Camping is arguably one of the most popular activities for those who love exploring the great outdoors. And if you are also a dog lover, then you certainly would want to take your pouch on the journey. But that is often easier said than done. In this guide, you will learn how you can get him prepped up to also enjoy the wilderness.
Is your dog really for the outdoors?
While you might be excited to take your beloved mutt out, he himself might not be up for it. Your dog’s breed is one of the biggest factors that can determine whether he likes the great outdoors or not. Hunting breeds like terriers and hounds are more inclined to outdoor exploration as they are bred for that purpose. On the other hand, you might have some problem with breeds like poodles and Shh Tzus as they are known to be more of homebodies. This does not mean though that you can’t get them up their feet.
Another thing that you have to consider is your dog’s particular demeanor. If he is the type that is easily excitable or easily distracted, then you have to be really careful with his first outdoor trip. Nature is full of stimulants that can overwhelm his senses, which will make it hard for you to reign him in.
Also, if your dog is a barker, this can be problematic when heading to nature preserves or public camping grounds. His constant barking can disturb nearby wildlife or other campers wanting to have some peace. The latter might even lead to some unwanted altercations.
You also have to consider the particular activities that you plan on doing on the trip. For instance, your dog might not be at ease with staying inside a tent with you. Or he might not be up for a lengthy trail walk. Whichever it is, it is essential that you consider which activities he would likely enjoy during the trip.
Getting your dog ready for the outdoors!
However, even with above concerns, you can still bring any dog to love camping trips. All you need to do is to train him for it. But, where should you begin?
1. Following commands
As your dog will likely become very excited during his first trip outdoors, you need to be able to get him to follow you without much struggle. This is where command training comes in handy. The following are the most common commands that your dog needs to be familiar with.
- Stop-get him to stop whatever he is doing
- Lay down-another way to get him to stop and stay in place
- Come-get him to move along
- Leave it-make him drop whatever is in his mouth
- Okay-let him continue what he is doing
Note that he might already be able to follow these commands if you did general command training before. Howe ever, it would still be a good idea to refresh him in the context of nature walks before you head out for the actual trip.
2. Controlling his behavior
As have been mentioned above, your dog going out of control with his behavior can cause you a lot of problems in the camp site. As such, you need to teach him to be in control of this.
Barking is the first thing you should have in check. Of course, all dogs are inclined to bark at any given times, but you will still be able to train him to keep quiet at the right time. One thing that you have to avoid when trying to control your dog’s barking is yelling for him to stop, as this can end up into a shouting (and barking) match between you and him, which can only make it worse. Instead, opt for gentler methods, like tugging on his leash or simply patting him to stop.
Coupled with his barking habits, you have to also get a hold of his aggressiveness. Again, this is often already included in your dog’s general behavior training. However, he really is the type that gets agitated with even the slightest provocation, it might be best for you to leave him out of the trip for now.
Another habit that you want in check is wandering, especially at night. Teach him to enter the tent when you are in it and stay there until told that he can come out. Also, you have to teach him not to bring in stuff from outside, be it some stray creature or things from neighboring campers. This might seem hard but can actually be done.
3. Getting him in shape
If your dog is a homebody who prefers to just lie on the couch all day, then he might not yet be up for the challenge. Just like the average person who don’t get enough exercises, your pooch will likely start huffing and puffing even if you have just started the trek.
To get him into shape, take him on regular short walks. This will help develop his stamina and also make him more comfortable with long walks. Here, you should start slowly, gradually increasing the distance you travel weekly.
Some nature enthusiasts also prefer to actually train their dogs when they are just puppies. A common rule of thumb here is to start with a 5-minute outdoor exercise twice a day during his first month. You then gradually add 5 more minutes for every month after. Hence, your dog will be doing 15 minutes of exercises twice a day during his third month, 20 in his fourth, and so on until he is fully grown.
You also have to address your dog’s diet. Since traveling long distance over rough terrain is likely going to take a lot of his energy, give him a lot of high-calorie foods to boost his reserves. However, don’t do it quickly, as a sudden change in diet might do him more harm.
4. Giving him a checkup
Even if your dog is in good shape, that does not mean that he is already safe from the elements. In particular, you have to watch out for the diseases that he might contract. Pay the vet a visit and have him checked up and vaccinated against diseases like rabies and distemper. It would also be a good idea to pack an ample first aid kit (more on that later.
It would also be a good idea to have your dog tagged so that he can be tracked in case he gets separated.