Summer Camping and Hiking Dos and Don’ts for Your Dog

Heading into the great outdoors with your dog?

Being prepared for the trip can help prevent headaches and ensure your pup’s safety. Here are six Dos and Don’ts to make the most of your next camping or hiking trip with Fido.

DO put together a special doggie first aid kit.

A cut, a scrape, a splinter; accidents happen. But when they happen on the go, in the middle of a hiking trip or when you’re out camping, you want to be ready for them.

Best thing you can do? Always bring along an emergency kit that contains antihistamines (check with your veterinarian about using them first) in case of stings or allergic reactions, plus tweezers to remove splinters or ticks, recommends Dr. Judy Morgan, DVM, a holistic veterinarian and certified and accredited herbal and food therapist. “Cotton balls to clean any scrapes or wounds, and witch hazel, which works well in most instances and will be soothing,” Morgan says.

And don’t forget anti-diarrhea supplements. “There are many natural products on the market or you can ask your veterinarian for something in case the dog does develop a problem,” says Morgan.

DON’T overtire your dog.

When it comes to exercise, not all dogs are the same. Working breeds such as Retrievers and Shepherds are more resilient and will happily hike with you for several hours. Other dogs—especially flat-faced breeds such as pugs—will be ready to take a long break after 30 minutes.

Senior dogs who might have joint or muscle issues should not be over-exercised either. And if you see your dog breathing too heavy, insisting on laying down in the middle of the walk, or simply lagging behind constantly, it might be time for a break.

DO focus on training.

Trails and campgrounds offer lots of distractions, so it’s important that you practice a few things with your dog before you take off. The two most important things? Recall (coming when called) and “Leave it!”

Joan Hunter Mayer, a certified professional dog trainer and the owner of The Inquisitive Canine, says she uses the “Leave it!” call when she wants her dogs to stop what they’re doing and come to her immediately. “Usually when they are in danger or they might cause harm to something else,” says Hunter Mayer. “Of course they get rewarded with treats and tons of love for following through,”

DON’T let your dog roam free.

While off leash walking might be OK on the trail, it’s important to not leave dogs free to roam, especially when you set up camp. “We take an exercise pen that we can set up, along with a towel or something to put on the ground to keep them clean instead of lying in the dirt,” says Morgan.

DO bring along a dog kit with all the essentials.

You wouldn’t go camping without a tent and a sleeping bag, right? Well, your dog also needs his own equipment to make sure the trip is comfy and safe.

“Bring along the dog’s comforts from home: bed, water, food (stored in camping-friendly container), treats, collar and leash, harness if using,” says Joan Hunter Mayer. “A life vest if going out on the water in a boat, bowls for water and food—or something that can be used as bowls (plastic containers).”

Unless you’re going to have easy access to a store, Morgan recommends also bringing water from home or bottled water. “That way they will be less likely to drink out of streams or puddles that may be contaminated,” Morgan says.

And don’t forget poop bags to clean up after your pets; waterless shampoo or wipes for clean ups; and a brush to remove leaves or burrs that might get caught in the coat, says Morgan. “We personally have wimpy dogs, so we also take raincoats and sweaters in case it gets cold,” she adds.

Meet the Author: Diana Bocco

Diana Bocco is a full-time writer and avid adventurer. She's gone hiking in Siberia, snorkeling in Thailand, and canoeing in the Mekong River. She also loves caves and has been known to get lost in one or five around the world. Diana's work has been published in the Discovery Channel website, Yahoo!, Popular Mechanics, and more. You can read more of her work on her website at

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