With more and more campgrounds accepting pets and offering on-site pet amenities, more pets than ever are being included on camping trips.
Camping with pets can be a very enjoyable experience for both owners and their animals with a little preparation and planning.
While camping can be a very affordable vacation option, being able to bring pets eliminates the need for a boarding facility. Owners and pets can enjoy their vacation together, an experience that’s usually not available on other types of vacations, according to a New Hampshire Campground Owners Association news release.
Sylvia Leggett, owner of Roberts Knoll Campground in Alton, New Hampshire, and member of the New Hampshire Campground Owners’ Association Board of Directors, has been camping with her three golden retrievers for many years. Leggett has noticed an increase in the number of campgrounds that allow pets, with many adding pet-friendly services.
“That’s why many people camp, so they can be outdoors and keep their pets with them, Leggett noted.”
Leo Spencer, owner of Chocorua Camping Village in Tamworth, New Hampshire, agrees, noting he has seen the number of owners camping with their pets increase within the last decade. Chocorua Camping Village was one of the first New Hampshire locations to offer a dog park and has since added additional amenities, which Spencer said has garnered very positive responses from campers and keeps them coming back year after year.
While being able to bring pets along can eliminate the need for a dog sitter or kennel, it does require some advanced planning on the owners’ part to make sure they are prepared for all situations. Only friendly, non-aggressive dogs should be brought to campgrounds.
When camping with a pet for the first time, Leggett recommends planning a shorter trip so the animal can get used to being away from home. That way, the trip can be ended early if needed.
When making a reservation, it’s a good idea to mention pets are part of your group. Some campgrounds can offer a campsite further away from busy areas, which may be more comfortable for some pets. Other campgrounds have a restriction on the number of pets allowed per campsite, which is helpful information for pet owners looking to bring more than one animal along.
Many campgrounds require proof of vaccines against rabies and Bordetella, a type of bacteria, though calling the campground ahead of time to confirm is suggested. Leggett recommends copying vet records with proof of all current vaccines and making sure licenses and contact information are included on pets’ collars. While all of her dogs are micro chipped, Leggett also has her phone number embroidered into her dogs’ collars in the event that they ever became separated.
When it comes to packing for pets, it’s also important to remember food and water dishes, an extra collar and leash, medicines or supplements, brushes, tie outs, shampoo, and something familiar from home, like a toy or blanket. If a dog is comfortable sleeping in a crate at home, that should be brought along too.
After settling into a camp or RV site with pets, it is important to be a responsible camper and pet owner. This includes cleaning up after pets, keeping them leashed, and making sure they stay out of prohibited areas.
Chocorua Camping Village has had a dog park for about 10 years now, but an AKC agility course was added about four years ago. The course contains a series of obstacles that anyone can use. In addition, there is a dog pond where dogs can swim and play fetch off leash, a dog wash station and access to five miles of walking trails. Pet themed events are held at the campground during the summer to include a pet parade.
When in doubt, do not leave pets unsupervised in an unfamiliar environment, as pets may act differently than they do at home.
As other places add pet-friendly amenities, it is getting more convenient for pet owners to bring their pets along. Many campgrounds can offer suggestions on places to visit with pets, from nearby hiking or walking trails to stores.
Like Leggett suggests, if you plan ahead and are prepared, camping can be a rewarding, memorable experience for both owners and pets.
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—Franklin D. Roosevelt