Camping with dogs

By: Barry Ashenhurst, Photography by: Barry Ashenhurst

Can’t leave home without your dog? You’re not alone! Discover the best ways to accommodate your furry best friend on your next camping trip.

Many people like to take their pet pooches on camping trips, but whether you’ve got a pug, poodle or pointer it’s not always a breeze.

Fortunately for dog owners, many of Australia’s nicest caravan parks allow dogs. Some, like the Garden of Eden Caravan Park in Eden (NSW), even have a dog wash where you can tub pooch if he’s a bit stinky after two days of being cooped up on the back seat.

Check out our top tips for travelling with canis familiaris (and if you’re travelling with canis lupus, good luck).

Travelling with your dog? Find and book pet friendly holiday park accommodation.

Travelling with a dog

Dog In A Car

1. Wash and go

If you give your dog a bath before you leave home you won’t have to insult his dignity all the way to the campsite. A thorough brush won’t hurt, either, so you won’t have fur drifting around inside the cab while you drive.

2. Bring a comfort blanket

To counter the problem of flying fur, bring a dog blanket for the back seat. If you’re travelling with a puppy that may be a little anxious about being in the car, chuck a favourite toy in there with it.

3. Give it a break

Dog And Car

You need a break every couple of hours and so does pooch. Puppies with small bladders may need a pee break more often than that. A dog who desperately needs a pee but knows it’s forbidden to relieve itself in the car is in physical as well as metaphysical agony. Let it out!

And when you do let it out, don’t yank it around. Dogs love sniffing things — the ground is their newspaper — and when you jerk it away from a juicy scent you’re depriving it of one of life’s great pleasures. Let it waffle about a bit to sniff the world and leave its mark on it.

4. Keep it cool

Dogs are heat-sensitive and have few mechanisms other than panting and limited sweating to regulate body temperature. So…

  • NEVER leave your dog in a closed car for any period of time.
  • If it’s a hot day, fire up the air-con or open a window for it while you drive.
  • And make sure it gets water when he needs water.

5. Take its tucker

Dog Camping

As you all know, dogs have accurate internal clocks. They can’t tell the time but they sure as hell know when it’s time to eat. If you’re likely to be travelling all day and half the night, take enough food to give it dinner somewhere along the road. Fed dogs are happy dogs. And they sleep better.

6. Go for a walk

Before you put the camper up, take your dog for a walk to let it relieve itself and get to know the new environment. A dog is curious and loves to investigate. Let it do it.

7. Keep it in check

Dog Yawning

Just because some caravan parks have dog-only areas doesn’t mean you should let your dog run riot. Keep it loosely tied up when it’s not out with you and pick up any mess it leaves in the park.

8. Watch other dogs

Be cautious about other dogs until you know them. Aggressive dogs are a pain in the arse. We love our dogs but they’re not always predictable. A dog can only do what a dog will do. You can’t read its mind. You don’t know what another dog is saying to it, either, although there are clues. If one or both dogs raises its tail, growls and walks around on tippy-toes to make itself look bigger, there’s going be a fight so look for an escape route. The chance of two male dogs doing all of the above is about 50-50. Assume the worst until proven wrong.

9. Make it comfortable

Dog In A Deck Chair

Loosely tie it up as it sleeps outside the camper when it’s hot, and inside on a blanket when it’s cold.

10. Know your animal

How you travel with a dog depends on what sort of character it is and how well you know it (although it’s true, you’ll never know your dog as well asit knows you). Exposing a young dog to other, friendly dogs in a caravan park can be a useful exercise in socialisation. But if you’re unsure what your dog will do when you stick it in a car for several days (or weeks), or how it’ll react to other dogs in a confined area, maybe it’s better to kennel it while you’re away. You might miss it, but at least you won’t have to worry about being asked to leave the caravan park that it took a compass, a cut lunch and a King Charles spaniel to get to.  

Should dogs be allowed in caravan and holiday parks? Join the debate!