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When camping with your dogs, it is important to choose a campground that will offer the most dog-friendly experience for you and your four legged family members. The obvious first step is to find a campground that allows dogs. Use this Dog Friendly Campground Finder to find campgrounds in your destination. Identify a shortlist of campgrounds that appeal to you and take some time to research local vets or animal hospitals around those campgrounds. It may also save you some trouble down the line to call these local vets and ask them about camping with your dog at your short-list of campgrounds. Ask them if they have any knowledge of the campground and if travelers have ever had to bring their pets in for treatment while staying at the campground. While you are at it, jot notes of the hours of availability for these local pet doctors in case of emergency.
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A dog-friendly campground is not only one that welcomes your pet, but also one that fits your dog’s needs. The best campgrounds for you and your dog will have:

  • Acres of woods with trails for hiking and exploring.
  • A meadow good for playing fetch or Frisbee without bothering other campsites
  • A campground that is known for attracting other camping with dog lovers such as yourself
  • A location that is near rivers, streams or lakes
  • Regularly sprays for mosquitoes and ticks

Once you have chosen a campground, the next most important factor to ensure your dog’s fun and comfort is to have the right campsite features. A proper campsite will:
Have adequate shade for your pet to avoid the sun during times spent lounging at the site during the day

  • A campsite near the woods will allow your dog to be constantly entertained by the sounds, scents and sights of the wooded outdoors
  • Being near a stream or lake will allow your dog to catch some fresh water or a quick, refreshing bath without having to travel too far.
  • For campsite near the woods, be sure that the site itself has adequate room to tether your dog with enough leash so as they cannot go wandering into the woods if left alone to sleep outside at night.

Call the chosen campground prior to heading out to determine which campsite meets the best criteria for you and your dog. Ask them what restrictions such as leash rules, identification, and verification of rabies certificates may exist. Ask the campground what type of precautions or preventative maintenance they have taken to make the campground friendly for dogs. As an example, we encountered an unpublished dog-friendly campground rule that required our dog to be on a 6’ leash at all times. These are the types of campground dog rules you will want to be prepared for ahead of time. You can get a list of dog-friendly campground questions by visiting Camping With Dogs website.

While the campground may be a “dog-friendly” campground, that does not always mean that dogs are truly welcome. By calling the campground you can get a sense of their feeling for having dogs. If you sense that they are not going to welcome your four legged family member with open arms, but you still want to stop at the campground try to find a campsite that is away from the campground office and somewhat isolated from other campers. This will allow you to better enjoy your stay by avoiding any confrontations with people who may not be too into dogs or the campground management.

One final note. While most dogs are smart enough to know which plants are good for them and which are not, there are a lot of natural plants, trees and shrubs that are not healthy for dogs and could be poisonous. For instance, grape vines, black walnuts, wild cherries and moonseed berries can all be very harmful plants for your dog. While your dog may be well aware of what is a good or bad plant back home, their curiosity and excitement could lead them astray in places that are foreign to them. Be sure to understand what plant risks for your dog may be around in the area you intend to be camping. The ASPCA publishes a list of plants and trees that can harm your dog. Use this link to use the ASPCA’s Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants for Dogs Tool. Many forest reserves will also publish information about local plant-life that may be harmful to your pets.

In addition to plant dangers to be aware of when camping with dogs, be sure to read about Dangers to be Prepared for When Camping With Dogs. Understanding what insects, animals and other dangers to avoid will help you when you call the campground to inquire into its suitability for your dog camping trip.

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