The snow is melting in the high country and you’re getting that familiar itch for the warm glow of a campfire, smores, and sleeping in your cozy tent under the stairs. If, like so many dog owners, you take your dog everywhere and hope to keep them safe during camping season, there are a few simple but effective methods that can insure your dog doesn’t have any run-ins with the local wildlife and doesn’t go barreling off a cliff near your campsite.
Camp with Other Dogs
As long as the other dogs in your group are well-trained and socialized they will form a natural pack in which more dominant members will keep the less dominant members in line. Not to mention, this pack will offer more protection should there be coyotes or mountain lions in the area. If all dogs are good with voice command, allow them to chase each other, sniff the perimeter of your camp site, and chew sticks to their hearts’ content. Make sure that all owners are watching their animal at all times.
If your dog is flying solo, walk the perimeter of the camping ground with your dog several times when you get there. If he tries to venture beyond your vision, call him back and give them the cue that he is to stay nearby.
At night, make sure he stays near the campfire, particularly if he’s a smaller dog that could become easy prey for larger wild animals.
Consider Vibration and Tone Collars
If your animal needs to be reigned in just a little bit more, consider training him with a vibration and tone collar before camping.
There are a variety of collars on the market, many of which do not shock the dog but, rather, use vibrations and tones to gently remind the dog of their boundaries.
Practice using these collars while your dog is hiking off-leash or playing in the backyard. Remember to help your animal form a positive association with responding to the vibration or tone. For example, give him a high-profile treat when he responds immediately.
How to Leave Your Dog at the Campsite Safely
Though not always the best idea, there may be times when you simply must leave your dog at the campsite. There are several ways to do this safely.
If you’re leaving your dog in the tent:
- It should be noted that its generally unwise to leave your dog in your tent for long stretches of time since he may easily find a way to damage the tent or escape from it. Plus he’s more vulnerable to large predators such as mountain lions when confined to a tent.
- If you do leave your dog unattended in the tent, be sure to check back every hour or so.
- Make sure he has plenty of water and chew toys.
- Tents can get hot. If your tent is under a tree and well-shaded, your animal should be comfortable. However, if the tent is in direct sunlight, keep in mind that it will heat up fast; if this is the case, you should seriously rethink not taking him with you.
- If possible, have your dog attached to a tie-off that is either staked in the ground or securely wrapped around a tree. This way, even if he escapes from the tent, he won’t get very far.
Practice Makes Perfect
Take your dog camping as a puppy so he can get use to the tent, car ride, the fire, and all the new sights, sounds, and smells camping brings. Here are some things you can do to encourage a well-behaved camping dog.
- Feed your dog in the tent and call it their “home”
- Keep bones, balls, and other treats around the campsite
- Give puppies lots of treats and praise for staying with you near the tent and general camping area.
- Start off by using a dog-run between trees so he can have freedom but stay safe. Eventually, give him more and more freedom.