The cottage, lake house, cabin, or camp is the holy grail of relaxation for many people. It can also be a farm, a country home, or a camping trip. Really any calm rural space is the ideal place to escape the overwhelming hustle and bustle of life. Dog lovers want to experience all sorts of wonderful things with their pups, so an outdoorsy escape is the perfect thing for your canine companion. That said, as with lots of new spaces, it’s a good idea to do some due diligence before you set out for your vacation together.
1. Bring all your doggy essentials
You have your go bag with all you need for a trip to the park, but you’ll want to bring a few more things when you strike out into the great unknown. Bring extra kibble in case you’re gone longer than you thought you’d be, and place it in a couple of ziplock bags and ideally also in an airtight canister in case the scent attracts bears. Bring extra treats (in the same safety containers) in case you need to lure your pup to safety or do some extra recall training. Not all water is safe for drinking, so make sure to factor a thirsty pup into your planning when you’re heading to the well.
Beloved toys will go a long way if your find that your dog is feeling a bit ill at ease, and floating toys are amazing if you’re going to get a chance to play together in the water. Speaking of water: towels. Bring lots of towels because nothing gets the smell of wet dog out of that shabby chic couch or the antique duvet on your bed.
2. Know the location of the nearest vet
This should be something you do every time you go anywhere. Take note of the nearest vet (or a few if you can) and be aware of how to get there and what their hours are. If anything should happen and you wind up with spotty reception or difficulty getting through to the vet, you’ll have the information needed to find them and get your dog seen quickly in case of an emergency. If you have pet insurance or if your dog has complicated medical issues, bring a copy of any information you have so that the vet is best prepared to treat your pup.
Also: now is a good time to remind you that your dog should be fully vaccinated and up to date on flea, tick, and heart worm treatment before you venture out into the woods.
3. Consider your dog’s recall in an unknown environment
We all like to think that our dog is perfect, but now’s a good time to think about whether or not a new and interesting environment is the best place for your dog to go off leash. You can absolutely acquire a stake and a longer leash to let your pup explore and sniff without wandering off. Just be sure that you’re always with your dog when it’s staked in case it needs to run away from danger or gets tangled up around something. If you do want to let your dog off leash, make sure that you have treats on hand in case they’re being a little obstinate.
4. Have some idea of your dog’s swimming abilities
Some dogs are natural swimmers while other dogs are not. Particular breeds may sink due to shorter legs and stouter bodies. Test your dog out at a dog beach or in a paddle pool before bringing them to water if you can. If you have access to shallow water, start with that. Your dog will only go further into the depths if it likes to and can swim. Don’t force anything by pushing your dog off a dock or throwing their favorite toy past their comfort zone. Just let your pup decide what’s best and enjoy seeing your dog explore the water rather than experience fear and stress by going too far.
5. Find and put away all potentially dangerous items
Dog-proofing is a lot like child-proofing. Before you bring your dog into an unknown space, look around the space for gas, kerosene, antifreeze, toxic household cleaners, ant traps, and mouse traps. If you find any of these products, hide them somewhere that can be locked. Bring some extra baby-proofing cabinet locks if you aren’t sure that the space has safe storing spaces. Look really carefully specifically for traps, since they are purposefully hidden out of reach.
Before you put away the traps, make a note of the active ingredient in them just in case you missed one and your dog finds it. Always have the poison control number easily accessible. If your dog does manage to get into something bad, bring them to the nearest vet after consulting with poison control.
6. Research dog-friendly spots in the closest town
A lot of this article is about what not to do, but there is likely a nearby town with something fun for your pooch. Check out the local pet business and see if there are any dog-friendly patios or trails to explore. Even a bakery with some homemade dog biscuits would hit the spot!
7. Make sure your dog has a good time
If your dog is spending the whole time inside, hidden away from nature, what’s the point of traveling together? This trip isn’t necessarily entirely about your pup, but be sure that your dog gets a good chance to sniff new things, find a really neat stick, and frolic with their best friend.