Tips for creating calm whilst camping

from Canine Behaviourist Caroline Wilkinson

If you’ve not camped with your dog before, summertime is certainly the time to give it a try! Not only is camping far cheaper than a hotel or cottage, but it carries so much more excitement and adventure for you and your dog, and it is a great low budget option for a night or two away!

Many dog owners feel concerned of how to keep their dog calm and safe. Or perhaps whether they’ll keep the whole campsite up all night! Some careful prep in advance can really help you all enjoy your outdoor adventures in a truly enjoyable way.

Safety First 

When we’re camping, tents don’t offer the same security as walls and a closed off garden, so keeping your dog safe is at the top of the list when sleeping under the stars.  

Within the tent - you either want to ensure that it has a zip as the main closure (as velcro door seals can be pushed apart by inquisitive noses!) or that you provide a crate to keep your dog safe and secure overnight. If your dog is used to sleeping in a crate at home, this is a great option - as not only will it allow them to feel comfortable overnight, but it gives you a safe space to secure them (perhaps with a nice Forthglade food stuffed Kong to entertain them) while you are putting up the tent on arrival.  

A long training lead is a must for when you’re hanging around the campsite - to allow your dog a little bit of freedom, whilst having them attached to either yourself or a securely fastened stake in the ground. The chances are there will be lots of different smells (and maybe the odd squirrel or deer) that could encourage your dog to wander off, so keep that longline attached at all times.  

Never leave your dog unattended when camping - especially not closing them into the tent on their own. Even if your dog feels relaxed when home alone, there’s a high chance they won’t enjoy it in a new space. 

 

Arriving at the Campsite 

On arrival allow your dog a calm stretch of their legs and toileting opportunity before you start trying to work your way through erecting the tent! Prep stuffed food toys or natural long-lasting treats to keep your dog occupied while you tackle the tent. In warm weather, avoid leaving them in the car as it can quickly heat up risking serious health conditions such as heat stroke. Where possible, if travelling in a group, have a dedicated dog carer who’s in charge of keeping your pup entertained and relaxed while setting up.   

Try to arrive earlier in the day, so your dog has some time to familiarise themselves to the environment before it’s time for bed. It also allows you time to ensure they’ve been walked and had some calming mental activity so they’re more tired overnight. 

 

Fuelling for adventure 

One of the most important items on the packing list for camping with your dog should be their regular food.  If their standard meals are forgotten and an alternative food required, then an upset tummy is likely to occur, which could be disastrous when camping! 

A natural and nutritious breakfast will set up a dog for a day exploring, whilst a healthy dinner will help them settle into a good night’s rest. Wet or dry food is equally good for adventures away from home. Forthglade’s natural wet meals are easily stored and simple to serve from the convenient trays, they also don’t need refrigeration until opened. The natural dry cold pressed recipes are also easy to store, transport and serve.  

When away from home it’s important to help dogs feel at ease when eating, so stick with their usual routine. Pack their food bowl, keep feeding times the same and provide lots of fresh drinking water. Don’t forget to pack plenty of tasty treats too, to encourage and reward good behaviour and to use within a few fun games too.  

 

Sleep Tight! 

A major concern when away from home, might be how well your dog will sleep overnight - whether they’ll be unsettled, crawling all over you, or perhaps barking at every noise outside. Trialling sleeping in your tent at home can be a good way to get your dog used to the enclosed new environment - and the novelty of sleeping on the ground next to you. Bring their bed (or crate) to ensure they have something that smells familiar to rest on - and consider placing it close to you. Even during warm summer days, temperatures can drop overnight - so pack plenty of blankets to layer up on your dog if required.  

A portable white noise machine (often used to help babies sleep) can be a great idea if your dog tends to be an alert barker. It will create a little buffer between the sound in your tent and those outside noises. So the sounds of other campers or wildlife might be less prominent. Start using this at home before you set off to help your dog get used to it. 

This summer we’ll be featuring fun-packed adventures, inspiring stories and more top tips from leading experts. So, lace up those hiking boots, pack the tent, pump up the paddleboard and head off on an adventure with your four-legged friend. Find out more here.

 

Too Much of a Good Thing 

While camping can provide you with some wonderful time together and plenty of time for outdoor adventures, if your dog is normally used to a more relaxed pace of life - they may find it a bit much. Try to create some balance during your trip away, so not every day is filled to the brim with hiking, playing, BBQs, etc. Plan in some quiet time for the humans to relax with a good book and your dogs to be able to have a quality snooze!  

If you’re staying in a crowded campsite, it can be overwhelming even for the most social of dogs. You might want to consider some sort of visual barrier to put up around your pitch, so that your dog doesn’t have to see the comings and goings of everyone around them. 

Most importantly, this is a time to enjoy togetherness. Try to switch off and unplug from technology. Our dogs are great reminders to spend more time really living in the moment - and what better way to do that while away on adventures together.

 

Packing list for a happy dog:  

The essentials:  

🐾Collar and lead (plus name tag with mobile number)   

🐾Leads - both short and long leads are useful 

🐾Water for the trip, portable bowl (and water bottle for when you’re out)  

🐾Your dog’s regular food and bowl  

🐾Healthy dog treats  

🐾Spare towels for muddy paws  

🐾Poo bags  

🐾Stake and long line  

🐾Dog bed/ camping pad and blankets  

🐾Dog first aid kit   

🐾Travel crate or harness for the journey (and potentially tent)  

🐾Dog toys to keep them entertained and help them settle  

🐾Canine life jacket if getting in water  

🐾Tick remover (checking daily for ticks when away) 

🐾Reflective wear – either on a collar, a lead or a jacket can be useful when dark