.
23. Keep Leashed
Keep your dog on leash or cable at all times - even while hiking - to prevent and control run-ins with bears, mountain lions, and other hikers or wildlife.
24. Under Control
Using a quality no-pull harness in a place with as much distraction as the campsite will make sure you have control over your dog.
You and your dog aren't the only ones camping or using the trails. Be courteous, as you would desire from others.
25. Check Ahead
Be sure your campground is dog-friendly before you book. Hiking trails, too.
26. Follow the Rules
Your campground may allow pets, but they also likely have rules regarding pets. Make sure you know what is required of you and your dog, and follow these closely. Camping with pets is a privilege you won't want to jeopardize for you or other campers!
27. Control the Noise
No one likes to hear a dog barking constantly, especially on vacation. Keep your dog supervised at all times to ensure good behaviour.
28. Poo P's and Q's
Be considerate of other campers. Always use poop bags to pick up your dog’s messes.
On the Road
The journey is just as important as the destination.
29. Restrain Yourself and Your Pet
Always travel with your dog restrained in your car. Among other things, this prevents driver distraction.
30. Keep it Cool
Even a warm day is too hot for your dog to be left in the car. Window cracked? Still not enough to cool the car.
31. Vet Records
Keep a copy of your dog's vet records in the car, especially if you’ll be traveling out of province.
There are a lot more sights and sounds in the wild to discover, but that also means more trouble that your dog can get into. Keep your dog safe in the wild with these tips.
32. Prevention Protection
No time is more important for flea and tick prevention for your dog than the warm months, especially while you are camping. Is your pet protected?
33. Don't Feed the Wildlife
Always remove any food that your dog doesn’t eat soon after they have finished eating. Leftover food can attract unwanted animal visitors. All food should be stored in your vehicle or camper in a cooler.
34. Sound Sleeping
Leaving your dog outside could mean they are vulnerable to wild animals in the area. Sleep with your pet in your tent or look for a dog tent to keep them safe while camping. Your pet will be warm and dry in the tent, too.
35. Warn Animals
Making noise as you hike, whether it be talking or shouting, is the best way to avoid surprises with wildlife. Some like to put a bear bell on their dog while hiking to warn bears and other animals away and to help you keep track of your dog. Bear bells may be helpful at preventing bear attacks, but not likely to be enough. Make sure you follow other guidelines for preventing bear encounters, such as shouting or singing loudly periodically, staying alert, and avoiding areas near water or berries when in bear country.
36. Bug OFF
Find a pet-friendly insect repellent to help your dog keep those little pests away.
37. Keep Distance
Make sure your dog doesn’t get too close to the fire. Singed fur is no fun for anyone.
38. Limit Sampling
Try not to let your dog drink from standing bodies of water, or running rivers, streams, and lakes. All of these can harbour harmful bacteria. Offer your dog water frequently so she doesn't go looking for it.
39. No Self-Snacking
Watch what your dog eats in the wild. Berries, mushrooms, and other things that may look tasty could be toxic.
40. Prevent Paw Chafing
Check your dog’s paws frequently, especially after hiking on rough terrain. Bring along a paw moisturizer or conditioner to soothe sore foot pads or consider bringing along boots, such as Canine Equipment Ultimate Trail Boots.