Heading into the woods for a vacation?

By Nellah Bailey McGough and Patricia S York
Dog Wrapped in Sleeping Bag Camping
Credit: Hana Kim

Every now and then, we love getting the chance to take a much-needed break from our busy, noisy life with a quiet camping trip to ease the mind, body, and soul. We Southerners do enjoy some quality time with Mother Nature, even in these hot dog days of summer. And bringing your favorite companion—your pup!—makes your outdoor excursion even more enjoyable. Adventure, dogs, and exploring just go together like old friends, and hitting the trail with your furry friend can be well worth it, if you're properly prepared. Here's what you need to know if Rover is tagging along.

Before You Go

  • Familiarize yourself with the campground's pet policy.
  • Microchip your dog and register the chip in case he gets lost on a hike.
  • Make sure your pet is current on all vaccinations and flea and heartworm medicines, because mosquito bites can transmit heartworms.
  • Carry your pet's shot records with you if traveling across state lines.
  • Secure a legible ID tag to his collar.
  • Remember to pack your dog's food, treats, bowls, toys, leash, bed, and crate.
  • Ensure he has mastered simple commands such as "stay," "sit," and "leave."

At The Campground

  • Keep your dog on a leash so he won't disturb other campers.
  • Follow the "leave no trace" rule, and always pick up after your pet—even on the trails.
  • Be aware of barking, and quickly quiet him by redirecting his attention.

WATCH: Best Southern Dog Names

Health & Safety Tips

  • Have fresh water handy, especially in the midday heat. Ice cubes are a fun treat.
  • Make sure there is plenty of shade to keep your pet cool.
  • Check your dog for ticks regularly. Remove them using tweezers, being careful to pull off the entire tick.
  • For the safety of pets and in consideration of other guests, many campgrounds do not allow pets to be left alone at campsites. Consider this when deciding whether to take your dog on the trip.
  • NEVER leave your pet in a hot car—even if the windows are cracked.