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Subject: rec.pets.dogs: Canine Activities: Camping with Your Dog FAQ

This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:23:10 GMT

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/activities/camping URL: http://www.coyotecom.com/dogcamp.html
Last-modified: 27 May 1997 ======= There are nearly 100 FAQ's available for this group. For a complete listing of these, get the "Complete List of RPD FAQs". This article is posted bimonthly in rec.pets.dogs, and is available via anonymous ftp to rtfm.mit.edu under pub/usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/faq-list, via the Web at http://www.zmall.com/pet_talk/dog-faqs/lists/faq-list.html, or via email by sending your message to mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu with send usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/faq-list in the body of the message. This article is Copyright 1996 by the Author(s) listed below. It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without alteration provided that this copyright notice is not removed. It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other than the URL listed above without the permission of the Author(s). This article may not be sold for profit nor incorporated in other documents without he Author(s)'s permission and is provided "as is" without express or implied warranty. ========== Posted November 25, 1996 Revised with new information as of April 1, 1997 Please carefully read the disclaimer at the end of this document. In addition to my own experiences camping with my two dogs, this page uses material from the excellent Web site Hiking/Backpacking with Canines, authored and maintained by Terri Watson. I have prepared this page as a companion piece to hers. _________________________________________________________________ Camping with Your Dog(s) Camping with a canine companion can be a joyous experience for both owner and dog. Just as with hiking, dogs can "point out" interesting features or animals that their people might otherwise overlook. And a dog is thrilled at the new smells and sites of a camp site. Unlike hiking with your dog, your dog does not have to be in the best physical shape to go camping with you, and you can take more supplies with you in your vehicle than you can when hiking. Table of Contents * Who Can Participate? * Preparations * Equipment * Where to Camp? * Heat Exhaustion or Stroke * Scoop It or Else * Winter parking lot danger * Be Nice and Help Us All Out * Other Resources _________________________________________________________________ Who Can Participate? Most people who can go camping without a dog can go camping with one. The additional constraints are that you must be (1) physically able to restrain your dog (or dogs) in the presence of distractions, such deer, squirrels, and rabbits, and (2) responsible enough to prevent the dog from being a nuisance to other campers or animals. This includes picking up after your pet -- many a campsite is made disgusting because of inconsiderate dog owners. If you are going to camp with a dog (or dogs), it is important that the dog(s) is(are) well-behaved around other people (both adults and children) and animals. Camping is a relaxing time - fellow campers may have just finished a long day of hiking or driving. While a campsite may be lively during the day, once night falls, it's time to settle down. Your dog will need to understand when playtime is over, and how to be quiet (no barking!). If your dog has never been to dog school, it's never too late to start. The cost is minimal and it will make you a better, more responsive dog owner, as well as a better camper with a dog. On her Hiking/Backpacking with Canines page, Terri Watson makes this excellent point: "Good canine manners will go a long way towards creating good will and increased tolerance of canine presence. Know your dog. Be aware of what situations may make him act strangely or provoke an aggressive or defensive reaction. Then prevent these situations or, if unavoidable, be prepared to deal appropriately with them. You should never take a dog out on the trail if you feel there is any chance of someone being injured by him." _Dog-Aggressive Dogs_ I have a lovely Australian shepherd mix, Wiley, as well as a cuddly Beagle/Basset Hound mix, Buster. Both dogs have great affection for people, particularly children, but Wiley hates most dogs with a passion, and will usually attack another dog upon sight. It's not easy camping with such a dog, but it can be done, through a great deal of caution, sensitivity to surroundings and responsibility on the part of the owner. I'll have notes throughout this guide on how I do it. If you have a dog-aggressive dog and don't think you can do all of the precautions I mention, I strongly urge you NOT to go camping with your dog. _________________________________________________________________ Preparations * _Vaccinations and License_ It is of absolute importance that your dog's vaccinations be up-to-date, as dogs often encounter unvaccinated animals while camping. Dog licenses should also be current. Also ask your vet about the areas where you will be camping, as some carry additional health risks for dogs and may