Some of my most cherished childhood memories include time spent exploring nature with our family dogs. I can still picture how happy we all were whenever they were part of our trips. It made the whole thing so much more fun. Now that it’s my turn to take the kids camping, Neige, our Golden Retriever, is a very welcome guest even if that means a lot more planning.

Camping with Pets - Our Golden Retriever Neige on one of our camping trips. Photo Credit Terry Marshman

Our Golden Retriever Neige on one of our camping trips. Photo Credit Terry Marshman

To take your pet camping you must be flexible with what you do and where you go. It’s also good to know that most destinations have strict rules for visiting pets. You are often required to stay with them at all time, which means you’ll most certainly miss out on some of the local attractions or restaurant meals unless you are willing to sit outside.

If that doesn’t bother you, with a bit of research, you too can create some wonderful memories that you will talk about for years to come.

Destination first

When it comes to taking your pets camping, not all destinations are created equal. Fortunately, in most provinces dog owners are spoiled with choices.

If you enjoy the wilderness, parks are a great place to take your four-legged friends on a holiday. Dogs are allowed at most national parks and campgrounds. Some destinations such as the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site in Alberta and the Thousand Islands National Park in Ontario even offer luxury pet-friendly camping options.

“Just remember, pets are required to be on a leash and attended at all to ensure your safety and the safety of your pet,” National Operations and sales manager Michael St. Denis says. This is particularly true in bear country where you need to be extra vigilant to avoid unwanted encounters.

You can also take your dog to some provincial parks but each province has their own set of rules. Dogs can stay at almost all provincial parks in Ontario, while Quebec only recently allowed dogs in a handful of its parks as part of a temporary trial. In some provinces, you will even find areas where dogs can roam off-leash for a while.

If you are after a more civilized experience, or if you prefer more amenities, then RV parks and private campgrounds are a great option too. It’s surprising how many welcome four-legged friends across the country, with some even allowing cats to stay. These are particularly good if you are on a road trip and want to explore more than one destination.

Whichever destination you choose, it’s always best to check first to know what you are allowed, what you need to bring and whether there are extra fees for your pets.

What to pack

Here’s my handy list for a successful trip:

– A couple of leashes
– Water bottle; I particularly like bottles that convert into a bowl
– Collapsible travel dog bowls to save on space
– Food packed in airtight containers
– Water; consider whether or not fresh water is available
– Poo bags, and plenty of them; it goes without saying that you always need to pick up after your dog, especially in wild areas where it could impact the wildlife.
– A light for your dog’s collar…just in case you lose them in the dark!
– A bed and a couple of their favourite toys to make them feel at home

For those who want to make it a regular affair, specialized brands such as RuffWear have an extensive line of gear created especially for the adventurer dog. MEC also carries plenty of gear for dogs, ranging from sleeping bags to trekking boots.

Need some inspiration? Meet Loki the Adventurer dog and Aspen the Mountain Pup.

I call shotgun!✌🏻

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