Camping with your four-legged friend can be an immensely enjoyable experience—if your pet is suited to such adventures and you’ve done your homework.
The first thing to consider is whether the pet will be a good campmate. If your dog is easily excitable, aggressive, prone to barking, a wanderer, or high-maintenance in any way, it might be better for the dog—and you—to drop him or her off at the doggy spa on your way to the campground.
Don’t despair, however, if your pet exhibits some of these traits it may be the result of stress brought on by exposure to unfamiliar surroundings. If you want to make your pet a regular campmate, it may require practice in the form of a few backyard camping trips, nature hikes, or even a day-trip or two to the local campground.
Aggressiveness is a deal-breaker, though; if your dog shows aggression toward people or other animals, it has no place in a campground.
It’s also helpful if your dog is a good listener, meaning it responds immediately to your voice commands. You must demand instant response to a command. It might even save your pet’s life someday.
For example, a “stop” command instructs the dog to halt immediately, and not to move until released with another verbal command. The list where this command could save your dog from injury is too long to itemize, but you get the idea.
Other key commands include:
- Leave it—don’t mess with that, whether it’s a gum wrapper or a flaming marshmallow. If the dog already has the object in its mouth, it should drop it immediately.
- Come—obvious. Upon the command, your dog should come to you—no matter what.
- Drop—lie down and stay there until I say so.
- Release—the command that dissolves the “drop” command.
- Let’s go—we’re moving, so snap-to.
The goal of all this, of course, is to ensure that your dog is under your control at all times so as not to intrude on your neighbor’s solitude. And the successful use of voice commands is less stressful on you and your furry camping buddy.
Packing for your pet is important, too. Besides a supply of dog food and a supper dish, make sure you have the following:
- Clean water, or access to it. Ponds are often contaminated with stuff that could harm your dog.
- Sturdy collar and I.D. tags.
- 6-foot walking leash.
- Crate, portable kennel, or a 15-foot tie-rope.
- Pet waste bags
- Grooming brush, to remove burrs etc.
- Vaccination certificate and any other medical paperwork.
Carry a Pet First Aid Kit; don’t rely on ones made for humans. There are numerous pre-packaged first aid kits that you can buy online or at sporting stores.
Alternatively, ask your veterinarian to help you build a good kit. Your vet knows the specific needs of your pet and can help you find items to include in your kit specifically for your dog or cat, and the RV activities you are planning.
If your pet is on a prescription be sure to pack an adequate supply for the entire journey. Backup medicines for fleas, worms, and other common illnesses are also recommended.
Finally, keep a close eye on your camping companion, especially if the weather is warm. Make sure there’s plenty of shade available. And, again, make sure you have access to plenty of cool, fresh water. Your dog’s well-being depends on it.
More RV parks than ever are laying out the welcome mat for pets. Creating a safe, nurturing environment inside your home-on-wheels ensures that everyone stays happy no matter where the road leads.
If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.