warrant additional precautions. For instance, when I went across country with my dogs in May 1996, from California to North Carolina and back, I informed my vet of my travel plans, and he switched my dogs to a stronger heartworm medication for the trip. * _Physical Demands_ While camping with your dog is not nearly as physically-demanding as hiking, for many dogs, camping will mean some increase in physical activity, however slight; there will be more opportunities for walking, running and exploring than are usually found in their day-to-day routine, and the terrain may be a little more challenging. A visit to the veterinarian to evaluate general health is a good idea before your dog camps for the first time. See the appropriate section on Hiking/Backpacking with Canines page for more information on evaluating your dog's physical shape. * _Training_ No matter how well-behaved you think your dog is, it is both impolite and dangerous to other campers not to have your dog somehow restrained at all times. Your friendly, unleashed dog could wander into a campsite where there is a dog-aggressive dog (like mine), or a dog-aggressive person (yes, there are such people), and the results can be disastrous and even deadly. Don't chance it -- keep your dog leashed. * _Notify a Friend, and Sometimes, a Ranger_ This isn't a tip for camping with your dog -- it's a tip for camping in general, and it's too important to exclude from this tip sheet: let someone know what your travel plans are. If you are entering BLM land (Bureau of Land Management Land) to camp, it's also a good idea to let the nearest ranger station know you are going in, particularly if you are alone. You may be more at risk for adverse encounters with wildlife or people when you're on your own. A cellular phone can provide some measure of security, but don't rely on it; coverage is not the best in many areas and technology is never perfect (batteries die, phones get dropped and break, etc.). Also make arrangements to check in with a friend upon your return, and let them know when that is supposed to happen; the check-in is essential because, if you often forget to check back with them when you get home, then when you're really in trouble it may take an extra day for them to realize that there's a problem and notify searchers. _________________________________________________________________ Equipment * _Dog identification tags_ The s-hook-style attachments on collars for tags often fail. Use a small keyring to hold tags instead. There are also collars that allow tags to be fastened flat against the collar. In addition, consider having a data chip implanted in your dog; many veterinarians and animal shelters, even in rural areas, have scanners that will pick up this chip. The chip provides identification for the dog, as well as license and vaccination information. There are different brands of microchips that require different scanners (readers), so make sure that the shelters in your area have scanners for the chip you are going to have implanted. I got both my dogs "microchiped", then moved to a new city and got a new vet who used a different microchip; she used her brand of scanner to see if my chip would show up; it did, although not all of the information was readable. Still, as she pointed out, a shelter or vet with a scanner would at least know if the dog was owned by someone, even if the chip information wasn't readable. I don't recommend tattoos, as they are often hard (if not impossible) to find on the dog, and hard to interpret once they are found. * _leash_ Be certain before setting out that you have a leash, snap, collar and buckle in good condition and will not break if the dog suddenly lunges. Carrying an additional collar and leash is a good idea in case of loss or breakage. I bring two leashes per dog -- one style is a tough, thick leather leash, used when any other dogs are around, because it's the only kind strong enough to retain my dog-aggressive Australian Shepherd in such scenarios; the other style is the retractable kind, which is an excellent leash for when there are no other dogs around, and my dogs want to explore more freely. * _tether_ Using the leather leash and a specially-designed tether that fastens around a tree, a picnic table leg, my truck's back tire, etc., I can create a really long restraint that allows my dogs total freedom within our campsite. If you have two dogs,tether them far apart -- just close enough so that they can be side-by-side only at the end of both restraints -- otherwise, dog tangles occur. * _harness (for the seatbelt)_ You may be a wonderful driver, but many people aren't. Plus, driving on poor and/or curvy roads can send your dog all over the insides of the car, if not through the windshield. I put my dogs each in a dog body harness, then run a seatbelt through the harness. They can sit or laydown, and are quite comfortable, but can't be thrown around the car. It also keeps them in the back seat, which is the coolest place in the truck, when I have to run into a store or something. If you have a truck with a bed and don't allow your dog in the cab (which, in my opinion, is ridiculous, but if you insist...), please purchase a dog carrier and put your dog in it (the carrier