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And don’t be fooled, you can’t simply rock up to any old site with a tent in tow and expect everything to fall into place.
If you and your dog are going to have a camping holiday to remember, you need to get organised:
1. Don’t presume you’re welcome
It might sound ridiculous, but make sure the campsite is dog-friendly before you pack up everything bar the kitchen sink and head out on the road.
Most sites welcome dogs, but it’s best to play it safe, so do your research beforehand. The last thing you want to do is pull up with your excited pup only to be turned away. Just imagine the devastated look on your dog’s face, let alone the rest of the family.
2. Find the right site
Just because a site says it’s dog friendly doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right fit for you and your pup. Check out the reviews. Is there plenty of space or are people crammed in? Is it likely to be noisy? What are the rules relating to dogs? Are there dog friendly pubs and cafes in the area? And what are the nearby walks like?
Also, many sites charge extra for dogs. It won’t be much, maybe a couple of pounds per night, but it’s something to consider.
3. Make a list, check it twice
Dogs may be (relatively) small but just like kids, they do not travel light. Before you head out on your trip, make sure you’ve covered all the essentials.
Items on the list should include a travel bed, water bottle and dog bowls (collapsible ones come in handy when you’re out during the day), plenty of doggy bags, a pup-focused first aid kit along with any specific medication, leads, more food than you think you’ll need, and some sturdy storage for it so your pup doesn’t get tempted to rummage.
Camping shouldn’t be an endurance test, unless that’s what you’ve signed up for, so don’t forget their favourite toys and a blanket as anything that smells like home could be a comfort in a strange new place.
4. Acclimatise your dog
We all know that feeling of excitement when you’ve just arrived on your hols and it’s no different for your dog, but all the sights, sounds and smells of a campsite can be overwhelming.
As soon as you can, give your pup the chance to get used to their surroundings by taking them for a walk on an extendable leash (don’t forget their collar too).
They can have a good sniff about, stretch their legs and no doubt go for a much-needed pee, and feel a lot more comfortable for it.
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5. Get yourself a ground stake
As much as you love your dog, try pitching a tent with them and that love will be tested to its limits. Whether they think they’re helping, or presuming it’s play time, your pup can be a hindrance when you’re trying to work out which pole goes where.
You can keep your dog in the car while you get the tent up, as long as it’s cool, but they shouldn’t have to miss out on all the fun, so look into getting a ground stake to keep your dog safe, secure and out of your hair while you crack on. It can also come in handy throughout the trip.
6. Keep a close eye on your pup
There might be rules on site which means your dog has to be kept on a leash at all times. Or it might be more relaxed, so your dog can roam free, if you and they are happy with that.
Just be mindful of your neighbours. You might adore that ball of fur, but other people might not feel the love.
Be aware your pup might try to go off on the quiet to scrounge for food from other campers with their puppy dog eyes, but you won’t know what or how much they’re eating. And don’t forget to keep your own food carefully packed.
One sniff of the sausages and you’ll have none left for the BBQ.
7. Sleeping arrangements
Cushing up with your dog in a small tent might sound lovely and cosy but the reality can be very different, especially if you’re camping for more than a few days. Everyone needs their space, including your dog, and it’s something to think about when you’re buying a tent.
Ideally, you’ll have space aside from the sleeping area where everyone can lounge out, especially if the weather takes a turn for the worse, and your dog might choose this spot to make themselves comfy.
Choose a bed that’s well-insulated and waterproof and don’t forget a carabiner clip, ideally an LED one, to fasten the tent zip closed and stop your dog making an escape in the middle of the night.
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