A dog is a human’s best friend, and also an adventurer’s best buddy. Many think that adventuring with a dog is more difficult and complicated than being just among humans. Many make their adventures shorter when dogs are around, because they think that sleeping outside with your dog is complicated and messy.
However, this is true only if you are not ready and organized. And since we love hammock camping with dogs and exploring with them in general, here are some tips and ideas for hammock camping with dogs and for adventuring with them in general.
When adventuring with dogs you must keep one very important thing in mind: you have a choice, they don’t. You choose where to take them, how to treat them, what to make them do or not do. They will follow you no matter what. So be wise for the both of you.
First of all, make sure you have all the necessary permits to enter a specific place with your dog and to camp there with him. Not all trails, parks and green areas allow dogs, or sometimes they do, but only under specific conditions. Sometimes they must be kept on a leash at all times, or they must wear a muzzle, or they must be no bigger than a certain size.
And even if they do allow dogs, then not all of them allow camping. And in these cases hammock camping is no different. Even if a hammock has a much smaller impact than a tent and needs less space, it would still be some kind of free camping and shouldn’t be practiced.
And of course, finding out on the spot wouldn’t be pleasant, not only because you might end up wasting a lot of time and fuel to reach that spot, but also because you will have to find a solution that can be pleasant and suitable for your dog too.
Now, let’s suppose everything is fine: you can enter with your dog and camp with him too. Are you sure the trail you intend to hike/bike/run is suitable for him? Are you sure it’s not too dangerous? What are the possible complications that you might happen to have while adventuring with your furry friend?
Make sure you know where you are going. If the place is too hot, or too cold, or too dangerous. If you need any special equipment for your dog, especially if there’s the chance of waterfalls, strong streams of water or steep sections. A life jacket for dogs or a harness for dogs could be a life savior.
In general, make sure you have enough information to provide your dog with fun and happiness and no danger or suffering.
If you want your friend to be able to enjoy his time to the fullest, make sure he is in the right shape, both aesthetically and training speaking.
A good fur, properly trimmed if needed, as well as clipped nails are very important if you want to allow your dog to adventure safe, without getting tangled, or without hurting while walking for many miles. Also, it will help him to stay clean and avoid bugs and insects.
Also, if you want to host him on your hammock is good to prevent his nails from scratching it and tearing it apart. Another solution can be dog boots, for both walking and hammock camping with you. Just keep in mind that their sensitivity will be less and that some dogs might find them so uncomfortable that they might refuse to walk with them on, so don’t give for granted that they will enjoy wearing them. We highly advice rehearsing at home first, as we will mention later too.
Besides a good grooming session before setting off for adventure, make also sure that your dog is trained enough to endure not only long days of hiking, but also multiple days outside in a row. You should make sure to be trained too: one thing is to adventure among humans, one thing is to be with your dog and having to take care of him too under any circumstance.
Do you know how to rescue him? Are you fit enough to carry his water and food too? Do you know how to read his behavior and signs?
Also, don’t take for granted that your dog will have all the endurance - and character - to spend a whole day following you around. In general, don’t just assume that he will be willing to do everything you will ask him to: he might be lazier or more afraid than you think and a pleasant experience might end up being a traumatic one for him.
To help your dog to stay clean and well trained is a great and a very important part of his health and safety, but it’s not enough. First of all, your dog should be vaccinated and protected against parasites and diseases. He might be bitten by an unusual insect or bug, or he might eat something that will make him sick.
Be ready to intervene and help him to get through pain and/or sickness regardless of the kind of incident, and also make sure to know how to call for help in case something more serious than expected happens.
Besides food and water, make sure that your dog has all the gear he needs to adventure, have fun and be safe. You will be the one who will have to provide it for him and who will be aware of what he needs, so don’t overlook this component just assuming he will be fine.
As we mentioned earlier, life jackets and harnesses are needed in case an activity requires them. Also, as we said, dog boots can be useful in some occasions. Remember to bring a rain jacket for your dog, which is 100% necessary when outdooring for several days. Also, if your dog doesn’t love sleeping in the tent or in the hammock with you - which is highly unusual, but still possible - you can opt for a dog tent: they are very small and easy to build.
