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Thread: Q for campers with large dogs
03-23-2011, 10:41 AM #16
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You won't know till you've taken her how she'll act, but it sounds like you have a good candidate for camping. Best of luck. We'd hate to leave ours, especially since the big one has special needs and we don't really trust anyone else to care for her.
We use walking belts I made for that purpose. They're padded belts with sturdy D rings attached. Carabiners clip the leashes to the D rings. This leaves our hands free. We also use LED headlamps at night, which are handy when it comes to picking up messes in the dark. Again, they leave our hands free.
We also use carabiners to clip the leashes to other things, such as our chairs, which works when we're sitting in them, but of course the dog can take off if we're not.
We use oversized carabiners to clip the dogs to the trailer. We got them at either Harbor Freight or Walmart, or maybe at both places. They just happen to fit through holes on our trailer's step, which is convenient. You could also throw a chain or rope or something around a tire on your car if you don't want to attach a leash to some other part of the car. Just be sure whatever you use is very sturdy.
One of our dogs sleeps on the bunks, one on the floor. For the one on the floor, I re-purposed a thick piece of foam from an old couch cushion covered with Cordura pack cloth. This ensures she has a comfortable place to sleep and is protected from the cold coming through the floor. This is important not only for her comfort, but also because a cold dog will pace and be restless all night long as it looks for comfort. Consequently, if Sparky didn't have her pad, WE would be kept awake all night.
Our dogs also have heavy jackets for cold nights. People laugh about that since they're huskies, and the northern breeds are noted for being tolerant of cold. However, ours are huskies used to sleeping in a seventy-degree house, not a thirty-five-degree trailer. (We don't run our furnace at night.) So it's the same deal as using a pad on the floor, if they're not warm and comfortable, they're restless and keep us awake. The jackets keep them comfortable. I made them out of a flannel sheet on the outside, an old blanket for an interliner, and sweatshirt fleece on the inside, and they are oversized so when the dogs lay down, they are completely covered. Their legs and feet would get cold just like ours and be uncomfortable if the jacket wasn't oversized.
We carry a separate duffel for the dogs which contains their jackets, rain gear, extra leash, brush, etc. It's always packed and ready.
Take along dog dishes, too. Ours have stainless steel pet bowls that stay in the trailer. I also picked up a set of Outward Hound 2 in 1 Port A Bowls at a garage sale for snacks on the road. These zip together and are meant to be used for food and water, but we only use them for food. This worked out great last year when we all practically lived in the truck for two weeks, and couldn't have dog food in the trailer per bear restrictions at Yellowstone. Not everyone feeds their dogs en route, of course. We like to give ours something to chew on when we load them in the truck because the little one tends to sing, and chewing distracts her and shuts her up.
Our dogs will not eat dog food on a trip. I've heard of others who are the same and yours may be, too. They will literally starve before they'll eat dog food. I don't get it, but it's a fact. They will, however, eat all kinds of doggy junk food, although the only thing they'll reliably eat is chicken jerky. We don't worry about it on a weekend trip, but it becomes a concern for longer trips. We load up on a variety of the treats they tend to eat and give them a variety every day so they can pick and choose what they want to eat that day. It's like feeding a kid a steady diet of candy, but it works with our brats. At least they don't get so weak from lack of food they can hardly walk, which we've seen happen and which makes us feel like the worst pet parents ever. So they get their junk food and everyone is happy.
We use a Water Hole travel bowl for water on the go. It's not completely spill proof but it helps a lot. I finally wised up and bought a spare, one for the trailer and one for the truck. One less thing that has to be dragged back and forth every time we set up camp or break it. Having one in the tow vehicle has made a HUGE difference, as the dogs are far less restless if they can get a drink when they want one en route. Again, for short trips it doesn't matter all that much but for longer trips, it saves time because we stop less.
When you're at camp, be aware of wildlife and don't leave the dog dish outside with food in it, or inside the tent in case something would chew through it to get to the food. The rangers will know if they have raccoons and bears that might be attracted to the dog food, but smaller animals like squirrels, mice, and chipmunks can be destructive, too. Even ravens can make a big mess if something is left out for them.
If we are traveling and it's too hot to leave our girls in a closed vehicle, we take turns seeing the sights. Not ideal, but it works. We make sure we keep books and Nintendos handy to entertain ourselves while we wait, and try to find a shady spot to park in, preferably at the far end of a parking lot where there is some grass so the dogs can be tied to the tow vehicle and still lay in the grass in the shade.
I'm sure you'll have a great time with your doggy. I agree with the sentiment that they're family.
Sorry this is long but hopefully it gives you some ideas how to handle your own doggy.
- 03-23-2011, 11:27 AM #17
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Spirit Deer - great advice.
I went to walmart this morning and bought two large clips to make it easy to move her for one leash to another. We also found a steak called a stout streak designed for stronger dogs.
We don't leave food out for her at home, she eats it all in one big gulp and it's gone, LOL So she will eat when we do and it will be put away.
For sleep , we are bringing her bed with an extra foam pad to put under it. Temps here aren't that low so I shouldn't be too cold for her.
I think were set for this trip. It's just an hour away and it's only for three nights. Figured the first time out with her probably shouldn't be a big trip since we really don't know what to expect from her. It think she will be a great camper but who knows? I have my friend on back up to get her if need be.03-23-2011, 11:43 AM #18
03-23-2011, 12:22 PM #19
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03-27-2011, 05:58 PM #20
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Everything went fantastic! She was the best dog in the park. While she didn't particularly enjoy being tied up so much she loved walking the trails and visiting with the other campers. She slept quietly and paid no mind to the wildlife.
It did get cold the second night and she slept under our blanket with us. Dh and I were nice and toasty because I brought the electric blanket thinking it might get chilly. Apparently she loves the blanket she crawled under head and all. Imagine that big dog and two adults on a blow up mattress Yeah it was a bit crowded but I love to snuggle her.03-27-2011, 09:05 PM #21
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Fantastic! Looks like you have a winner there!
Our little husky sleeps under the covers if it's too cold, too. She hates her jammies so it's a good thing!05-01-2011, 12:33 AM #22
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I will tell you what NOT to do when camping with a large dog! lol
When my st. bernard was about a year old we took him camping, we were sitting around the fire at night and I hooked the end of his leash around the leg of the chair. I got up and went to get a drink out of the ice chest and asked my husband to watch the dog. My dog tried to follow me like usual and the chair went with him, he got so scared that something was following him that he went into a dead run. He ran and ran trying to outrun his attacker! He knocked over chairs and BBQs and tables but we couldnt get him to stop he was too scared because the chair was still "chasing" him. Finaly I jumped between him and the chair to stop the chair, it left huge bruises on my shin but my poor puppy was SO happy that I ended his "attack". My friends still joke about it, it was pretty funny... but the poor guy was scared to death. lol05-01-2011, 03:49 PM #23
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awww...that's a cute story Kate. Your dog must be such a sweetheart05-01-2011, 04:40 PM #24
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I take my dogs everywhere they especially love camping too.
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