There’s never been a better time to take advantage of the great outdoors, and a camping trip with your four-legged friend may be the perfect break for you both.

While we wouldn’t recommend taking your cat or rabbits camping, it can be the ideal getaway for you and your dog. As a lot of camping holidays lend themselves perfectly to walking, it’s great for active pooches (and owners!) who love to explore.

Never been camping with your pup before? We’ve put together some tips to get you started.

Location, location, location

Before you can start thinking about activities and packing lists, you need to think about where your outdoor adventure will take place. There are loads of dog-friendly campsites and caravan sites across the UK to choose from, so you’ll be spoiled for choice. A few things that can help you choose are:

  • How far away is it? Can your dog cope with that journey?
  • Are there any local lockdown restrictions in place that might affect your trip?
  • Are there lots of dog friendly walks and activities nearby?
  • What are the on-site facilities like for people and dogs?
  • Are there places on-site to safely dispose of your dog’s poo?
  • Are there any places on-site your dog wouldn’t be allowed?
  • Is there anywhere you can safely let your dog play off-lead?
  • If you plan to eat out, are there lots of dog-friendly restaurants and pubs nearby or on-site?

Also, think about the weather. Some areas of the UK are a little warmer at different times of year than others. Make sure your dog will be able to cope with any warmer weather. Just like cars, tents and caravans can quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures in warm weather, so dogs should never be left alone in them.

Likewise, camping in the rain is no fun, especially with muddy paws! Always check the forecast before you go. Remember to check out more top tips on planning a staycation in the UK.

The right gear

Your dog’s packing list is just as important as your own. You may find there are a few extra things you need for them compared to if you were staying in a hotel or holiday cottage. There are a few must-haves you should definitely take with you:

  • Doggy first-aid kit
  • Any medication they are on
  • Enough of their food to last your trip – big bags of dog food can be a bit of a nightmare when you’re camping, so we’d recommend pre-weighing what they’ll need and storing it in an airtight container
  • Plenty of poo bags
  • Lots of dog-friendly toys
  • A waterproof bed you can wipe dirt and mud off easily
  • A towel for any unexpected swimming or mud
  • Some comfy blankets for those colder nights
  • Collapsible food and water bowls
  • Spare lead
  • The number of a vet local to where you’ll be staying
  • A tether – this is definitely a good one to consider if you’re on a busy campsite but want to hang out without your dog taking off at the first whiff of a barbecue!

Make sure your dog’s microchip details are up-to-date before you go and that they always wear a collar and tag!

Keeping busy

We’re really lucky in the UK to have some beautiful countryside and woodland to explore and go on long walks. Sadly, not all of our dogs can go walking for hours, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still enjoy a camping trip with you.

Take a look at the area you’re visiting to see if there are any other dog friendly activities to do. If your pooch doesn’t mind water and is used to it, then paddle boarding or canoeing could be a fun activity. Or perhaps they’d just like to play on the beach with you.

Whatever your dog enjoys doing with you, make sure there will be plenty of opportunity for it! For some inspiration, you can check out some of our favourite dog walks in England or the best dog friendly beaches across the UK.

Practice makes perfect

If your dog has never been camping, or it’s been a while, then you might need to give them time to get used to it before you go.

If you can, pitch your tent up in the garden and give your dog a chance to explore it and get used to it well in advance of your trip. Remember to reward them for showing an interest and when they voluntarily go inside (you may need to use a bit of edible persuasion in the form of their favourite treat!).

Once they’re happy with the tent, try setting it up like you would for camping. Again, let them get used to this and make them a nice comfy bed inside that will be theirs. Reward them for getting in their bed and spending time in there.

Once they’re happy, try spending a test night out in your tent. It sounds silly, but will really help your dog to get used to camping somewhere they are familiar with before going to campsite.

Some tents can be a real challenge to put up so it’s a great idea to have something to keep you dogs entertained and secure while you’re preoccupied. A toy or safe chew and a travel crate can be perfect.

Likewise, if you’re taking a caravan, your dog will still need a bit of time to get used to the experience! Practice in the same way you would a tent, and set any boundaries from day one (for example, if your dog isn’t allowed in certain rooms in your caravan or isn’t allowed on the furniture, they need to know this before going somewhere new and exciting!).

Good manners

It might be a good idea to brush up on your dog’s basic training before you go camping with them. Campsites can be really exciting places for dogs who love people and they can sometimes find it hard to contain that excitement! Also make sure your food is kept safely stored away from your dog in sealed containers, or you may find it’s not there for long.

Make sure your dog’s recall is really good before taking them away camping. When they’re coming back perfectly every time at home, practice in parks or other busier places to see how they get on with distractions. Make sure you have their favourite thing in the world while you practice to reward them with (a little boiled chicken works really well!).

If you think they may be a little too curious, consider taking a tether so you can all enjoy being outside your tent or caravan without worrying your dog will run off to other side of the campsite.

Courtesy of PDSA – 03/08/2020