The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark + Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.
By Chelsea Pennington, Bark + Boarding Writer and Animal Enthusiast
Camping is one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors during summertime, and bringing along your furry friend makes it even better. Before you load up the tent and head off into the wilderness, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared so that everyone is safe and has fun.
Give Your Dog Time to Adjust
If your dog has never been camping with you before, help your dog prepare for anything new they might encounter. Set up your tent in the backyard and let your dog sniff and explore, giving them treats so that they associate it with good things. Use a flashlight or headlamp on an evening walk so your dog can get used to that as well.
Make Sure the Details Are in Order
Before you bring your dog camping, be sure to stop by the vet first to ensure your dog is healthy enough for camping. It’s also important that their ID tag or microchip has all the correct information, and that you bring any papers you’ll need to verify current vaccinations.
Find the Right Spot
While bringing your dog camping may seem like second nature, not all campsites allow dogs. Be sure to check online or call beforehand to make sure you’re prepared for any requirements your campground may have. Ensure the campsite has plenty of shade so your pup has places to cool off as dogs can overheat more easily than humans.
If you’re looking for pet-friendly camping spots in the DMV area, there are plenty to choose from. Cherry Hill Park offers 400 RV and tenting sites with restrooms, hot showers, plenty of hiking trails, a playground and a swimming pool. Greenbelt Campground has RV and tenting sites in a lovely wooded area, with a picnic table and fire ring.
The family owned and operated Take It Easy Campground offers campsites for RV and tents, and also has free wifi, a stocked fishing area and easy access to historic sites.
Pack Everything You’ll Need
This includes the obvious things like food, water and a leash, but be sure to bring supplies like poop bags that you might be more inclined to forget. It’s also a good idea to have a lead or tie-out so your dog can be secured while hanging out at your campsite.
Bringing along your dog’s crate or favorite toys can make your campsite feel more like home. Finally, pack more towels than you think you’ll need! You never know what kind of mess your dog might get into.
Be Ready For the Worst
Just in case your pet is injured, it’s helpful to have pet first aid knowledge. There are a variety of courses available to either refresh your skills or teach you the basics. Bring along a simple pet first aid kit with supplies like iodine for cleaning wounds, wax paw protector, tick remover, liquid bandages and even dog boots and tongue suppressors that can function as a splint in a pinch.
Don’t Become a Feeding Ground For Wildlife
Only bring out your dog’s food at meal times. Keeping kibble out around the clock is a signal to nearby critters that your campsite is a great spot to find food, and that’s definitely not a reputation you want to have!
Don’t Leave Your Dog Behind
Never leave your dog unattended at the campsite. Weather can change quickly, potentially causing your dog to be vulnerable to pouring rain or scorching heat. You also don’t want your dog to have any run-ins with wildlife without you there to intervene. If you can’t bring them with you on every activity leave them at home.
If they cannot go with you a reputable dog boarding facility is a great option for your pup to have their own adventure while you are away.
Figure Out Sleeping Arrangements Beforehand
Your dog shouldn’t be left outside the tent at night, as they might encounter some nocturnal creatures. Put them in their crate in the tent with you, or if you have a larger tent with several vestibules, giving them their own separate space works well. Of course, if it’s a chilly night, having them cozy up with you might be exactly what you want!
Don’t Forget About the Bugs
Bring along a pet-friendly insect repellant to protect your dog from any bites. Make sure your dog has been taking heartworm medicine, and that they are up to date on their flea and tick preventative. Whenever you come back from a hike, be sure to thoroughly check your dog for ticks so you can remove them quickly before they become too deeply lodged or infected.