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Camping with a dog for the first time: what you should consider
Going camping with your four-legged friend for the first time is an exciting thing. Enjoying free time together, spending a lot of time in nature and cuddling together extensively – that pleases both sides. However, not only with camping beginners do some questions arise about camping with the dog. What is the best way to transport my four-legged friend? How do I get him used to driving? Where can my dog lie during the day or at night? How do I keep him from barking all the time?
Camping with a dog – a safe journey
Before the vacation can start, the trip to the travel destination has to be made. Stowing all your luggage and passengers is a thing in itself. Where should the dog go? Safety is also very important when transporting your four-legged friend. There are various ways of transporting it by car or camper. These range from portable and permanently installed boxes to seat belts with dishes. Some dogs feel better when they are in a box and cannot see anything around them, others definitely want to look out of the window.
Each of these variants has advantages and disadvantages, but they all have one thing in common: your dog has to get used to it first. You can’t just put it in a carry case and drive off. The same goes for a seat belt. Therefore, you should think about where and how you want to accommodate your four-legged friend and practice it with him in good time before going on vacation.
If you only look for a solution on the day of departure, this creates stress on all sides. You can prevent this by timely planning and regular practice with your animal.
Driving the dog
Timely practice also applies when it comes to driving yourself. Some dogs love it from the start. Others are afraid or even travel sick. “Close your eyes and through” is not an option because it can make the problem worse.
It is best to start practicing a few weeks before the planned trip. It is important that your dog has a safe place in the car or motorhome where he can sit or lie well. The stay in the vehicle should always be positive for your four-legged friend. The more you step into training, the greater the chances of success. Therefore, it makes sense to get the dog used to the vehicle itself before you take the first trip with it. Then you increase the duration in small stages and end each trip with something pleasant, for example a nice walk.
Camping with a dog – staying at the campsite
Having finally arrived at the travel destination, the next questions arise: Where is the best place for the dog to stay, both indoors and outdoors? After all, he should be able to calm down and take a nap undisturbed. And you certainly don’t want to have to constantly step over him.
In such a small space as in a caravan or mobile home, the possibilities for lying down are of course limited. Depending on the size of your four-legged friend, his blanket or basket can fit under the table. So he is right in the middle instead of just there. Some dogs prefer to lie in the motorhome in one of the driver’s seats and make themselves comfortable there. Our dog Merle chose the dashboard as her favorite place. From there she has everything in view and her calm in front of our other two dogs. They love their place under the table.
You can also put a blanket on your dog’s bed or bench for your dog. There is no reason not to leave it there if you don’t mind. What is allowed is what suits you and does not endanger anyone. For example, if your dog does not like a visit from strangers, it should rather not be in the middle of the path, but rather a little apart.
For particularly hot days, it is recommended to use a cooling blanket. Your four-legged friend should always be able to voluntarily leave it if it gets too fresh.
Where and how can the dog be outside?
When you are outdoors, your dog should have a say. Sizzling him in the sun is not a good idea. Give your four-legged friend the opportunity to choose between shade and sun. If this is not feasible, then prefer a shady spot, because dogs can also get a sunstroke. If you camp in cooler temperatures, remember that the ground is fresh too. There are special outdoor blankets that are dirt-repellent and waterproof and keep the dog comfortably warm.
A good solution as a place to stay outdoors is portable boxes. This way your dog is in the fresh air, but still has a safe retreat that also offers him some privacy. Many dogs like such kennels because of their cave-like character and can relax well in them.
Tips: If your dog cannot rest outside, you can put up a mobile privacy screen. So you shield it a little from the optical stimuli. Before setting it up, check with the campsite whether this is allowed. Another option is to park the camper / caravan from the outset so that it does not point directly to the path.
Free, on a leash or with a fence?
Whether you leash your dog or it can run around freely depends on the place rules, among other things. You can find out more about rules for dogs at campsites here.
Leashes are compulsory in most places. But even if this is not the case, you should consider the other guests and keep your four-legged friend with you. Not everyone thinks it’s great to suddenly have an animal visitor at the camping table, who tries to talk him off with his loyal eyes or licks the children’s face.
By the way, keeping your dog on a leash doesn’t mean that it has to be attached to a short leash. You can also use a tow line, a rope or a lanyard with carabiners. Now all you need is something stable to fasten the line. This can be a tree or a special ground anchor, which of course has to be able to withstand the weight of your dog. Metal plates with an eyelet, which are simply placed under the tires, have also proven their worth – if in doubt, they will probably also withstand an entire husky pack, because the camper’s own weight makes them almost immovable!
