Solo camping with your child and dog: 5 tips for a memorable adventure
So you love camping and treasure the time that you can spend out in nature, but maybe recently you’ve had a child and aren’t sure how to incorporate them into your camping excursions, or maybe you go with your kids already and have recently added a dog to the family and need a little guidance on how to handle both. Fear not! I’m here to help. As an avid solo camper with dogs who has added a child to the mix in recent years, I have some tips for you to help ensure an enjoyable and safe experience for everyone involved.
1. Plan for separate sleeping spaces
A good night's sleep (or as good as you can get) is crucial for a successful camping trip, especially when young ones and pets are involved. While it might be tempting to all cozy up together, it's essential to provide separate sleeping spaces for your child and dog. This can look like bringing a pack and play for your child so that they are safe inside the tent and/or a crate for your dog. Keep in mind that kids can often get pretty wild while camping (especially if it’s a new experience) so having a place that your dog can go to feel safe and just relax is a must. If you’re backpacking and can’t bring along a crate, a dog sleeping bag (like the Outback Dreamer) is perfect for your dog to have a cozy spot that is all theirs. Teaching a “place” command and having them stay there all night will go a long way to making sure everyone has their own space.
2. Bring the right gear
On that note, having appropriate gear can make a world of difference when camping with a child and a dog. Invest in a durable and reliable leash that allows your dog to explore safely while remaining under your control. I love the Mudventure leashes for camping because the dirt-repellent coating makes it easy to clean. A sturdy harness with a handle will provide extra security in challenging terrains or just to control your dog in busy places. Also, bringing layers for your dog is just as important as bringing weather appropriate layers for the kids. Keeping everyone warm and dry will make it a more enjoyable experience.
3. Establish boundaries and manners
Before setting off on your adventure, it's important to work with your child and dog to establish appropriate boundaries and manners. Teach your child how to interact with the dog respectfully, including gentle petting and refraining from disturbing the dog while eating or resting. Similarly, ensure your dog understands basic commands like "sit," "stay," and "leave it." This will not only keep your child and dog safe but also make the camping experience more relaxed and rewarding. Keep in mind that although your dog and child might excel at this at home, camping in close quarters is a whole different experience and it might take some work and practice to get everyone comfortable.
4. Pack sufficient water and food
Exploring the wilderness can be energy-draining for both your child and dog, so it's a must to pack sufficient food and water for the trip. Carry a mix of healthy snacks and meals that are easy to prepare, both for your child and your dog. Don't forget portable water bowls and a water filter to keep everyone hydrated. It's also wise to research the availability of fresh water sources near your camping site to plan accordingly.
5. Choose dog-friendly camping locations
When camping with your child and dog, selecting the right camping location is crucial. Look for dog-friendly campgrounds or backcountry areas that permit dogs. Ensure the location is safe and offers opportunities for activities suitable for both your child and dog, such as hiking trails, open spaces for play, and maybe even a nearby lake for swimming. Check the campground's rules and regulations regarding pets and follow them to ensure a positive experience for all campers. Make sure you follow leash laws in the area to choose to go.
Solo camping with your child and dog can be an incredibly rewarding experience, creating cherished memories and strengthening the bond between you all. It’s amazing to experience the world through your child’s eyes and also feel like your old self again by heading out into nature. By providing separate sleeping spaces, bringing the right gear, setting boundaries and manners, packing sufficient food and water, and choosing dog-friendly locations, you are well on your way to a successful camping adventure. With thoughtful preparation and setting some realistic expectations (hot tip: lower them and then lower them again), your camping trip will be one for the books. Happy camping!
Want to see more of Dom, Reid, Aster, Pippin and Stoke's adventures? Check them out on social media instagram.com/domcarson or head on over to their website domcarson.ca for more tips to make getting outside with kids easier.