should offer your dog just enough room to stand up and turn around in, but no more). Dogs die from falling or jumping out of the bed of a truck, from being thrown against the cab during a sudden stop; even leashing them to something in the bed of the truck is no protection, as dogs have also hung themselves while trying to jump out. A dog carrier is the only humane way to travel with your dog in the the bed of your truck. Padding the floor, ceiling and sides offers even better protection. * _bedding_ When the weather is cold, bedding (a blanket, an air mattress, etc.) will keep your dog off the cold ground. For my dogs, bringing their beds along is as much behavioral support as comfort; they believe that wherever their beds are, that's home. I put their beds in the back seat for the ride, and they are content for the whole drive. The first time they slept in a tent, I put the beds in there, and they relaxed in the "strange" surrounding quickly. * _cold protection_ My Australian Shepherd, Wiley, with his long, thick hair, loves the cold; my Beagle/Basset Hound, Buster, does not. If your dog has thin or short hair, outfit him or her in a dog sweater (yeah, I hate 'em too, 'cause they make your dog look like a wuss). If your dog is shivering, he's either in pain or he's cold or both! When sleeping in the tent in cold weather, I also throw my coat completely over Buster, including over his head (since I'm in a sleeping bag, I don't need it); within just a few minutes, he's created a body oven, and because the coat is so big, he can stand up and change positions without losing his cover. Bedding also keeps your dog off the cold ground (see above). Give your dogs additional insulation by letting them curl up against you. One poster to a dog hiking discussion group (see below) noted that she sprays her dogs' feet and tummies lightly with Pam for short jaunts through snow; this prevents them from picking up snowballs in their fur, then licking and pulling snowballs for hours. If it's below 30 degrees, I think it's too cold for Buster and, therefore, we sleep in the truck or, if it's really, really too cold, in a motel. * _booties_ Depending on the type of terrain and the dog's tendency to tear footpads, or if there is going to be ice on the ground at the campsite, consider buying some booties to protect your dog's feet. Hiking/Backpacking with Canines goes into great detail about what to look for in booties. * _food and water _ Clean drinking water is a must for both you and your dog. Although natural water sources may be plentiful near a campsite, the water may be contaminated with giardia (a protozoan parasite), or harmful bacteria or chemicals. In areas where giardia is a problem you should not allow your dog to drink from streams or lakes (call the nearest park ranger station to find out the condition of streams and lakes). When camping, I carry a 10 gallon plastic container of water. When desert camping, the 10 gallon container is our only water source, and it's also an excellent backup should the truck break down far from a water source. I also carry two one-gallon jugs of water -- one for the dogs, and one for me (I carry one for the dogs because they like to lick the opening while the water is coming out into their bowls). The dogs get water at EVERY stop we make (getting gas, rest area, wherever); riding in the truck seems to really dry them out. Don't be fooled by cold weather. Adequate fluid levels are essential for heat maintenance in both temperature extremes. Drink plenty of water and encourage your dog to do the same. * _Dog Food_ I take two-extra days of dog meals, just in case. Whatever you use for food storage, it should be sturdy and water proof. * _Towel_ Even if you don't think you are going to be anywhere near water, bring an extra towel just for the dog(s). You won't regret it. * _First Aid Kit_ Your dog does not face near the risk of injury or death just camping with you rather than hiking/backpacking with you... but the risk is there, none-the-less. Buy a standard First Aid Kit, then enhance it with extra items just for the dogs (extra bandages, extra swabs, etc.). Become familiar with the items in your First Aid Kit and what they are used for. If your dog becomes injured, do what you can to make your dog comfortable and get to a vet FAST. Your goal when giving a dog First Aid is to stop bleeding, prevent further injury, and to calm the dog enough so that you can transport the dog to a vet. Medicating your dog is very difficult -- a dog is not a human; his or her system will often NOT react the same way to medication as a human's. Your dog's weight is also a tremendous factor when considering dosage. I do not suggest you try to medicate a dog except in the most extreme circumstances. These are some of the suggestions regarding first aid kits made to the Dog-Hike list run by Terri Watson (also the author of Hiking/Backpacking with Canines. Taking all of these items, however, might not leave no room in your vehicle for your dogs! How far away from a town with a vet will you be when you camp? Consider that when trying to judge what of the following you need to add to your First Aid kit: Cheryl Kubart, kuba9041@uidaho.edu, a backcountry EMT, suggests adding these items (to add the doggy stuff, look in your Pet catalogs or ask your vet): + Aleeve- Malox coated aspirn (don't give regular asprin to a dog, except by doctor's suggestion) + VetWrap- sticks to fur better without pulling out hair + Kwik Stop or septic powder + Small nail scissors + Ear and eye oitment- in 1/8 oz tubs (a little Ottomax and Terramycin) + Maybe some skin glue if you feel confident enough to close SMALL wounds + Good tick tweezers and maybe Tick Release + Hemostats are great, as are needle nose pliers and lighter Razorblade to shave hair from an injured area + Butterfly bandages- wound closure strips + Waterproof surgical tape + Sam splints + Secta-soothe + Mole skin irragation needle (to flush eyes and wounds trauma dressing and 4 x 4 bandages) + Snake bite (although Cheryl warns, "if your dog gets bit by a ratteler and you are way out, give him plenty of love and affection because no one is going to Medflight your dog out of the wilderness, unless it is a certified SAR dog. Sad but true. Cheryl suggests staying away from the suturing and/or gluing if all possible. "Closing a dirty wound is a good way to get gangrene. The wound will have to be reopened for the vet to clean it out and you also have 24 hours to stitch. Shave some fur, clean well, and use butterfly strips." She adds "one more thing to remember- dogs can indure a lot more pain then we can - or for that matter than we can watch them go through." Other suggestions: + Blood stop powder + Tube of triple antibiotic (works great for plugging puncture wound) + kotex (to absorb blood and act as a dressing) + suture packets (sufficient to do the job, the sutures can be taken out later at the vet) + bandana Enclose items in a ziplock bag to prevent immersion. Backcountry EMT courses also teach how to improvise things in the field, such as duct tape if you have no Vet Wrap. * _Muzzle_ I carry a strong, cloth muzzle for Wiley, my Australian Shepherd, the dog-aggressive-dog. It allows him to open his mouth only enough to drink or have a dog treat. You shouldn't only muzzle your dog in the presence of other dogs, because it conditions your dog to begin to worry as soon as you put the muzzle on. Instead, put the muzzle on whenever you leash your dog; then the muzzle means he's going for a walk -- always a good thing in a dog's mind. * _Large Empty Plastic Soda Bottle_ Yes, you read right -- an empty plastic soda bottle (2 liters). Take this bottle and hit yourself in the head with it. Didn't hurt, but made a terrible noise, right? This is my tool to stop dog fights -- my dog trainer recommends it. Taking plenty of precautions against dog encounters, I haven't had to use it in over a year, but, as the owner of a dog-aggressive-dog, I always have it around. Even if you don't have a dog-aggressive-dog, you could encounter one. You can also carry a can of Halt!, a mild pepper-spray, the same stuff many letter-carriers have on their belts. It can be bought for under $10 in many cycling stores. Halt! has no lasting effects and can be washed out of the dog's eyes with water. Halt! has a range of only 15' or so, and if there's a wind blowing, you or your dog can get a "back-blast" from it if you're not careful. * _Other items_ Dog comb and brush, dog toys, dog treats, and extra bags for doggie-cleanup * _Vehicle Heating and Cooling Systems_ If you are going to be driving through intense heat or cold, your dogs will need the protection your vehicle can provide. For my dogs, heat is the worst of the two extremes (they are both around more than eight years old, and I always worry about heat exhaustion or heat stroke) so I make sure my air-conditioner is in good working order before we take off on our trip. _________________________________________________________________ Where to Camp? Unfortunately, uncontrolled dogs and irresponsible pet owners have contributed to the closing of some campsites to dogs, and sometimes hostile reactions by fellow campers when they see you have dogs with you. Always ask at the camp station if dogs are allowed in the campsite, and respect whatever rules the station has regarding dogs. Camping guidebooks usually also list dog information. Remember: your behavior with your dogs effects all camping for dog owners! I don't do much hiking with my dogs -- short walks around our campsites and various stops along the way are sufficient for us. But you might want to choose campsites in areas where you can really hike with your dog. Remember that dogs are not allowed on National Park or National Monument trails. On-leash dogs are permitted on or near the paved, developed areas, but that's all. National Forests often allow dogs on their trails, but there are exceptions, so check first. Dogs are usually allowed on wilderness area trails, but again, check to be sure. Hiking/Backpacking with Canines has a great deal of information on this subject. I love camping on Bureau of Land Management land, because there's usually no one else around. However, your chance of wildlife encounters increase, so be extra cautious of such. Having a dog-aggressive-dog, I make sure I leave myself plenty of daylight to find a campsite, allowing for the possibility of having to move later (either because of the dog or because the guy in the