As emails from you fellow campers have started to arrive in our inbox on a more regular basis, Kristin and I thought it was time to start a new section here at The Touring Camper: Camper Conversations. So if you have questions, send us an email, and when we reply if we think your question is something other readers would be interested in, we may post our response over on the blog as well. First up, a question from Jennifer about camping with dogs:
We just bought a hybrid travel trailer. We are very excited since we are both teachers and have the summer off. I have been doing a lot of research and came across your site. The one thing I’m nervous about is traveling with the dogs. They are 1 now but still puppies. How do you choose places to go that are good with dogs? Some say dog friendly but when you read fine print on policies they are really strict and dogs can’t go anywhere. Do you ever leave them in camper and go somewhere? I saw you have a crate. Any info would be great. Thanks.
Great question, Jennifer. We have camped with our dogs from the time Sydney (our Golden Retriever) was just a puppy, and Olive (our Goldendoodle) came along on her first camping trip just a few months after we adopted her. We have rarely NOT had the dog(s) with us–but their presence does require a few more considerations when it comes to campgrounds and touring adventures. So below are some thoughts on how we plan with pets in mind.
How to choose where to go:
The first step when choosing a campground is to see whether it accepts pets. Private campgrounds will advertise this usually on their Frequently Asked Questions pages, while public campgrounds usually have a search function to see whether they have pet sites, or sometimes there will be an icon on the main page indicating pets are allowed (see this link for an example). I will often call the campground to verify that pets are accepted BEFORE I make any online reservations. That is also a good time to clarify whether the campground has any restrictions on the type of breed, size, or number of pets.
Even if the campground accepts pets, many campgrounds have specific pet loops, so you need to make sure that the loop or site you choose is considered pet friendly. Online you can often view a campground map that will have a map key showing you where in the campground pets are permitted.
It has been our experience that state parks are more accommodating to pets than some private campgrounds, which often have a lot more rules and regulations governing pets.
Leaving pets in the camper:
We have often had to leave our dogs in the camper while we are out touring. While we are gone, Sydney does not need to be in a crate but Olive tends to have some separation anxiety issues so we choose to crate her while we are away. We have had several crates in the past but we love the L.L. Bean collapsible crate because of its size when collapsed and its ease of use. (If you have a chewer, though, it might not be the best option since it is made from material–albeit a heavy duty material.)
Before we leave the dogs, we make sure they:
- have eaten,
- gone to the bathroom,
- have fresh water,
- and have a chew toy.
- adjust the camper’s thermostat so that they will be comfortable while we are gone;
- turn on our camper radio, putting it at a level high enough to provide background noise, but not so loud that it would disturb our camping neighbors;
- and lock our camper.
Leaving your dog alone in the camper may not be feasible for dogs that are prone to barking while their owners are away. You will not have happy camper neighbors if you leave for three hours and your dog barks the entire time. (Many campgrounds reserve the right to evict you if your pets are a nuisance to others.)
The first trip we took Olive on, we were concerned she might have a hard time and bark incessantly while we were gone–and the campground we were staying at made it very clear that disruptive dogs would result in eviction. So before we arrived, we called the campground to ask for a recommendation for a reputable kennel–i.e., doggy daycare–in the area. We were able to make reservations for Olive for the two days we were going to be off touring the area. We just had to make sure we got her the kennel cough vaccination before we left on our trip.
Before our trip we had also investigated and experimented with a citronella bark collar–a gentle alternative to shock collars. But Olive would often bark so much that she depleted the citronella canister quickly–and she didn’t seem to be especially phased by the smell but meanwhile the area around her was quite fragrant. So for her it wasn’t a good fit, but for other pet owners we have talked to, it worked well, so this might be another good option for keeping your dog(s) quiet while you are away from your camper. I would recommend testing it out before your trip, however. If the citronella doesn’t phase your dog either, then it may not solve your problem and leave you with another: a very odoriferous camper!
Campground etiquette with pets:
Most campground etiquette with pets is common sense:
- Keep your pet on a leash whenever it is outside of the camper. While many people love pets and don’t mind a friendly doggie greeting, others are not so thrilled. When the dogs aren’t on a leash for walks, we use a longer lead and a stake in the campsite. The stake has to be carefully positioned to prevent people from tripping AND the dog from getting tangled–and even with careful placement you may still have some issues. 🙂
- Clean up after your dog. Not all campgrounds have bags stations to clean up after your dog so we always have extra plastic shopping bags that we keep in the camper storage compartment. A baby wipes container works great for keeping them all in one place.
Helpful pet gear for camping:
Aside from dog food, bowls, a dog bed, chew toy, and possibly a collapsible crate, here are a few more items you might find helpful:
- Flea and tick medicine: We once stopped to let Sydney go the bathroom at a roadside rest. When Jarrett came back from the grassy area, his pants were speckled with ticks, and yet Sydney (who was on flea and tick medicine) did not have one tick on her. We became firm believers that day in the power of flea and tick medicine!
- A leash and stake (as mentioned above)
- Up-to-date ID tag or microchipping
- A copy of the dog’s up-to-date vaccination record (this may be needed if you are crossing state lines or country borders).
So those are some of the ways we have integrated our pets into our camping adventures. Be sure to check out our Pinterest page Camping with Pets, where we are pinning additional ideas and tips for camping with your furry friends.
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