Before you head out, you’ll need to do a bit of planning. This helps to ensure that you and your dog have the best possible experience. Leaving a vital piece of equipment at home or heading somewhere your pet won’t be welcome are certain ways to ruin an otherwise great adventure. Check out the following tips and ideas before you, and your dog hit the trail.
Are dogs allowed at your destination?
Unless you are going camping deep in the wilderness, there are likely to be some rules in place regarding dogs. Make sure you understand these rules before you go, so you won’t be caught off guard when you arrive.
Some locations may not allow pets. Verify that any camping spots you have planned will let your dog stay with you. Check to see what rules there might be that might affect what your dog is allowed to do. Keeping him on a leash is frequently required, but other rules may also apply. Knowing what to expect will help you have fun when you get there.
Be sure your dog has a collar and identification on at all times
A sturdy nylon collar with his tags securely attached to it can help your dog to get back to you if you should become separated. Use a permanent marker to write your cell phone number directly on the collar, along with your dog’s name. Tags sometimes get lost during hiking or playing, so this makes an excellent backup way of identifying her. If she should become separated from you, this could make the difference between coming home or not.
An implanted chip is also a good idea. If your dog’s collar falls off for any reason (and trust me, they do), a chip is the last line of defense. A veterinarian or animal shelter will check found dogs for chips and will use that information to contact you. Be sure your info is current.
Take a sturdy leash
Even if you plan on heading out to the wilderness, sometimes you’ll need to have your German shepherd on a leash. Take a stiff nylon or leather leash that will be difficult for him to break if he gets overly excited. This helps you to keep him under control in a variety of situations. You’ll want to keep him safely away from other dogs, wild animals, cars, and other campers unless you give him permission to meet new people.
A longer, retractable leash can be an asset in areas where your dog is required to be leashed at all times. This gives her room to roam around but still allows you to be in control. Retract the leash in situations that could be dangerous for her, such as near cliffs or waterfalls, then give her more freedom when you feel that it’s safe to do so.
Remember that your German Shepherd has to eat!
You wouldn’t deliberately forget to feed your pal, but sometimes it’s easy to overlook things like dog dishes. Be sure to pack your dog’s food and water bowls. Also, bring enough food to feed him for the length of your camping adventure. If at all possible, add enough food for a couple of extra days just in case you get delayed.
Bring him a bottle or a canteen full of water from home so he can drink as you travel. If there won’t be a water source at your destination, bring enough water so that your dog has plenty to drink the entire time. If there are streams or lakes in the area, he can usually drink from those, and you can refill his canteen at the same time.
Make sure your German Shepherd’s shots are current
Check with your veterinarian to make sure that all of your pet’s shots are up-to-date, and be sure she has all the recommended vaccines for the area you’ll be traveling to. Take a copy of her health records with you, especially her rabies vaccination certificate, in case of an emergency. Store these in a plastic bag to keep them safe.
Be prepared for bugs
Camping means an awesome, fun time, but it also usually means bugs. Your German shepherd’s heavy double coat can give those bugs a great hiding place if you let them get in. Fleas and ticks are especially common, and not only will they make your dog miserable, but they’re liable to find their way to you as well. Use a good preventive treatment before you go. One that repels and kills a variety of pests, including mosquitoes, is especially helpful. Ask your veterinarian for advice.
Don’t forget a first aid kit
Be sure to bring along a first aid kit. This is very important when camping with German shepherds, as these active canines can end up getting hurt when they’re out exploring. While your dog is unlikely to be seriously injured, a good first aid kit will help you manage anything that might happen.
The American Kennel Club suggests that you include things like
- tweezers for removing ticks and splinters
- both pads and rolls
- styptic powder to stop bleeding in a hurry
- hydrogen peroxide (this can be used to make your dog vomit in an emergency)
- vet wrap
- and antibiotic ointment.
Check with your vet for recommendations suited to your dog. If your dog takes any kind of medication, be sure to include that.
A camping trip with your German shepherd will strengthen the bond between you and your pet, as well as creating lasting memories. A bit of preparation will help make the trip enjoyable and allow you to relax instead of worrying about what you might have overlooked. Be sure to bring a camera, too, so you can share memories of your camping adventure with friends and family. Above all, enjoy this time in the wilderness with your German shepherd.