Now that the weather is finally starting to cool off, we can enjoy our favorite part of the fall. Camping with our dogs!
For my family, the scorching summers are too much to handle when spending the weekend outdoors. But right around Labor Day weekend, (which also happens to be my birthday weekend) the heat finally breaks and the weather is perfect.
Say goodbye to flip flops and air conditioning and say hello to fresh cool breezes, sweaters, and fire pits surrounded by friends.
Our camping style has changed quite a bit over the past few years. When Lazer and I first started camping with dogs, we did it the old school way.
We would have everything we needed strapped to our backs and would hike for hours to a spot to set up camp. We would set up a few small tents with friends, build a fire, and enjoy being fully immersed in nature.
Cali was a puppy back then but because of her extreme separation anxiety, she never left our sides. So we didn’t have to worry about her running away. In fact, I went hiking alone with Cali before everyone else got up and got completely lost in the woods. I told Cali to go find Lazer and she led us right back to the camp.
Choosing an RV
After 2 seasons of sleeping on the hard ground, our backs really started feeling it and we weren’t really enjoying camping anymore. We decided it was time to upgrade our camping style.
Since we always went camping with friends (who also have dogs), we decided using an RV would be a good idea. Now that live in a share economy, we figured out that instead of buying one we can rent someone else’s RV for the weekend and choose from hundreds of listings.
Most of the time, we rent RV’s through RVShare. All you have to do is put in the dates you need, the amount of people, and the location. Once you do that there are more filters to narrow down your search. We always choose something that’s pet friendly so we don’t have any issues with the dogs.
Another great thing about RVShare is that you can choose the option to have your RV delivered to the site for you for an extra fee. This is a great option for people who are uncomfortable driving RV’s or they don’t have the right kind of vehicle to tow it. Because of this option, I search the location closer to the campsite so the delivery fee is less.
If you happen to live/camp in the New Jersey area, you can rent the same 7 person camper I used for only $90 per night. Between the 4 people we took on the trip, it was only $25 per person per day!
Choosing a Campground
When it comes to choosing a campground, you should look for one that suits your needs more.
If you have kids, choosing a park like the Jellystone Franchise is great because they have amenities like pools, playgrounds, gamerooms, train rides, and more. They also have 75+ locations throughout the US and Canada. And of course, this is also a great spot to camp with your dog.
However, if you’re looking for something more adult focused, you’re going to have to do your research depending on where you live. I live in NJ, so my favorite dog friendly campground is Mountain View Campground in Milford, NJ.
This campground is only 1 hour outside NYC, which is perfect for a weekend getaway. This is a special campground because it is intertwined with over 150 acres of farmland, and well spaced out RV lots for privacy. (Which is difficult to find in other campgrounds.)
The people who work in the campground office are super nice and helpful. We asked for a lot that had the most privacy so our dogs wouldn’t bother anyone and they gave us a secret lot all the way in the back next to the woods. 5 out of 5 stars for sure!
If you’re looking for more dog-friendly campgrounds in the NY/NJ area, check out some of these parks:
What to Pack: Hoomans
People always tell me that when it comes to camping, taking an RV is the more expensive way to go. However, I find it’s usually the opposite.
By having the RV, we save money on things like cookware, food waste, sleeping bags, air mattresses, mosquito netting, etc. My household is all about keeping waste at a minimum, and we try to save money where we can. Most of the stuff we need for the RV we already have in our house. These things include:
- Pillows & Blankets
- Bathing Suit
- Bug Spray
- Mosquito Candle
- Water Filters
- Hiking Boots/Sneakers
- Hiking Backpack
- Personal Identification
When it comes to food, I like to prepare meals a few days in advance and freeze them. When we’re ready to leave I’ll place them in a cooler until we get to the RV. Then once we’re there they’re transferred to the fridge.
Instead of going to the grocery store on the way and spending hundreds of dollars on random foods, this way saves a lot of wasted food and money. The difference is usually hundreds of dollars.
What to Pack: Puppies
If you’re like me, your dogs are your children and you want to make sure they have everything they need to be safe and have fun.
Most campsites want your dog to be leashed at all times when walking around outside of your lot through the rest of the campgrounds. Some even want your dog to be leashed on the trails as well. So to make it a little easier on us owners, it’s smart to bring different lengths of leashes, as well as a few other helpful things:
- Food & Water Bowls
- 6 ft Leash
- 10-30 ft Leash
- Dog Toys
- Hiking Backpack
- Flea & Tick Collar
- Heartworm Medication
- ID & Rabies Tags
- A Stake & Leash Line
- Poop Bags
- Homemade Treats
- Enough Dog Food for Trip
The Importance of Dog Training When Camping
Regardless if you’re camping in an RV or a tent, if you’re planning on having a fun, relaxing time with your friends and your dog, your dog needs to have basic obedience training to avoid any drama with others.
You don’t want your dog to run off unattended or walking into someone else’s campsite. Just because we love dogs, doesn’t mean everyone does! This basic obedience training includes:
- Solid Recall on Command(Dog comes when called every time)
- Sit/Stay Command
- Potty Training on Command
- Quiet Command
Campground Etiquette for Dog Owners
As for dealing with other campers, there are a few unsaid rules to be followed when it comes to your dog. Most people who like to camp also tend to be friendly with dogs, but not all people are.
So to avoid any drama, minimize any social behavior between your dog and other campers. Make sure your dog doesn’t bark constantly so they don’t annoy other campers trying to enjoy their weekend. And of course, always remember to pick up after your dog and to never leave them unattended at the campsite.
Camping is a fantastic and inexpensive way to spend time in nature and bond with your friends and dogs. With the right training and tools, you can have an easy, relaxing, stress free weekend and memories that last a lifetime.
What are your favorite pet friendly campgrounds? What do you find helpful to take on your trips? Let me know in the comments!