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Pet Friendly: Camping with your pets

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Going caravanning or camping with your friends is great… but what about going on holiday with your “best friend”?

While many of us would love to take our dog along for the adventure, we don’t always have that option. It may be that the caravan park simply doesn’t allow it, or that you don’t know how to handle your furry friend while on the road and camping.

It’s still tough to leave your pet behind. Luckily, there are resorts and caravan parks that understand how leaving man’s best friend at home is like leaving a part of the family behind.

However, taking Fido on vacation isn’t just about finding a campsite that allows pets; it’s also about how to handle him in the park, as well as during the journey.


Words by Lara Meter

To camp, or not to camp? Just because you love the outdoor life, doesn’t mean that your dog does, too! So, before you even start looking for a pet-friendly campsite, decide whether your pets are going to like the experience, and whether they behave well enough for camping.

Other important questions to ask yourself are whether your dog is easily stressed, or is easily distracted, barks a lot, dislikes being on a leash, is difficult to restrain, or is likely to wander off alone. If any of these could be an issue, taking your furry friends along on holiday might not be an enjoyable experience – for you or for them.

If your dog is used to being indoors most of the time, a campsite could be overwhelming or frightening. Even a dog which is used to outdoor adventures may find staying in a caravan or tent for a couple of days something completely different, and this may cause problems.

Also, remember that there will probably be other campers around, and you don’t want to spoil their outdoor time with your dog’s barking or intrusions.

However, just because you are expecting to encounter some of the above problems does not mean that your dog could never enjoy camping… it might just need a little “training” to get it used to the idea.

Training

Get your dog used to the outdoor life. Start with a few short walks on nature trails in your area, then work up to short hikes and half-day hikes before you go on to full day’s outing. Also, get your dog used to being zipped up in a tent, or in a closed caravan, with you.

A command to get your dog to drop something from its mouth or to stop what it is doing is also important. If a snake crosses your path, this could literally mean the difference between life and death.

It is a very good idea to train your pet to stay in the car until it is allowed out. You don’t want it leaping out and running around on the side of a busy road while you are checking something, or grabbing a snack.

Before Leaving on your Trip

Remember to plan your trip according to which resorts and caravan parks allow pets − and make sure that you know all the rules regarding your pet, for each resort.

Take your pet to the vet before you leave, to make sure that it is in tip-top shape and has had all the required vaccinations. Explain to the vet where it is that you plan to venture with your animal, and find out if it should be vaccinated against anything like Lyme disease, tickborne disease or any other life-threatening disease. Make sure also to discuss appropriate flea and tick control.

It is also vital to make sure that your pet is microchipped as an extra measure of protection in case it becomes lost.

Packing for your Pet

Most importantly, ensure that you have an appropriate and well-fitting collar or harness, and a leash. An identification tag on the collar is recommended – but use your cell-phone number and not your home number on the tag, as you will be on holiday and unable to answer your home telephone. Or have both, clearly marked.

Make sure that you pack enough food and treats for the entire time away, as your pet must continue to eat the food it is used to − and don’t forget either the food or the water bowl!

Remember to bring bedding for your pet, as well as toys to keep it occupied, especially for the times when you are busy around the campsite.

You will also need a carrier or some other means to confine your pet when necessary, as well as bags to pick up its waste, a first-aid kit, and any medication that your pet takes regularly.

Packing for your Pet

At the Camp

Always remember that not everyone is a pet owner. Although you may love your four-legged companion, other campers or caravanners very likely will not like it sniffing around.

Make sure your pet is around your campsite, or with you, at all times; and stay alert to keep it from danger. Keep in mind that campfires and cooking utensils can cause injuries.

When you take your dog for a walk inside the park, always have it on a leash. When you are out in nature you can let him run free – if that is allowed.

Never leave your pet confined in a car or caravan, or tied to a stationary object. If you would like to venture out without your pet, make sure that you have a proper carrier, crate or portable-fence unit instead; or you could try planning a holiday with adventurous walks and other activities that you and your furry friend can do together.

