Are you planning to take your pooch with you on your next camping adventure? Then you'd best read our handy guide for some tips to ensure that everyone has a tail-waggingly good time........
So, the car is packed, the beers are chilling in the cool box, the sunshine is on order. You're all ready for a camping adventure! But what about your four legged friend? If you've never been camping with your pooch before then it could be easy to feel overwhelmed and put off. But worry not, here's some handy advice with all you need to know.
One of the most important starting point is that your dog is socialised and used to being around people. If they're fairly easy going and well trained and behaved then so much the better. Being used to being out and about in the outdoors and good around other people, children and dogs is fairly essential. If your dog is disobedient, excessively noisy or nervous and aggressive around strangers, then it would be a good idea to try some obedience training before you go. It may also help to have several short day trips into the countryside to get your dog used to unfamiliar sights, sounds and people.
The next obvious point on the list is to check that the campsite you intend to visit accepts pets (Dolbryn certainly welcomes dogs!). I’ve found that there are a few campsites who do not allow dogs, and there are many who charge an extra nightly supplement. There’s a helpful, but not exhaustive, list of dog-friendly campsites at dogfriendlybritain.co.uk
If you’re going to a new area, it’s also a good idea to check on dog admittance policies of attractions and pubs close by, in case the weather turns and you need to take shelter. One dog owner we spoke to also always checks the location of the nearest vet, in case of emergencies.
Next is to ensure pooch is adequately packed for. You’ll need plenty of food and fresh water. Dried food is handy because it’s not as messy, smelly and doesn’t go off as quickly. There are several ranges of collapsible food and water bowls on the market, but pooch’s usual bowls will do just as well.
Most of the dog owners we spoke to, and we agree, insisted that a tether (a giant corkscrew shaped contraption that is twisted into the grass and the dog’s lead is clipped or tied to the top) is perhaps the most essential item. It means your dog can be tethered while you're busy and you don't have to worry about them wandering off to investigate the smell of sausages cooking on the BBQ across the field. They are widely available in camping shops.
Bringing your dog’s own bed from home will mean that it is in comfortable and familiar sleeping surroundings. Don’t forget to pack an extra blanket in case the temperature drops (especially for short or thin haired dogs), and a plastic-backed blanket to put under the bed is essential to ensure damp and cold don’t seep through the groundsheet.
You could also pack some games and toys for your dog to play with. Frisbees and balls are great in campsites with open spaces (some larger campsites even have dedicated dog walking and playing areas), or bring chews or rope toys. And don’t forget a plentiful supply of poop scoop bags (biodegradable ones are best); you can never have too many, and a sturdy lead.
So, you’ve arrived at the site, and everyone’s excited, including the dog. Most sites will have a list of rules concerning dog behaviour; the most common are the obvious ones. Keep them under control at all times, and never, ever leave their excrement on or around the camping field.
It’s also good etiquette to control barking and noise, especially late at night and early morning and don’t let your dog stray and disturb other campers. You might think your dog is the bees’ knees, so it’s easy to forget that there are some people who dislike dogs or would rather not be pestered by a wagging tail and a slobbery nose. It’s essential to respect other people’s opinions.
Make sure there’s always fresh drinking water (without any creepy-crawling additions) available. Don’t forget to store any left-over food securely to stop foraging wild animals that come looking for a stray dog biscuit or two.
When it comes to bed time, opinions vary as to whether your dog should be inside the tent with you, outside in the porch (if you have one) or even in the car. This may well be dictated by the size of your tent.
Above all remember that your dog will love camping as much as you do, so long as he’s happy and comfortable, much like humans. He’ll enjoy being around the new sights and experiences, and he’ll love having the chance to spend lots of time bonding with his family. Remember to involve your dog in whatever you do and reward him for good behaviour.
It’s also likely that you’ll meet and chat to lots of people you might not otherwise have, as one thing’s certain, your dog will attract much more attention than you will. Here’s to a wag-tastic camping holiday.