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Ruffing It: Camping Essentials for Your Dog

Want your best friend to come with you on your next trip? Take this advice from a seasoned dog trainer.

He’s your best friend, you want him with you. We get it. But the reality of camping with your dog can be very different than the Lassie-like level of obedience you envision. We asked Tom Puliafico, master dog trainer at Heights Canine in Cleveland, how best to prepare for a trip with the canine in your life.

The Nose Knows: Your dog is going to experience lots and lots of new scents, and some will be so strong the instinct to hunt and, consequently, run away may kick in. ”Bring a long line — 20 to 30 feet — so your dog has more freedom to sniff and explore without worrying about them taking off, especially if they aren’t off-leash trained,” Puliafico says.

Bugging Out: Beyond the standard flick-and-tick prevention your dog should already have, Puliafico suggests a dog-friendly bug spray or essential oils to keep the mosquitos and other insects at bay. “Our dogs get annoyed with the bugs as much as we humans do,” he says.

Good Boy: Before taking your dog camping make sure he will come back to you when you call his name. “ ‘Here’ or ‘come’ will definitely come in handy just to make sure that your dog stays away from anything that might be dangerous,” Puliafico says. “Having a strong recall command is really important.”

Checklist: Camping Supplies for your Dog

• Poop Bags: “People sometimes forget these but it’s important that we not only clean up after ourselves but our pets as well.”

• Cooling Pad/Bed: Dogs overheat easier than humans do, so having a space where your buddy can literally chill out is essential. “If you’re camping with your car, turn the air conditioning on and let them cool off there or buy a cooling pad or bed so that your dog will stay hydrated and prevent any overheating problems.”

• Crate: “If your dog is crate-trained at home, you should continue putting them in the crate while camping.” Crates provide a safe space for your dog, and can even be put inside a tent at night if necessary.

• Pop-Up Water Bowls:  “I am a fan of these, I always carry one while hiking. It extends into a bowl to pour water in and when you’re not using it, it collapses nicely into a flat disc.” Bonus: You don’t have to deal with the extra weight and space of an actual water bowl.

• Spray bottles and Crate Fans: Both of these tools provide additional ways to keep your pup cool during the dog days of summer.

• Life Jacket: “I tell people to always have a life jacket for when your dog wants to explore any body of water.” Make sure that the life jacket is fitted to your dog. Just like humans, it’s not a one-size-fits all sort of thing.  “You just never know: There might be sharp rocks at the bottom or the water may be too deep.” It’s piece of mind whether your dog is hanging out in your canoe or taking a dip to cool off.

For more information about Heights Canine, visit heightscanine.com.

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Camping Dogs How-To