Hiking and Camping with your Dog

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Avid outdoors dog owners swear that a dog can appreciate a spectacular panoramic view as much as a human can. Dogs discover interesting features you might otherwise overlook, and a dog is thrilled at the new smells and sites of a camp site. Some avid outdoors people believe that a dog can appreciate a spectacular panoramic view as much as a human can. But when bringing your dog along on a camping or backpacking trip, you need to make extra plans specifically for your canine companion.

Preparations

Vaccinations and License

It is of absolute importance that your dog’s vaccinations be up-to-date, as dogs can encounter unvaccinated animals while camping. Dog licenses should also be current. And ask your vet about the areas where you will be camping/traveling, as some carry additional health risks for dogs and may warrant additional precautions.

Know Your Dog

What excites your dog? What puts your dog “on guard”? What makes your dog bark, growl or whimper? Know your dog’s language, know what sets him off, and know how to calm him down. Learn to read his tail, eyes, ears and body posture. If you can’t anticipate your dogs reactions to various situations, there is no way you are ready to camp with your dog.

Dog obedience classes are ESSENTIAL for you to understand dogs.

Start With Short Day Trips

Dogs stress out when their routine changes. Too much stress can lead to erratic, aggressive behavior, even illness. Getting your dog comfortable to the many scenarios he’ll encounter while camping in the weeks before your trip is easy and fun. It will also help you further know and bond with your dog (and this is always, always a good thing) There are many dog friendly state parks in Ohio, with a wealth of information on each park available online.

Leash Your Dog

No matter how well-behaved you think your dog is, it is both impolite and dangerous to other campers NOT to have your dog somehow under your control at all times. Your friendly, unleashed dog could wander into a campsite where there is a dog-aggressive dog or a dog-aggressive PERSON, and the results can be disastrous, even deadly. Don’t chance it — keep your dog leashed, unless you can absolutely assure that your dog will NOT leave your campsite without you, even if a dog wanders by. As someone on a dog-hike discussion group noted, “while he is your ‘puddin’, sweetums’, or darlin’, to the rest of the world he is an unfamiliar 40 pound carnivore.” Don’t assume every person is a dog lover and wants to get a closer look.

Physical Demands

While camping with your dog is not nearly as physically-demanding as hiking, for many dogs, camping will mean some increase in physical activity, however slight; there will be more opportunities for walking, running and exploring than are usually found in their day-to-day routine, and the terrain may be more challenging. A visit to the veterinarian to evaluate general health is a good idea before your dog camps for the first time.

Interested in learning more?  consider purchasing the Hiking and Camping with your dog booklet