I’ve written before about my beloved dog Sammy and her health issues; she recently passed away after a long and happy life with us, and we miss her every day. What I haven’t talked about is her obsession with camping, which helped create some of my favorite memories of her. Luckily my husband and I love it too, so camping we would go, all summer long.
We quickly learned a few tricks to making those camping trips go more smoothly. In particular, there were always a few items that had to come with us to make camping with our dog a success. Because of course, with a pup like Sammy, it was never exactly going to be easy.
Sammy was very active, wanted to eat everything, couldn’t get enough cuddles (or swimming or fetch), and was pitch-black in color, so could get lost in the dark. Here’s what helped us camp with her and all of her energy.
Sammy loved to sleep on the fuzzy blanket-covered couch in our cozy living room. Once we took her to the chilly outdoors, we realized she needed dog sweatshirts and warm blankets. Otherwise, she stayed on top of us—all night long.
We discovered one hands-down favorite. This hoodie is easy to put on a four-legged creature, and it held up to all of her crazy ball-playing and rolling around in the dirt. In fact, it kept its bright color and quality after millions of washes.
To be honest, Sammy also looked absolutely adorable in it – which scored extra points.
One warning, though: this sweatshirt may have fit our lady dog perfectly, but dog parents of males may have to bunch it up underneath to make room for the, uh…boy dog peeing situation. Also, we ordered according to the sizing chart, but it was a little snug across her chest, so it wouldn’t hurt to size up.
On our camping adventures, we worried about losing Sammy. We always made sure that once darkness hit, Sammy wore her glowing collar. It was one of those little lifesavers that we were thrilled to discover.
These collars are brilliant because nothing is scarier than losing your dog in the WILDERNESS when it’s pitch black outside. Even with her black, black fur, we could follow Sammy’s bouncing ring everywhere she wandered.
It’s really just for nighttime, though. It’s not entirely waterproof, and if your dog is anything like Sammy was, they’re bound to fling themselves into a river on an extra-hot summer day with little regard to the collar around their neck.
Then when it’s time for hiking to happen, there’s nothing better than having your pup carry their own stuff—and it burns extra energy, too. Hence, we fell in love with the full-day hiking pack for dogs!
The Ruffwear pack is the one we love most, because it’s super-adjustable (so can fit all kinds/shapes/sizes of dogs). It also has soft padding that keeps your canine comfy, and it can carry a lot.
We liked to pack it with some water, extra dog food, and other items Sammy might have needed on the trail.
A word of advice: don’t over-pack it—even if your dog is like Sammy and seems to pack super-strength. Some experts suggest that dogs carry no more than 25% of their body weight, in fact.
That said, when it’s well-balanced, the Ruffwear pack is no big deal for your dog carry. Sammy hardly noticed she was wearing anything.
The bottom line
The Great Outdoors is the perfect place to spend time with your family, and that includes the dog. Dog-specific camping products certainly make the trip a little easier, but as long as you pack the basics, your dog will have an awesome time.