We got an adorable puppy over the winter and decided during the first warm weekend in April to bring the little furry one camping. From this first trip with the pup, we learned a few things that may have been good to know beforehand. Below are those tips for camping with a puppy.
1. She’s young and can be easily scared. If you live in any kind of an urban or suburban area, the noises and smells that your puppy will encounter while camping are entirely different from what she already knows. Be prepared for your puppy to act differently as well. She may not come as readily, bark more, or even be more aggressive. There is no way to know how she will react to these new circumstances the first time because much of the camping experience will be brand new for the pup; if it is a pup, likely she will be a little scared.
2. Remember to bring the essentials: a toy, something nice for it to sleep on, leash, bowl, poop apparatus. You may not want to carry the pup’s water bowl and a ball along with plastic bags, but having these things can make a huge difference. I suggest having the leash with you always-even if you never have to use it. It can be especially helpful while you are setting up camp or if you happen across another set of campers with a dog. Toys are also helpful for distracting the pup while you set up camp or cook or if she needs something to keep her busy while you’re trying to sleep in the tent.
However the thing for the pup to sleep on doesn’t have to be whatever she normally sleeps with. A shirt that you don’t plan on wearing the next day or an outer jacket should be fine (or if your pup is like mine, she will simply love rolling around on top of your sleeping bag and eventually climbing into it with you.)
3. Check tick and flea season! Be sure to protect your pup from ticks and fleas and check to see if tick season is unusually longer (as it may be during 2012 as we had a light winter.) Be sure to have a small bottle of tick spray with you, or a tick collar or whatever you like to use. Lastly, scour the puppy for ticks afterward. Even a strong tick spray may not be enough for a pup that finds a nest of ticks.
O yes. Remember the pup might like to climb into your sleeping bag during the night? Scour yourself for ticks, too.
4. Bring a little patience. Puppy may love camping or hate it. It may take her a while to get used to camping, the new smells and being outside with so many new things to discover. She may not want to hike as long as you do. At any rate, this is a completely new experience for little pup and you must give her time to adjust to the new situation.
You may need to reassure the pup once it gets dark that all the noises she hears are not dangerous ones. You’ll probably also need to show it how to do new things (i.e. how to climb over rocks, tree limbs, stairs, ect.) The pup may also be unsure about whatever food you brought her to eat if it is in a different bowl or a different food entirely. Regardless, this is the pup’s first time and will definitely need a little patience (and maybe also a toy to make her happy).
5. Treats. Maybe this should have been number one. Treats are essential and they get their own special category because they probably do in the puppy’s head, too! Basically, bring lots of delicious treats. This is essential if you are planning on letting puppy of her leash, or when giving her any independence. Be sure to thoroughly encourage desired habits (i.e. come when called) by treating well and frequently!
Our first time camping with the puppy was really fun. We didn’t go terribly far or on a rigorous hike. We took it pretty slow and did a leisurely hike with the pup running back and forth between us. Ultimately, the pup loved it as much as we did, but it took some getting used to. She did bark at a lot of strange noises in the night and had to learn that the campfire was hot, but also got to discover lots of new, fun things and cuddle in my sleeping back all night. Overall, I think it was a great camping trip.