If you leash your four-legged friend elsewhere on the vehicle, choose the attachment wisely. A suddenly running dog can develop enormous strength and cause corresponding damage. The exterior mirror of your car, for example, is therefore less suitable for securing a large dog.
Note: If you attach your dog to a long leash, it should be worn with a harness. If he suddenly runs into the leash, the high forces can cause injuries to the cervical spine and / or the larynx.
Another option for your four-legged friend to stay outdoors is to put up a fence. However, you should inquire in advance whether this is allowed or possible on the course of your choice. Some campers and operators are bothered by it and not every surface is suitable for sticking the posts into the ground. Such a mobile fence is of course less stable than one made of wood or metal. It therefore only makes sense if your four-legged friend does not run into it with momentum. A very boisterous dog should be secured in a different way.
What should you consider when camping with a dog?
Basically, it is about meeting all requirements as best as possible: yours, those of your dog and those of the other campers.
The goal is for everyone to have a great vacation and that requires mutual respect. Keep in mind that not every guest is as enthusiastic about your dog as you are. So keep your four-legged friend under control and make sure that he doesn’t do his business on the court or clear away his legacies immediately. You should also leave the place with your dog to “pee-pee” if possible or – if available – go to the designated area.
However, being considerate doesn’t mean that you have to make yourself invisible. Of course, it can sometimes happen that your dog barks or an accident happens. After all, you are only human and your dog is not a machine. Do not put yourself under pressure to want the perfect camping dog, but take it as relaxed as possible – and in return, show yourself tolerant if the neighboring children are loud or the party next door lasts a little longer.
How do I keep my dog from barking?
I know only too well how annoying a constantly yapping dog is. My Merle is not only characterized by a shrill voice, but also by its extremely high need for communication – a fatal combination! Keeping them from barking is a job in itself. With patience, consistency and reward, we have already made great strides.
It is important to understand why your dog is barking. The reasons for this can be very different:
– he wants to keep people or animals away from his territory,
– he is afraid of strangers,
– he is bored,
– he wants attention,
– he is flooded with stress and stressed.
Depending on what the cause is, there are different approaches:
Above all, a dog overwhelmed by stimuli needs rest. In everyday life he probably has a fixed rhythm, which he now lacks. Then there are the many impressions that hit him when camping. Like an over-the-top child who starts to whine, some dogs reduce their stress by barking.
Tip: offer him a retreat where he can relax. Chewing can also help your dog relax. It is therefore best to pack enough chewing objects, for example a Kong.
It looks different if your dog is afraid of people or reacts aggressively to them. Suppressing his barking makes little sense. It would be like putting a lid on a pot of boiling water: the pressure stays there. Sometimes it can be enough to provide a privacy screen. However, it may also be necessary to bring your dog into the mobile home or caravan as soon as it starts barking. If he behaves calmly again, he may go out again. This is how he learns that his undesirable behavior has consequences. You can find more information in this post.
Tip: Reward your dog as often as possible for being calm and not barking. We often take such moments for granted and only react when the four-legged friend behaves undesirably. In addition to sufficient rest, it is helpful for all barking dogs to offer them a safe retreat.
How do I find dog-friendly campsites or pitches?
If a dog is allowed in a place, it does not mean that the place is dog-friendly. It may be that your four-legged friend is allowed, but there are no further offers for him. You should therefore consider what is important to you in advance and take this into account when searching:
– Are there any extra costs for your dog?
– Are there enough opportunities to go for a walk?
– Are there special facilities / offers for the four-legged friends, for example an outdoor area, dog showers, opportunities for dog training or even an agility course?
– Are there swimming opportunities for the dogs?
By inquiring carefully, you are protecting yourself from unpleasant surprises. It is therefore best to read the reviews of other visitors.
Even if camping with dogs is new territory for you, you can take it easy. Just like you, your four-legged friend grows with his tasks. Many dogs quickly get used to the new environment and the strange noises. Consideration, prudent behavior and a good dose of serenity are a good mix so that your camping trip is a pleasant experience.
Do you want to do something good for your dog? Here in our e-book we show you how to make healthy food and snacks for your dog yourself.
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