Camping in the UK with a dog
Like almost 2/3 of Brits, we are a family of staycationers! We’ve always enjoyed camping, pitching up near national parks or coastal paths armed with wellies and suncream, crosswords and cricket sets, torches and extra toilet rolls… but this year we had a new list of dog camping essentials as Bosun the Boxer joined us on his first ever camping experience!
How would he cope? Would the British weather be kind to us? My main concern was that the sounds of the tent fabric in wind or rain might spook him and he would not settle, barking and howling all night. Keen to ensure a positive experience, we decided not to venture too far from home and booked to stay at Petruth Paddocks, a family and dog friendly campsite we have stayed at several times before only a 40 minute drive away in the beautiful village of Cheddar in Somerset – Famous for the Cheddar gorge, caves and cheese! The reason being not only IF it turned out to be a complete disaster for our canine companion one of us could easily return home, but also it allowed the whole day to set up and get him used to the tent before having to retreat inside to sleep. Indeed, as the date of our trip approached, the weather forecast was not alleviating that concern… but more on that later.
Dog camping essentials
Bosuns camping Checklist – Read on for your own dog camping checklist!
Some of the items on that list are obvious – you can never have too many poo bags and of course you would take a blanket and a bowl. But so many dogs I meet don’t have a collar and ID tag or nameplate because they wear a harness. But besides there being a legal requirement for all dogs to wear an ID tag, consider the fact that you are away from home, perhaps out in the sticks and your dog gets lost? You could be a long way from a vet with a microchip scanner. An ID tag is the quickest way you can be contacted to be reunited with your dog. The windbreaker is perhaps less obvious, but this can offer your dog some shade and also enables you to screen off an area to reduce arousal and interest from passers by or kids playing nearby. Hopefully you won’t need the tick twister but if you’re unfortunate enough to pick one up you’ll want to remove that beastie asap!
Secure tie out
The best thing about camping is beng outdoors, so you’ll want to make sure your dog can safely enjoy this too! You may need to secure your dog outside whilst you cook or just to prevent them running off to join in with the kids playing cricket across the field! A good ground stake is the best way to do this as you can position it anywhere you like. When choosing it’s position consider the length of the line being used in proximity to the tent, stove, camping chairs and anything else they might get themselves entagled in. Make sure your dog can reach shade and water too.
You can use your dogs lead but a long line (training line) will offer a bit more freedom if the space is available. If you don’t have a long line you can use a trusty length of paracord, which is one of our camping essentials! Used for everything from spare guy ropes to makeshift washing lines and emergency shoe laces, paracord 550 has a permanent place in our camping kit. This versatile utility cord is what I use to make all Fur Babies dog collars and leads, and with a breaking strain of 550lbs, it’s strong enough to hold a mastiff yet lightweight enough for a chihuahua! You will need to master a good knot to secure your dog – Click here to learn how to tie a Fishermans Bend, aka Anchor Bend.
Always remember to use a harness to tie out, not the collar to avoid injury to your dogs neck.
Back to our trip… Having arrived in good time to set up the tent, the kids were sent off to explore and Bosun was given a little exercise before we set to work. It was midday and hot, so he was glad of the shade provided by the windbreaker. We had chosen a spot at the far edge of the site for reduced people traffic, in an effort to set ourselves up for success and our boy watched and drank it all in as we huffed and puffed and argued over which pole went where (even though we’ve put this tent up 20 times)! Finally set up and relaxing with a cup of tea in our tin mugs, all was well although I had a watchful eye on the weather forecast whilst Bosun kept a wary eye on the tent. He wasn’t ready to go inside yet! By early evening, with some encouragement and treats, we were able to convince him inside. But he struggled to settle and we pretty quickly found a problem… a zip door was not going to keep him inside! Sniffing around, he promptly found a way to escape by nudging the zip up with his nose and was soon checking out the menu next door (luckily our neighbours found it quite funny and were happy to spare a sausage for the starving beast)! To manage this he had to be kept on lead whilst inside the main compartment and certainly couldn’t be trusted to sleep out there on his own, so to the kids delight he joined them in the sleeping pod amongst the sleeping bags, where a double zip provided an extra barrier to his escape.
Early morning and to the sound of sheep in an adjacent field, Bosun was able to enjoy his freedom running and playing off lead before the site woke up. The weather become very changeable, with hot sunny spells suddenly broken by downpours of rain and the wind was picking up. This, sadly, was not ideal for exploring the Cheddar Gorge but we did enjoy walking through the village and it’s many dog friendly shops and cafe’s. We also found a nice walk along the river not far from the campsite, with plenty of access points to get in for a cooling dip! That evening and the next however brought heavy rain and strong winds, which really put Bosun’s nerve to the test. It was some of the worst weather we have ever had whilst camping, so quite the baptism of fire (and water) for him and although he certainly found it very hard to settle, the fresh air and exercise had helped to tire him out and eventually he was snoring between the sleeping bags again. We may have had the odd bark but no unmanageable distress causing us to call time on his stay.
All in all, Bosun coped really well with the experience and we’re really proud of him! Now we can look forward to many more trips and adventures in the future. Perhaps next time we’ll make it up onto the Gorge?
Click here for your free dog camping Checklist!
Where shall we go next?