Camping with Dogs

Our dogs are our kids, and we love to take them with us when we go camping. Now I realise that dogs are not everyone's cup of tea, and there are some very bad pet owners out there (same could be said of parents – its true), but there are those of us, and there are a lot more of us good ones than the bad ones, that try to ensure that everyone including the dogs has a good time.

Savannah, Kassidy and Poppy just love the caravan. From the bed they can see out the big windows or just fall asleep for an arvo snooze. The additional blanket on the top of the bed means we can easily get rid of any dirt they may bring in.

Rule one – if the dog poops you scoop, this is easy really and a no brainer (wee is a different matter – and yes I have been yelled at to pick it up, I'm still working on the scoop for it).

Rule two – don't let your pet roam aimlessly. Restrain them to your general vicinity or camp site. I can't stand it when strange people or kids wander through my camp site so completely understand their feelings about strange animals doing the same.

We always make sure that we are in pet friendly camp sites or caravan parks. For the latter we have made a point of sending pictures of the girls (as we have three – this can prove useful). Our girls sleep inside, both the van and our actual home. At home they have their crates (except for spoilt hound Kassidy – she thinks she is human and I don't discourage this), in the van however with weight coming into play the girls all sleep on the bed. Thankfully we have a full queen size so all five of us fit.

These soft doggie play pens have been invaluable especially at places where the girls need to remain restrained. They love their pens and will happily sleep in them for hours at a time. The floor is removable for cleaning and they fold flat for easy storage.

If we are just hanging around the van we have two large soft enclosures that we join up. This gives the girls somewhere to lie down in, especially when they get hot, we also have leads and stakes that have zip lines on them – the girls are still getting used to these. We generally don't leave the girls off lead, that is to say unrestrained. They are happy to lie around with us and do nothing. We take them on three or four walks and where possible down to the water each day. As long as they are with us they are happy.

We don't go out and leave the girls alone; this is a choice that we have made. One of us will always remain behind. Other people are comfortable leaving a pet with sufficient water for a couple of hours, and this is also fine. It really boils down to what are you and your pet comfortable with and also what are the rules of the place where you are staying – keep these in mind.

Our favourite place to take the girls is Best Friend's Holliday Retreat in the Tarra Valley, Victoria. They have large off-leash areas for the girls to run around in and play with the other dogs. All the guests there are dog people so you don't have the issues you sometimes encounter at regular caravan parks.

Transporting the girls, we have car seats (one for each dog- saves complaining) and they are harnessed into their seats. It is law in Australia that your pets are restrained. This could not only save them in the event of an accident but also you.

Kassidy showing off her car seat. These were another great find. With three dogs across the back seat, they would often get in each others space. These seats allow them their own area, they feel secure in them, they are raised higher so they can see out the windows easily and they are restrained in them very securely. Brilliant.

Will this get more difficult when we are on the road for a significant period of time, yes I suspect so. BUT we made the choice to have them (and wouldn't change it for the world) and we wont leave them behind either. There will be places that we can't go and things we cannot see. We are going into this with our eyes open. There are also going to be times when we get them looked after or groomed for a day and then we can see somethings that we can't normally because of the girls. For the most part we will plan around them.

Its pretty simple really. Its gets a bit more complex if you have a nervous dog that may bark a bit. You may find that you need a 'safe place' for them (crate or even inside to calm down a bit).

To find out more about West Highland White Terriers as travelling dogs, clisk HERE.

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