For many families, a summer camping holiday is an annual event. Escaping life in the city, long days spent in the great outdoors...what could be better? But is it really a family holiday if someone has to stay at home? Your four-legged friend probably can’t come along on every holiday, but they definitely can join in the fun of camping.
Before you go
Choose the right campsite
Not all campsites allow dogs, so avoid turning up ready to set up camp only to have your pooch turned away. Most camp sites located in a national park won’t be an option, because dogs are banned to protect native wildlife. Some caravan parks don’t allow dogs at peak times, so choose to travel off peak (you’ll likely save a fair bit of money too!) or find a site where dogs are allowed year-round.
Thankfully there are plenty of sites and caravan parks that welcome dogs. Search for a dog-friendly site on Youcamp, or try one of these sites:
- Old Bara Campsite, Mudgee NSW
- Mystery Bay Campground, Mystery Bay NSW
- Jubilee Lake Holiday Park, Daylesford VIC
- Seaspray Caravan Park, Gippsland VIC
- Bluff Creek Campground, Kenilworth QLD
- Amamoor Creek Camping Area, Amamoor Creek QLD
- Woods Reserve, Paddys River ACT
- Old Kowen Homestead Recreation Area, Kowen Forest ACT
- Big Brook Arboretum, Pemberton WA
- Chuditch Campground, Dwellingup WA
Check your campsite’s rules
Once you’ve found a campsite that loves your four-legged friend nearly as much as you do, make sure you check if there are any particular restrictions on dogs. Some caravan parks allow a limited number of dogs per site, or require you to keep your dog on a lead in certain areas (or everywhere). Make sure you check if there are any areas of the campsite where your dog isn’t allowed and if the site expects you to provide any specific equipment for your pooch.
Get your dog holiday ready
Anytime you’re taking your dog away, it’s a good idea to get your dog a pre-holiday check up at the vet. When you’re going camping, it’s especially important to check that their vaccinations, flea, tick and worming medication are all up to date - they’ll be spending a lot of time outside, so it’s important they’re protected. Tell your vet about your camping plans and ask them to do a general health check to make sure your furry friend is in tip top shape to enjoy the trip.
Nothing will ruin your holiday faster than your dog going missing, so check that the details on their tags and microchip are up to date as well - that way if your dog gets over-excited and runs off, anyone who finds them will be able to reunite you quickly.
Find a dog-friendly rental car
If you’re hiring wheels for your trip, make sure your dog is allowed along for the ride. Car Next Door has plenty of pet-friendly cars for hire. Filter your search for pet-friendly cars to find one near you. If a car is marked as pet-friendly, you can take your dog along – just be sure to clean up any pet hair or other mess before you return it. Bringing a blanket or car seat cover along will make that job quick and easy.
Pack the doggy holiday essentials
While your dog won’t need as a big a suitcase as you, there are a few essentials you’ll need for them:
- Vet and vaccination documents in case you need to see a local vet while you’re away
- Pet first aid kit - you can buy one from a pet supply store or assemble your own
- Leash and stake to secure your dog at your campsite
- Food and water bowls - if you go camping regularly or boot space is at a premium, it’s worth investing in some collapsible travel bowls
- Pet-safe inspect repellant
- Bed or sleeping mat
- Enough food for the trip
- Favourite dog toys
- Poop bags
While you’re on holidays
Keep your dog safe and happy on the drive
Even if your dog is used to riding in the car, a longer trip could be stressful or boring. Dogs can get just as restless – or even more restless – than we do on long drives. Take your pup on a long walk before setting off and plan to stop every hour or two for a toilet break and a chance for your dog (and you!) to stretch their legs.
Just like you’d never get in a car without putting on your seat belt, your dog should be restrained in the car for their safety. RSPCA statistics show that about 5,000 dogs are injured or killed each year as a result of falling from a moving vehicle, so don’t risk it! Keeping your dog restrained will also prevent them from moving around a distracting the driver, and decrease their risk of injury if you do have an accident. Get a pet car harness that fits your dog well so you can secure your dog using the car’s seat belt system. And it goes without saying that you should never leave your dog alone in the car - even on a milder day it doesn’t take long for the temperature in a car to get high enough to cause your pet heat stress or even death.
Be good to your fellow campers
Once you’ve set up camp and you’re enjoying some time in the great outdoors, it won’t take long for the worries of every day life to melt away. But don’t throw responsible pet ownership out the window just because you’re on holidays. Keep a stash of poop bags handy so you can clean up after your dog quickly, and keep your pup out of your neighbours’ campsites by having them on a leash or well-trained to come to you as soon as you call. Some campsites and caravan parks require you to keep your dog tethered at your site, so make sure you’re prepared with the necessary equipment. Make sure you supervise your dog at all times, for their safety and for the comfort of other campers.
If your dog isn’t happy sleeping outside, make sure you’ve got room for them in your tent or book a cabin that allows dogs inside. Your fellow campers will quickly tire of your puppy’s whines and barks, and your relaxing getaway will soon become a stressful ordeal. If your dog is sleeping outside, keep them on a short leash to prevent them chasing after other campers or wildlife in the night.
Let your dog enjoy the great outdoors too
The whole point of bringing your dog along is to let the whole family join in on the holiday fun, so give them plenty of opportunities to enjoy the trip! Great dog-friendly camping activities include time at the beach (make sure it’s dog-friendly), swimming in a lake or river, nature walks and exploring the nearby town. Once your dog has worn themselves out, head back to the campsite for a nap for them and a few hours with a good book for you.