People know that rather than going on a cruise or staying at an overpriced hotel, camping is one of the most affordable and enjoyable vacation options, but did you know that you can bring your pets along too? Going camping doesn’t mean you have to leave your pet behind, in fact, you can take them with you! More and more campgrounds are accepting pets and offering on-site pet amenities, so more pets than ever can be included on camping trips. There is no experience like camping with a pet, so long as you prepare and plan ahead of course!
Here are some helpful tips from camping expert Sylvia Leggett on how to make your next camping trip stress-free, flee free and worthy to bark about!
Sylvia Leggett, who owns Roberts Knoll Campground in Alton, New Hampshire and is a member of the New Hampshire Campground Owners’ Association Board of Directors, has been camping with her golden retrievers for many years and have some great advice for pet owners who are interested in camping with their pets.
Only friendly, non-aggressive dogs should be brought to campgrounds, especially during busy times when there will be lots of people, activity and other dogs. While some campgrounds now have on-site kennel services, including Chocorua Camping Village, more aggressive animals should be brought to nearby off-site doggy daycare facilities with professionals trained to handle them.
Dogs aren’t the only pets campers bring along, campers have been seen to bring birds and cats, though extra caution should be taken to make sure they don’t get lost while camping.
When camping with a pet for the first time, Leggett recommends planning a shorter trip so the animal can get used to being away from home. That way, the trip can be ended early if needed. “Stay close to home the first time,” she said. “You will also need to be much more attentive to the animal.”
There are several resources available to pet owners looking to camp with their pets. Leggett recommends Dogfriendly.com, which lists campgrounds and RV parks that allow pets, and Dogpark.com, which includes listings of dog parks.
The N.H. Loves Campers Guide, published by the N.H. Campground Owners’ Association, also lists New Hampshire locations where leashed pets are welcome. When making a reservation, it’s a good idea to mention pets are part of your group. Some campgrounds can offer a campsite further away from busy areas, which may be more comfortable for some pets. Other campgrounds have a restriction on the number of pets allowed per campsite, which is helpful information for pet owners looking to bring more than one animal along.
Many campgrounds require proof of vaccines against rabies and Bordetella, a type of bacteria, though calling the campground ahead of time to confirm is suggested. Leggett recommends copying vet records with proof of all current vaccines and making sure licenses and contact information are included on pets’ collars. While all of her dogs are micro chipped, Leggett also has her phone number embroidered into her dogs’ collars in the event that they ever became separated. Researching veterinarians and emergency services near campgrounds can add extra peace of mind in the event of an emergency.
When it comes to packing for pets, in addition to vet records, its important to remember food and water dishes, an extra collar and leash, medicines or supplements, brushes, tie outs, shampoo, and something from home, like a toy or blanket. If a dog is comfortable sleeping in a crate at home, that should be brought along too. Small dog owners may also consider a pen their dog can stay in while they are at their campsite. Whatever a pet is used to in its daily routine at home should be packed as needed to keep it safe and comfortable during the duration of the camping trip.
After settling into a camp or RV site with pets, it is important to be a responsible camper and pet owner. This includes cleaning up after pets, keeping them leashed and making sure they stay out of prohibited areas. While many places do not allow pets in the pool or in public beach areas, some have dog parks where they can run and play off leash, canine-friendly swimming areas and dog-friendly wash areas.
Leggett’s own campground includes a dog park, where owners coordinate “doggy play dates” and take their pets to a designated wash area if they get dirty. Some campgrounds also have access to walking or hiking trails where it may be safe to let dogs off leash at the discretion of the owner.
Chocorua Camping Village has had a dog park for about 10 years now, but an AKC agility course was added about four years ago. The course contains a series of obstacles that anyone can use. In addition, there is a dog pond where dogs can swim and play fetch off leash, a dog wash station and access to five miles of walking trails. Pet themed events are held at the campground during the summer to include a pet parade. Chocorua Camping Village also has eight day-kennels staffed with an attendant so owners can go on day trips without worrying about their pets. Upon owner approval, the pets are socialized and exercised during the day at the dog park.
While not all campgrounds offer on-site boarding, most can suggest a nearby kennel. Pets shouldn’t be left alone – either in a tent, camper or tied up outside – while owners are away, as they can bark, disturb other campers or injure themselves by getting tangled. Temperature is another factor for pets, as leaving them in a hot vehicle can be deadly. When in doubt, do not leave pets unsupervised in an unfamiliar environment, as pets may act differently than they do at home.
As other places add pet-friendly amenities, it is getting more convenient for pet owners to bring their pets along. Many campgrounds can offer suggestions on places to visit with pets, from nearby hiking or walking trails to stores. Chocorua Camping Village directs pet owners to Four Your Paws Only, a nearby shop in North Conway that offers dogs a special treat when they visit and owners a discount on their purchases.
The New Hampshire Campground Owners’ Association publishes a very helpful guide which lists pet friendly campgrounds. More information is available at http://www.ucampnh.com/. If you plan ahead and are prepared, camping can be a rewarding, memorable experience for both owners and pets!