Tips for Camping with Your Dog

I get a lot of questions about what I pack for Arlo when we are going camping or backpacking.  There's the obvious items like food and water, but I've learned there is actually a lot more to it than that!  You have to make sure your pet is warm, safe, and protected and here are a few tips to make that happen.

1. Food/Meal Bars/Treats

I would say one of the most important item to remember would be your dogs food as well as meal substitutes and supplements.

You want to bring your dogs regular food since you don't want him having stomach issues while you're trying to enjoy your getaway! Bringing his usual food will make the transition easy from home to tent - I feed Arlo Taste of the Wild and you can find it here.  It's a great grain-free specialty food that he enjoys. I also love this product called TurboPup.  Turbo Pup Bars are a meal replacement bar that is SUPER handy for hiking or backpacking.  When we are really active and on an all day hike Arlo gets hungry (just like we do) so when we stop to have a snack and re-fuel this is the perfect thing to give to Arlo.  It's definitely more of a full meal than a treat so it helps him to re-energize quickly.  I also like bringing treats on our trip to reward good behavior and keep up his training.  My favorite treats are Sojos Simply Wild.  It's only 1 ingredient - meat! 

2. LED Collar Light

I find this tip to be SO handy every time we are out camping or backpacking.  It is super simple, but it makes my life so much easier and much less stressful.  When you're in the woods and it is pitch black its really hard to see your dog unless they're right by your side.  We don't keep Arlo on a leash so he will go off and explore a smell or sound and I want to be able to keep an eye on him at all times, so I put a little LED Light on his collar! You can see Arlo wearing his in the picture below: 

This way, I know where he is even when he wanders away from the fire.  You can also get a light-up collar or just attach a glow stick to your dog, but I find this one to be cheap, easy, and handy.

3. Bed / Blankets / Sweater 

It gets cold when you camp.  Depending on the season it can be super chilly at night and you need to come prepared for yourself and also for your dog.  Yes, our dogs have a nice coat that keeps them warm in cold weather, but depending on how cold it is going to get that fur coat will only protect them so much.  You need to make sure to bring lots of extra blankets for your pup and I even have a sweater for Arlo if it gets super chilly.  I also like to bring his bed or an extra chair to put next to the campfire that he can lay on.  With his bed, his sweater, and extra blankets that I pile on top of him he is warm and comfortable.  If he gets cold he will try to jump up on my lap or get into the car...dogs are smart and they will try to seek shelter if they get too cold.

4. Backpack / Dog Boots / Fuurstaid Kit

When you are backpacking and every little ounce counts its important that you get a backpack for your dog and make them carry some of their own essentials! We don't usually bring one when we are just car camping, but its a great way to lighten your load a little when doing long day hikes or multi day backpacking trips. We like THIS pack and have gotten great use out of a lot of the Ruffwear products. Also, don't forget to always keep a first aid kit in their packs! Same goes for dog boots...when you are going long distance hiking your dogs feet get tired and having a little protection can make it a lot easier for them.  It's also good to put these boots on your dog when they are in the snow! The salt from clearing snow can really irritate your dogs paws and it's not good to have them walking on that all winter.  Boots are never their favorite thing to wear, but sometimes mama knows best.  We like THESE boots. 

5. Rattlesnake Vaccine, Ear Cleaning and Tick Check    

So, these tip's aren't all that fun, but it's important all the same.  Did you know you can get a rattlesnake vaccine at your vet? The vaccine takes a few days to kick in so you have to plan ahead on this one, but its really important when taking your pup to places that could have snakes! Southern California has a lot because its dry and hot - just the way they like it - so we have seen a few even just on our local hikes.  The chances of your pup getting bit by a snake are EXTREMELY low so don't worry about it too much, but it's always good to be prepared! If you're camping in a place with water and your dog happens to go swimming or get wet make sure you dry your dogs ears (especially if they are floppy ears like Arlo's) and make sure to clean their ears when you return home.  Ear infections are VERY common in dogs and it doesn't take much for it to get really bad.  You always want to make sure their ears are dry and clean so no bacteria has time to grow and infect the ear. Another thing you should always do when coming home from your trip is check for ticks.  Your dog should be on a flea and tick preventative, but just in case one got through its important to check before a tick has time to transmit any diseases.   

