Now that you have your habits set and a list of skills to work on with your dog I'm sure you are all read to head on out and hit the campsites! Escaping to the woods with your dog is such a great experience. As you start packing for your trip, there are a few things you will need to add in for your dog as well. Unfortunately it's not just a simple as grabbing your dog and heading out. So what should you be packing for the best camping experience with your dog?
It seems a little obvious right? But seriously, bring your dogs collar. Make sure that they have an ID tag that is up to date and easy to read. A great option if you hike and camp with your dog a lot is a nameplate instead of a dangle-y tag. These wont get snagged on bushes and pop off on the trail. We use biothane collars for camping and hiking. These fantastic collars are not only super cute, but waterproof and easy to clean. If they get muddy all we need to do is wipe them off and they're good as new, plus no stink!
Harness & Leash
When hiking, a harness is your best option to make sure your dog is safe and comfortable. You should be sure that your dog will not be able to slip out of the harness if they get spooked, and that it fits comfortably. When camping and hiking we always use a waist leash. The hands free aspect is fantastic when hiking, and the bungee of the leash is very helpful at reducing impact of pulling as we navigate tricky spots. The double clip on the leash is also extremely handy for stationing the dogs at the campsite.
Most campsites and public rails will have leash laws, which means that your dog needs to stay on leash. Bringing a long line along is a great option for when you want to let your dog stretch their legs without breaking the rules. I do not recommend using them on busy trails, or trails with a lot of elevation, but they can be great on quiet trails and are very handy for campsite potty breaks. Especially if you have a dog who isn't super thrilled about pottying on leash.
Keeping your dog secure at your campsite is very important, and always holding onto a leash can get extremely frustration while you are trying to enjoy the campfire. Trees and trash hooks aren't always in the best spots to hook up our dogs wither, so having a stake in your kit makes things nice and easy to always have something convenient to station your dog to. I highly recommend spending the $5 to get a proper stake. The ring to attach the dogs leash swivels around the stake and is fantastic for making sure your dog stays as minimally tangled as possible.
Raised Cot Bed
These are one of my absolute favorite things to bring camping. They are great for hanging out by the fire. It will help to keep your dog off the cold ground, and out of the dirt. This means they stay warmer, and track less dirt into your tent at the end of the day. It is also a great way to help your dog really understand the boundary of Place. I have these inside my house when we are not camping to help my dogs stay used to them and we practice Place on them a lot. I usually have dogs hovering around them waiting for the dog on the bed to give up their spot!
It's always a good idea to bring along some extra cushion for your dog. We usually bring along flat crate mats and an extra blanket, either a mexican blanket or a fleece blanket. The fit perfectly on the raised beds for fireside snuggles, and then are easy to move into our tent at night to make sure the dogs stay cozy, and out of our sleeping bags. They are also nice and thin which makes them easy to roll up into a bedroll and easy to pack. If you want something really low profile, look into dog sleeping bags!
This seems like another obvious one, but there are a few things to keep in mind. It is a good idea to pre-portion your dogs food so that it is easy to just pour out, and makes it easier to pack. Always make sure to pack a little extra as well. If you are hiking a lot plan to make your meals either a little larger, or more nutrient dense by adding a higher calorie food like Kiwi Kitchen. Make sure you bring plenty of treats as well to keep up those skills on the trail, and to let your dog know when they're doing well at camp!
Collapsible bowls are a must for camping. They are much easier to pack than regular bowls, especially for taking on the trail for water. If you can find a two bowl set like this one you will have both bowls in one! These are fantastic and zip up nice and small into a single disc. We always bring along one bowl set per dog we have with us, and always take a collapsible bowl hiking as well so that the dogs can get a drink.
Another obvious one, but it's easy to forget. Make sure that your dog has their very own water supply, and be prepared to carry more than you expect on a hike. Especially in a Texas summer, your dog will need to stay hydrated to avoid heat stroke, just like you.
First Aid Kit
This is one of the most important things for you to carry, and probably the item that gets overlooked the most. Just like you should be carrying a first aid kit for yourself, get your dog one too. It is ideal to have a big kit that you can keep in the car or tent, and a smaller kit for hiking. You can find plenty of pre-made kits on Amazon, or build your own. If you choose to build your own make sure to do some research for pet specific first aid kits.
It doesn't happen very often in Texas, but if you will be camping in the cold at all it is important to bring along a coat for your dog. I highly recommend investing in a high quality coat, like this one from Hurtta, if you will be out in anything below 40 degrees. Our dogs get cold fast, and packing this coat is much easier than packing three comforters to wrap them up in next to the fire (things we have actually done while camping). Make sure to pay attention to overnight temperatures when deciding if you will need a coat for them or not.
It doesn't hurt to bring along some toys for fun either! It's a great way to keep your dog engaged at the campsite and burn out some energy after a long car ride!
So there you have it. Our short list of must haves for camping and hiking with your dog. Did we miss anything you always take with you? Don't forget to make a list and check it off as you pack so that nothing gets left behind!