adjacent campsite has an RV with a generator running all night). If you have a dog-aggressive-dog, it is your obligation to keep the dog well away from other dogs. If you have to camp near other campers with a dog, don't hesitate to let them know, in the most friendly but firmest way possible, that you have a dog-aggressive-dog, and that while you will have this dog restrained at all times, they will need to do the same. Most people will respect this; if you encounter someone who is unfriendly or confrontational, move; reason won't work, and it's not worth it to try with such people. _________________________________________________________________ Heat Exhaustion or Stroke Heat stroke is a life threatening condition for your dog (hey, and for you too) and you should be able to recognize the warning signs and know how to prevent it. Even on a cooler day, if it is very sunny, and your dog is working hard or is a dark-coated breed, they can get overheated. It can be as big a threat to a dog while camping as disease or animal attack. Watch your dog for signs of heat exhaustion or stroke. Particularly, unusually rapid panting, and/or a bright red tongue or mucous membranes. The dog's primary mechanism for cooling off is through panting. Since this cooling process uses evaporation the dog will require more water when he is panting heavily. Shorter-nosed breeds (eg, Bulldogs, Pugs) may have a less efficient heat exchange rate, so should be watched especially closely. Check with your vet for the best ways to cool down an overheated dog. There are also excellent suggestions on the Hiking/Backpacking with Canines page. _________________________________________________________________ Scoop It or Else Always pick up after your dog in a campsite -- dog waste is not the same as other animal waste, even that of wolves or coyotes. It is bad for the environment, particularly near water sources, and most bothersome to other campers. _________________________________________________________________ Winter parking lot danger John Conrard, jxconrard@rocket.com, cautions: When going on winter hikes with your dog, keep a keen eye out for puddles of Antifreeze in the parking area that your dog could get into. There is a habit for some people to top off there antifreeze in the sno parks and spill, or have there car boil over leaving deadly puddles of antifreeze. All it takes is little bit, not even a table spoon. A musher in our club lost two dogs to this scenario last year. Even if your dog takes a lick and shows no immediate signs of problems TAKE THEM TO THE VET!! _________________________________________________________________ Be Nice and Help Us All Out Be friendly and courteous to other people in the campsite. Responsible, educated dog owners that bring their pets with them camping leave a positive impression on others, making it easier for the dog owners who follow you. _________________________________________________________________ Other Resources Please see Hiking/Backpacking with Canines, http://snapple.cs.washington.edu/canine/backpacking/ for outstanding information on hiking with a dog, as well as information on clubs that organize canine hiking outings, and additional reading. Members of the _rec.pets.dogs newsgroups_ compile and maintain an excellent FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions and their answers) that cover selecting a dog, choosing a dog or puppy, health care issues, canine medication information (including canine epilepsy and genetic diseases), training, behavior, discipline, and canine clubs. This FAQ is also available via the rec.pets.dogs.info newsgroup (only the FAQs are posted to this newsgroup; you can read, but not post to, this newsgroup). A great place to purchase hiking gear for dogs, as well as other equipment, is: http://www.wolfpacks.com/catalog/ _________________________________________________________________ _Disclaimer _ Hiking, camping and backpacking are potentially dangerous activities. The author of this document is not an instructor or an authority in any of these areas, or in veterinary science, or in the area of dog training in general. You are responsible for the health, welfare and actions of your canine companion. This document is the author's attempt to pass on information she wished she had had before she camped with her dogs the first time. The information is gathered from her personal experience as well as items heard from others, not all of which has she experienced firsthand. In other words, some of the content in this document is strictly hearsay. You should always check with your veterinarian and/or other experts when you are beyond your own area of expertise. The author assumes no responsibility for the use of information contained within this document. _________________________________________________________________ _Acknowledgements _ Thanks to Terri Watson elf@cs.washington.edu, author of Hiking/Backpacking with Canines, http://snapple.cs.washington.edu/canine/backpacking/. This page was prepared as a companion page to her document. Thanks also to everyone who contributed information. This information is always subject to change, per new experiences and suggestions. Please send suggestions to: jcravens@coyotecom.com