Camping can be a great escape for us humans and for our canine companions as well. Parks and private campgrounds must let you bring your assistance dog, even if pet dogs are not permitted; also, your guide, hearing, or service dog can’t be restricted to certain areas, as is common practice for pets at campgrounds.
Your partner is better trained than a pet, but don’t be too overconfident. An entirely new environment, unfamiliar wildlife, and drastic changes to routine can challenge her training. With the right preparations and precautions, though, a camping trip with your assistance dog should go smoothly.
Read on for some important ways to help ensure things go well.
Tips for Camping with Your Assistance Dog
- Consult your vet about comprehensive parasite prevention before your camping expedition. External parasites like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are concerns in many places during much of the year. Also, a number of internal parasites can be transmitted by external parasites or small prey animals like rodents and birds, or be picked up from the environment; some common ones include tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, and heartworms.
- Be sure all your assistance dog’s vaccinations are up to date—especially rabies.
- Many campgrounds are surrounded by thousands of acres of wilderness. It’s wise to microchip your assistance dog if you haven’t already (and if you have, make sure your registration and contact information is up to date). Also, put a collar or ID tag on her that includes the number for a cell phone you have with you.
- Brush up on basic hot weather care or cold weather care for dogs as applicable. Remember, your hearing, guide, or service dog is just as susceptible as you to discomfort and dangers related to inclement weather.
- Don’t forget canine sun protection if you’re camping or spending time in an unsheltered environment like the beach, desert, etc.
- Find out in advance about access to potable drinking water (you’ll want to know for yourself, too!). Bring along bottled water anyway, and don’t forget your dog’s water dish. Replace drinking water frequently, as it’s likely to get dirt, leaves, and other stuff in it. It’s crucial to meet her water needs while you’re enjoying the great outdoors. Just don’t let your assistance dog drink out of standing bodies of water.
- Write down a pooch packing checklist so you remember everything. Don’t forget a food dish, plenty of food and treats, a leash or harness, some familiar bedding and toys, a dog blanket, a cage or crate, poop bags, and your canine first aid kit.
- Bring a few extra towels in case your dog goes for a swim or ends up needing a bath.
- Your assistance dog is probably accustomed to driving around, but an unusually long trip might trigger motion sickness. Read over this article about car sickness so you can take some simple preventive measures, know the signs to watch for, and can handle a problem if it arises.
- Locate the nearest animal hospital to your campsite in case of an emergency. There are plenty of search tools online; for example, here’s one for finding the closest one accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association.
- While camping, check over your service, hearing, or guide dog regularly and thoroughly for ticks, thorns, burrs, cuts, and other problems. Tend to anything you find promptly to prevent complications.
- Never leave dog food out at your campsite, as it will attract bugs and foraging animals, including potentially dangerous ones like raccoons, foxes, or bears. Make sure dry food is sealed in a tight container or secure in your car or RV. Properly dispose of all food waste—canine and human—to prevent attracting wild animals.
- While an assistance dog can be counted on much more than a pet dog to stay away from other animals, the wilderness has plenty of wildlife that can be dangerous. Nearby animals may be perceived as a threat; also, they obviously aren’t nearly as well trained as your companion. Take care to keep her far away from all animals.
- Stick to your dog’s familiar routines as much as possible. Feed and walk her at the same times as at home. This helps to minimize stress and keep her focused on her responsibilities.
Most of the common potential problems during a camping trip with a dog can be avoided with careful preparation. Talk to your vet and write up a checklist and you’ve taken the two most important steps in preventing camping complications.
Have a great vacation!