How to Take Your Dog Camping for the First Time
Where to start when wanting to go camping with your dog?
Bringing your dog camping has become more and more popular in the last years. Because they spend a good part of the week waiting for you patiently, we tend to want to include them as much as possible in our activities!
So here is Alice, an almost two-year-old Australian Shepherd, which will be our guinea pig. Alice loves to be outside, to be pet by literally anyone, rolling in the mud, chasing squirrels and bathing in the fountain in front of the Maisonneuve Market (Oops! Shh! She’s not supposed to do that, but when it’s hot, it’s hot!)
Alice is a dog that has never seen a tent in her life and let’s not forget that dogs can be afraid of all sorts of things they have never seen before. You get what I’m saying?
Step One: First Contact with the Tent
Put the tent up in the living room one evening, ideally at least one week before the day of the camping trip. Let me tell you that if you do several hours of driving, arduously set up your camp and then your dog has a morbid fear of the tent, you will not be happy at all!
No sooner said than done, the tent will be set up in the middle of your small Montreal apartment. Now leave both sides of the tent open, throw in a few treats or your dog’s favourite toy and let the magic happen. Well … if the magic does not happen, leave the tent open for a few days and go inside to serve your bait of choice. When your dog finally decides to step inside, give him some yummy treats!
Step 2: Choose a Camping Spot
If we take our guinea pig for example, Miss Alice pretty much never barks at home, surrounded by four well insulated walls, comfortably seated on her (our) big couch on the third floor with the windows barely letting through the light chirping of the birds…
At this point, we’re in the tent in nature, or semi-nature, surrounded by children running around and playing happily. Alice is inside sleeping; she hears branches, noises, birds, squirrels, wind, children, other dogs, etc. She suddenly starts barking at every little noise, so there is no way to sleep, either for us or for our very close neighbours (who may not like dogs)!
All that to say that if this is your first experience with your dog camping, choose a calm camping spot that is not right next to the toilet area. If all goes well, you shall jump for joy and if it doesn’t, there will be less “damage control” to be done.
Here are some camping sites that are on my bucket list:
- Appalachian park
There is a sign that reads, “Welcome to the dogs!” In addition, all trails except one are free and dogs are allowed on the site absolutely everywhere (hiking, camping, accommodation, boat, pontoon, etc.)
- Poisson Blanc Regional Park
Beautiful place where you can camp on an island.
- Pilot projects at SEPAQ
Pilot projects in 3 national parks (About time! Oops, did I say that?). Do not forget that for the wildlife reserves, dogs are accepted, but with a limited access.
- Vallée Bras du Nord
Check out the pictures on their website, no need to say more!
- Ausable Chasm
When you make the reservation at this campground, there is a field designed to indicate the number of dogs that accompany you.
Step 3: Essentials to have when camping with your dog
Don’t overlook the fact that even if Miss Alice is a dog, she still need a certain level of comfort.
It does not need to be huge, but it still needs to accommodate your dog. For two adults and a 40 pound dog, we’ll be camping with the “Triarch 2” from The North Face. We love the headroom and feet area (plus the small extra space where Alice could sleep with all 4 paws in the air). If you do not have a tent though, treat yourself to a little extra and take the Triarch 3.
These are small items, which are inexpensive, but oh so useful! Carabiners are used to attach the dog leash to your bag as you walk in the forest and also simply to carry other objects.
Food & Drinks
I discovered a wonderful thing when I fell in love with the outdoors: retractable bowls. They can be attached to your backpack with a carabiner! Some people might not know these bowls, but for the people who want to go camping with their dog and have the least things to carry, these bowls are a must-have. Add to that the traditional Nalgene bottle and your 4-legged best friend will be thrilled.
I mentioned earlier that our guinea pig loved to roll in the mud and jump into the water. So, I do not see myself getting prepared to go to bed with Alice along with whole forest to sleep with us! I decided to give her my ultra quick drying microfibre towel (to be quite honest, it was mostly to find a reason to buy myself a new one). They are so thin that you won’t even notice you are carrying two!
There you go, you are now ready to go camping with your dog!