These are just a couple ways to feel more prepared when taking your dog out adventuring! We love our animals and we want them safe and happy to keep trekking and if you follow these tips your trip is much more likely to run smoothly.  Am I missing anything? Let me know some of your tips and ticks for camping with your pup!

How to Plan a Camping Trip

I've been getting a lot of questions about how I plan for a camping trip so i decided to lay it all down for you! It takes practice to really know what you're going to need, but i've learned a lot of tips and tricks over the years that I'm sure will be helpful! 

1. Book Site / Talk to the local Ranger 

I'd say the most important first step would be to choose your destination...duh.  You can go anywhere! There are so many amazing marked and dispersed campsites to adventure to.  I love dispersed camping because its a much more secluded experience but, if you're new to camping theres some pretty special campsites out there that even have toilets and running water! You don't have to be Mrs. Rugged in order to go camping, but you do need an open mind and not afraid to get dirty! Once I've found a spot I ALWAYS call the ranger station to make sure there aren't any closures or other information I need to know about before heading up the mountain.  This is an important step because I often get word that sites have been temporarily closed due to excess rain or fires.  Calling always insures you won't run into any surprises once you're there! 

With more popular sites you sometimes have the option to book your site online.  This isn't always the case and most are first come first serve, but if you're going to any National Parks or Forests you'll usually have to book your site weeks if not months in advance to make sure you get a spot.  If you're looking for group camp sites this is usually the case as well. 

2. Make Lists! 

I make a lottttt of lists when planning a camping trip.  I make gear lists, toiletry lists, food lists, and even backpack lists.  This is the ONLY way not to forget anything and I usually start making these a couple weeks out or use old lists from past trips to remind myself of important items.  There's always a lot of moving parts when trying to get ready for a camping trip and lists are kind of the only way to keep things organized.  Otherwise, you get to the wilderness and you have no cups and no sunscreen!! 

3. Plan your Meals

You're definitely going to want to plan your meals ahead of time.  This way you can get exactly what you need, but it also prevents you from buying too much.  We've gone on trips where we've just gone to the grocery store before leaving town and ended up with way way way too much food.  Eating on your camping trip is one of the best parts (food never tastes better), but it makes it a lot easier when you've decided on a menu.  If you're camping with a group you can divide the items to buy and then you'll have the perfect amount and no repeat items! There's a lot of great camping recipes in THIS book and I am planning a cooking at your campsite post but some of our favorite go-to camping meals are...

1. Breakfast Tacos with Corn Tortillas, Eggs, Soy Chorizo, Bacon, Avocado, Cheese, and Iced Coffee
2. Bratwurst Sausage, Gluten Free Buns, Peppers and Onions, Corn on the Cob, and Lemonade
3. Portobello Mushrooms, Acorn Squash, Smoked Ribs and a Cold Beer

4. Safety First!

Safety is so important when you're out in the wild.  Even if you're car camping and town may just be just a few miles away it can take much longer to get help.  A lot of the time there is no cell service and no way to call 911 in a real emergency.  Usually everything goes great and theres no need to use a first aid kit other than the occasional band aid or anti-itch cream, but it's always extremely important to have one just in case.  You can buy pre-loaded first aid kits on Amazon or REI, but they are expensive and usually don't even have everything you need.  It's cheaper to buy the individual items and make up your own kit.  REI has tons of individually packed first aid refills that work great and this way you can build up your pack over time.  Common injuries on the campground are skin ailments, snake and insect bites, sprains/fractures, and open wounds and cuts.  If you come prepared you can handle any of these injuries with ease.  

There's some stuff in the picture below, but theres definitely a few things missing that i recommend bringing.  #1 is a snake bite kit...seriously this is the difference between life and death.  Especially for people like me who mostly camp in California this is definitely something to have on hand.  That being said I have never had to use mine - it's just important to have! 

I could go on and on and on and on.  I could tell you all about how to pack for your pet, I could show you the perfect day pack, go into all the gear we use, the best recipes for over the fire, and so much more (posts to come) but these are the four most important steps for planning your camping trip.  It takes a bit of effort to get everything ready to venture out into the wild, but it is worth it every single time.  Check back for more soon!