If you go camping, do take your dog. Dogs are easy campers for the following reasons:
* Dogs sleep when they’re tired. They do not need soft beds or clean sheets. Follow their example.
* Dogs are vigilant. If they’re sleeping soundly in the dark in the middle of nowhere, you can be sure you should too. Shut your eyes. The dog will bark if there’s anything to pay attention to.
* Dogs like to pee in the woods. Let them. Imitate them.
* Dogs are happy when dirty. You be happy too.
Some things to be careful about:
Water: Drinking from a puddle of standing water can transmit Leptospirosis to your dog. I continue to recommend the water purifier noted on the Tips page. Yes, wild animals do drink from puddles and stagnant pools, but wild animals have short life spans. Don’t let your dog drink any water you wouldn’t drink yourself.
Food: Bring your food; bring your pet’s food. (In bear country, sleep far from your food and trash.)
Leash: As noted in a previous post- and as guest blogger Sean Christensen noted- a leash protects your dog from discovering a bear or a rattle snake or a mountain lion or another dog that is not friendly while on the trail. Personally, I hate the idea of pets hiking with a leash, but the leash could save your dog from a very bad encounter. Yes, wild animals don’t have leashes. But you aren’t responsible for them, are you?
Mosquitoes: Diseases mosquitoes carry can be dangerous and mosquitoes do bite dogs. Repellent patches are useful. There are various herbal potions made for dogs to repel insects. The ones containing pennyroyal should be avoided generally. In camp, smoke from your fire or even smoke from incense keeps them away. Only camp near water that is flowing strongly, other wise camp well above the bank of the stream.
Tents: Does your dog sleep in the house at home? Then don’t even imagine not letting him in the tent. (Of course he’s smelly. It’s your fault and so are you. Go with it.)
Light stick locators: Buy some 12 hour light sticks and attach one to your dog’s harness as dusk descends or if he leaves the tent in the night for a bush break. Should he wander off, you will see the light. Of course this should never happen… but it could, couldn’t it?
Meds: Take a human-canine medical kit. Naturally. Dew claws and toe nails can get torn on the trail. This happens to wolves all the time. They have no med kit, poor things.
Expectations: Let’s be realistic. A dog, unlike a person, will be himself in all situations. Dogs have very stable personalities. So, even if you suddenly decide to channel Lewis or Clark, your Couch Potato, Miss Prissy Foot, Random Runner or Scardy Dog will not turn into White Fang. You be yourself and let pup be himself and enjoy discovering the wild woods together.