Alternatively, you can get a second hammock tarp just for him and arrange for him a nice bed that will keep him cozy and insulated from the ground. You can use a classic camping mat with some towels on it, or some other material that doesn’t get soaked with humidity or ground moisture.
If you are going to face cold conditions, then get a puppy sleeping bag that will keep him warm and ready to face all kinds of temperatures.
On the other hand, if you are going to adventure and camp in hot conditions, then make sure to be able to provide your dog with shade if needed, or to be able to shield him from the sun with a cooling bandana and some water. Heat strikes them too.
Also, remember that dogs can carry their own “backpack”. Of course, it can’t be too heavy, but it could be enough to make him carry his own bowls, or sleeping bag or raincoat. In general, it could be a good solution to make him do his part too, without overloading him too much. Otherwise, his resistance and health could suffer a lot from it.
As we mentioned earlier, food and water are part of the “gear” and elements that you should take care of when adventuring with your dog.
We don’t advice to put any food in his backpack, or he might smell it and focus on it only.
Make sure you have enough food for him for the whole time or that you can get some new stock along the way if the days are too many and the weight would be too much. In general, make sure you can always provide him with a full meal every day.
Also, water is another very crucial point. Make sure you have enough of it not only in terms of drinking, but also if you need to refresh him. Don’t take for granted that you will find some more on the trail and if you come across a water source, don’t give for granted that he can drink it just because he is an animal. Some waters are too dirty for dogs too, so always have a water purifier on you to clean his water too.
Last but not least, do keep in mind that your dog will need some extra energy, so maybe the kind of food that you always feed him is not energetic enough. Either choose a different variety, or take with you some treats and extra bites to give him to reward him, or to just make him have a snack during the day.
Quantities in general will have to be bigger because of the many activities you will be doing during the day, so don’t feed him as if you were spending a regular day at home.
Now, the first thing is that your dog is well trained in terms of obedience and that he responds to your orders. This is not for fun or to have complete power over him, but to keep you both safe and relaxed. He might not know that something is dangerous or poisonous or forbidden, so it’s very important that you can stop him from doing anything he shouldn’t be doing.
When you are off guard or busy doing something else, such as sleeping or cooking, then it would be better to keep them on a leash. At the same time, it’s something that clashes with the outdoor philosophy. The best option would be to create the ultimate leash for outdoorsy dogs, that should be at least 15 ft long, if not more of course, and that will allow him to roam around without distancing too much from you.
However, we don’t suggest tying the leash to his collar, as he could end up strangling himself. Have your dog wear a harness (we are not talking about the same harness he will use for rappelling or similar activities, of course) and tie him to that, so he will be more comfortable and safe. Keep the collar for the identification tab, that your dog should always be wearing.
We are not talking about a tab with just the name of the dog on it, of course, but also your contacts and, possibly, some more information about yourself: where are you staying? What’s your home address? What’s the emergency contact in case you can’t be reached? And if the dog has any special medical condition, it’s very important that you write it there, so that if someone has to rescue him they know what to do.
Too much information to write on a single tag? You can use more than one, or you can get one of those tags that can be opened and store in there all the information you need to pass on to those who will find your dog in case of emergency.
In general, when night falls, attach a light to their collar so that you can keep an eye on them more easily and find them in the darkness in case they get lost. If you place it on their back it won’t disturb their sight but it will help yours for sure.
Dogs get wet and muddy and dirty and have the incredible superpower to do it in the wrongest moment, like for example before having to go to sleep, or before having to enter the car. In general, wet dirt will be part of your endeavors, so be ready to solve it properly.
An extra towel to dry and clean your dog, or to place it on the mat where he’s supposed to sit is a very good solution, but sometimes it could not be enough and it could get dirty too. You can wash it as often as you can, but we suggest to combine it with a currycomb for dogs that you can use to take away mud, water and dirt from their fur.
After you have everything you need and you know what kind of adventure you want to do with your buddy, then practice at home before going. From sleeping in a hammock, to trying on all the gear during a one-day long adventure, to envisioning all sorts of situations and rehearsing what to do, try everything at home first, so you can make sure you are ready to enjoy your adventure and your hammock time together.
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