SAFELY MAKE YOUR CUDDLE BUDDY A CAMPING COMPANION.
Atlanta’s proximity to hiking trails and campgrounds that offer countryside escapes less than an hour from Buckhead high-rises is one of the special aspects of living here. Instead of leaving dogs at a boarding facility or with dog sitters, many Atlantans choose to bring them along—after all, it can be just as fun for your four-legged pals. Since they may have their own set of needs while exploring the great outdoors, Clay Windsor, a certified Atlanta-based REI instructor of local experiences, shares the following best practices to keep in mind before you and your pup hit the trails or campsite.
Local Camping Guidelines
“All Georgia State Parks have a 6-foot local leash law. Meanwhile, U.S. Forest Service lands have much fewer rules, so off-leash dogs are allowed,” Windsor says. “But you’re not a good neighbor if your dog goes wandering into someone else’s campsite, so be sure that [your dog] has good recall [skills].” Those same skills can keep a pet from getting lost.
Weather and Terrain
Dogs handle heat or cold very differently. Windsor suggests that if your dog doesn’t handle the heat well, find a campsite near a stream where a pet can cool off. And make sure a dog that is sensitive to the cold has a warm jacket to wear. Additionally, dogs’ paws may not be used to rough terrain. “If you’re hiking a far distance or are going to be in a rock-intensive area, you may want to get shoes for your dog so their paw pads don’t get injured,” Windsor says.
Bedtime with a Dog
It isn’t cool to leave your dog outside the tent because of the potential elements and dangerous wildlife such as bears. Consider getting a large enough tent so there’s space for your pup. “Bring some kind of dog sleeping pad. Otherwise, they’ll be sleeping on yours,” Windsor says. Some tents have a vestibule, a small sectioned-off “mudroom,” but not all dogs are willing to be separated from you.
Extra Food and Water
“Take into consideration the activities you’re planning while you’re out there. If your dog is getting a lot more exercise than they’re used to, they’ll need a lot more calories than they normally get,” Windsor says. For example, if you’re camping and doing big day hikes or taking your dog backpacking, then they’ll need as much as 50% more in calories than what they usually eat in a day. “Also, your dog is going to drink way more water than you think, and streams aren’t always reliable, so always carry extra water.”
Make sure your dog is in shape for what you plan to do. Don’t walk your dog for only two weeks and then go on a 12-mile hike. You might end up having to carry them. “It’s also a best practice to take your dog to the veterinarian for a quick checkup and to trim their nails before a long trip,” Windsor adds.
WHAT TO PACK
5 MUST-HAVE ITEMS FOR CAMPING WITH YOUR DOG
Dick’s Sporting Goods
3535 Peachtree Road
Mountain High Outfitters
1248 W. Paces Ferry Road N.W.
165 Perimeter Center W.
STORY: Taylor Heard
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