When we first brought home our itty bitty lab mix rescue, we made two promises to each other:
- We will train this dog to be the BEST hiker, camper, and all around the best outdoor efficianto the dog world has ever seen.
2. We will NEVER dress our dog in human clothes.
So… I may or may not have broken promise number two… on day two…BUT I mean… look at her!!
I wish I could say that promise number one has been conquered, but we have learned that with all things, teaching your dog to adjust to an outdoor lifestyle takes some time and practice.
While yes, that is a bit dramatic, it’s definitely important to consider all variables when camping with your four legged friend. We decided to start in a very controlled camping environment: the family campground. In her first year, we took several trips over the camping season to get her comfortable with tent sleeping. Everything was going so well! We learned how to curb her night time anxieties that were triggered by all the various sounds of the forest. We even managed to get to the point where she slept a few hours. (The first few camping trips meant sleepless nights for Riley, who felt it was her duty to stand guard while we slept.)
For our last camping trip, we wanted to get a bit adventurous. Though, we weren’t ready to take her deep into the woods just yet, for some reason we thought it was a great idea to take her canoeing…
First of all, finding dog friendly campgrounds in New York is pretty easy. There are sites like BringFido.com that offer pet friendly lodging of all types in one place. The only problem I have found with the site is that the options aren’t very diverse and are extremely limited. I usually use this site as a jumping off point, but most often than not, I find myself on ReserveAmerica.com. This site offers a collection of campgrounds all throughout the US and you are able to filter your results to fit your needs, including pet friendly sites.
I decided it was a good idea to reserve an isolated site, only accessible by canoe. We had a good amount of gear with the intention of getting to our isolated site early and simply relaxing in the beautiful autumn forest. Before loading the canoe with our camping gear, we decided to take a spin with Riley to see how she reacted to being on the water. Given her cautious nature, I thought she would be so nervous by the moving boat that she would hunker down and be afraid to move in fear of the lack of sturdiness of the floor beneath her. Boy was I wrong… Riley would NOT stop moving. She could see minnows in the shallow waters and kept trying to jump out of the canoe to play with them. I immediately abandoned my paddle and threw myself on top of her to stop her sudden movements while Andrew attempted to steer us to shore. We didn’t hit land before Riley wiggled free, jumped the side of the canoe into the water leaving us struggling to maintain balance. Once it became clear that we weren’t going to tip over, our sighs of relief were met with applause by several picnickers on shore.
After this stressful sequence of events, we knew our dreams of island camping were not coming true. We packed our car back up and changed our reservation to a drive in site. We were pleased to find that the drive in sites were spacious and quiet. Though the campsite wasn’t at capacity, each campsite had a good amount of space from one another. We settled into a site on top of a hill and had the most amazing night. Riley behaved herself and even slept through the night! After an unsuccessful start, our trip turned out to be perfect.
I am by no means an expert on camping with a dog, but rather, a hiker who is learning. I have learned that animals are just like us humans in that they are unpredictable. It’s important to pay attention to your dog and make sure you’re doing what is comfortable for them as well as yourselves. The last thing you want to do is get yourself into a situation you are not comfortable handling.
Do any of you have tales of camping with your pets? Is there anything I should know going forward? This next season will bring some wilderness hiking and camping and I could use ALL the advice I could get…!