Slowing down… Changing the Definition of ‘Adventure’
I had ALWAYS wanted a dog, though with my frequent travel, flying and busy schedule, the time was just never right… up until a few months ago. I decided to station myself in Red Deer full-time this past September, which provided me with more stability and time for a dog. I picked Timber up in early April, and it has certainly changed up my definition of ‘adventure.’ I can’t lie and say I wasn’t a bit worried about what I would and wouldn’t be able to do for the first while before getting my little man, though that worry quickly went away. Being a ‘fur mom’ has undoubtedly made me slow down a bit, but it has been for the better. I can’t just jet off anywhere in the evenings, weekends after work or plan every trip I want too, as I have my pup to tend to and consider when planning any adventures.
Even the simplest things like going for a walk or a drive, hanging at my family’s lake house, or visiting friends and family has turned into an adventure. I LOVE being active and going for walks, so it’s nice to have Timber join me and get me out walking more than before. It’s also taught me to slow down, be more patient, and appreciate the smallest things, because as a puppy, he’s interested in every pinecone, dirt pile and rock.
Timber went on his first hiking/camping trip two weeks after I got him (at 10 weeks old), and during the hike he spent 90% of the time in my backpack. I was so proud of how well he did, and it provided me and friends who tagged along with so many laughs. He has already been on 5 hikes, and I can’t wait until he is fully grown and can do entire hikes on his own.
Hiking doesn’t have to stop because you take on the responsibility of a new pup (unless they truly hate being in the backpack and squirm a lot). Just make sure you do the following:
- Pick appropriate trails – nothing too technical or too lengthy.
- Pack plenty of water and food for both of you.
- Be conscious of the heat/weather conditions and be ready to make a judgment call on whether it’s good for your pup to be out for long periods of time, especially if there aren’t many water sources nearby (a lake or stream where they can jump in and cool off).
- Be aware of the potential wildlife and keep your dog on a leash at all times when outside the pack.
- Make sure you read ahead to see if the trails/area even allow dogs to begin with. If not, have a back up plan.
- ALWAYS pick up after your pup. Carry plastic bags with you. Pet waste can be a hazard to people and wildlife. Cleaning up after your pet helps protect water resources, plant life and habitat for native animals.
- Finally, never put your dog at risk of injury or exhaustion for the sake of your own adventure. Think smart!
Camping With Your Dog - Travel Tips
- If you have to leave your pup in a vehicle for a while, be sure there is proper ventilation, that it’s not too hot, and that they have some food and water.
- Stop regularly while driving from place to place to allow your dog to exercise and to have a drink or snack.
- Bring some of his favourite things with you: treats, toys, blanket, etc. to make him feel like he is safe and at home wherever you may be going.
Make sure you call ahead to see if dogs are permitted at your chosen destinations and be prepared to change or adjust plans if not.
- Never leave your dog unattended.
- Do not allow your dog to bark – even though it will happen once in a while, it is important not to allow your dog to bark continuously as it will disturb your neighbours and attract unwanted wildlife.
- Make sure your dog is not getting out of control.
- RESPECT all campground rules in regards to on-leash and off-leash areas.
- ALWAYS pick up after your dog – even in the forest or wooded areas – and dispose of the waste in appropriate trash cans.
- Making sure your dog is on a leash at the campsite. There are a few tips to leashing your pup:
- Make sure he/she is not close to a campfire.
- Make sure the leash is attached to a sturdy tree, picnic stake, or anything that your pup will not be able to break free from.
- Make sure you keep an eye on your dog to make sure they are not becoming tangled up with anything else on the campsite or getting into anything they shouldn’t be.
- Keeping food and other items out of reach.
- Making sure your pup is free from any road/traffic way.
- Tie rope between two trees and attach the leash to the rope. This gives them room to roam and helps prevent the leash from getting tangled.
- If you have a smaller dog, bring along a small, foldable exercise pen (for easy storage in your vehicle), so they can have more freedom off-leash but still are enclosed in a safe environment.
Be CONSIDERATE of others both ON and OFF the trail and around the campsite. Remember, we all enjoy the outdoors in different ways. Pay attention, expect to encounter others when out hiking and in the campground, and be courteous. Yield to ALL. Others may not appreciate your dog’s company; always ask before allowing your dog to approach them. Excessive barking is never a good thing, and we want to let nature’s sounds prevail.
Last rule… ENJOY the experience! Camping and hiking out in nature with your dog not only connects you to Mother Nature, but even more to your pet. Being able to experience things together and expose your pup to new environments, places, people and other dogs will make that bond even stronger. By following proper campground and trail etiquette, the experience will be more enjoyable for you, your pup, and everyone you encounter along the way.
Having the Coleman Support Rest Double High Airbed allows for plenty of room for your pup to sleep with you and another person, given its queen size. When I use it, it feels like I took my bed from home and put it inside the tent. However, your pup – like mine – may prefer to sleep on the ground where it’s cooler if the evenings are warmer.
The Coleman Prairie Trail 8- Person Tent is GREAT when camping with your dog, as there’s tons of space for them to be beside the air mattress/on the ground if they prefer to sleep there. Also, if you prefer, you could set up their crate inside if they consider that their ‘safe place,’ and they can then feel even more at home. The vastness of the tent is also great for rainy days (given it sits 6’5” high), where you, your pup, and whoever else can relax inside the tent and not feel too crowded. This is very different from what I am used to when I am backpacking or in a tent that’s shorter, especially when you add a dog to the mix.
The Coleman XL Broadband Quad Chair is great for hanging out around the fire. Timber loves sitting on my lap; the chair size provides extra room, and the arms offer a place to rest his head. However, if your dog is huge, the XL size may not make a difference and he’ll have to find a spot on the ground to curl up at the end of the day. 😛 My pup also loves curling up on the chair when I am not on it.
The Hot Water on Demand Water Heater is also great for showering/rinsing off, and on the colder days, your pup may also appreciate a warm rinse off alongside you.