While camping, it is extremely important to check your pet for fleas and ticks regularly, as well as for plant material like thorns. This is especially important after walks in the forest, on the beach, or in long grass.

Exercise

Some of the most talented dog-trainers in the world say that a dog needs three things: exercise, food, and love – in that order of importance!

When camping, exercise is a great way to get your dog to enjoy the great outdoors with you, and to keep it from getting bored, so make sure that you take your dog for decent walks during your camping trip. A good walkies session in the morning and evening will also ensure that it releases some of its energy and won’t be running wildly around the camp.

Watch the Weather

Watch the Weather

Feeling too hot or too cold is not just uncomfortable for humans, but also for pets. (If not more so). Make sure that you tailor your camping experience so that the weather will suit your dog.

In the hot summer months, plan hikes early in the morning, or later the day when it’s cooler. Also, see if there are routes to walk which have water along the way − like rivers, or dams. In this way, your pet will have some extra drinking water, or be able to cool off with a swim.

Don’t allow your dog to drink standing water such as that from a pond or puddle. Standing water can harbour parasites, bacteria and viruses that can make your dog ill − sometimes even fatally so. Give your pet the water that you’ve packed for yourself, or purify collected water before giving it to your dog.

Keep an eye out for signs of overheating: coughing, excessive panting, or unusual lethargy. In the cold winter months, don’t think that your pet can sleep outside in nothing other than its furry coat. Rather keep it inside the motorhome or tent and give it a bed to sleep on. If it wants to sit outside with you, take an old blanket that you don’t mind getting dirty, so that your pet can lie next to you.

Etiquette

Not everyone loves pets. So, when you have your best friend on a trip with you, try to adhere to the basic etiquette that will keep it out of trouble. Make sure you know the camp’s rules regarding pets, as some might allow dogs only if they are restrained all the time, and not all dogs are used to this.

Make sure your dog is supervised at all times. Manage the noise level. Just as loud music disturbs other campers, a barking dog can be annoying to others. Try distracting it with treats until it calms down.

In the end, the most important thing is to have fun when camping with your furry friend!

Pet friendly camping in Kwazulu Natal

Villa Spa Holiday Resort Allows small dogs out of season Visit listing
Caravan Cove Small dogs (up to 5 kg) permitted with the owner’s permission and discretion; prior permission to be obtained. Only during low season on the caravan/camping sites Visit Listing
Corian’s Caravan Resort Small dogs allowed by prior arrangement. Only out of season Visit Listing
Queensburgh Caravan Resort Small dogs allowed by prior arrangement Visit Listing
Scottburgh Caravan Park Dogs up to 8kg are welcome in low season Visit Listing
Dolphin Holiday Resort Dogs allowed by prior arrangement Visit Listing
Umtentweni Caravan Resort Dogs allowed by prior arrangement Visit Listing
Anchors Caravan Park Dogs allowed by prior arrangement Visit Listing
Glensheiling Caravan Park Dogs allowed by prior arrangement Visit Listing
Lalanathi Caravan & Camping Park Small lap dogs allowed out of season. They must be kept under control, on leads and be fully vaccinated Visit Listing
Marlon Holiday Resort Dogs allowed by prior arrangement Visit Listing
Wavecrest Resort Dogs allowed by prior arrangement Visit Listing

Pet friendly camping in Eastern Cape

Yellow Sands Caravan Park Allows small dogs out of season Visit Listing
The Willows Resort & Conference Centre Pets allowed by prior arrangement Visit Listing
Nature’s Rest Dogs are allowed, by prior arrangement Visit Listing

Pet friendly camping in Western Cape

Montagu Caravan Park Pet friendly Visit Listing
Beaverlac Pet Friendly 022 931 2945
Lake Pleasant Chalets & camping Pet friendly 044 343 1985

Pet friendly camping in Northern Cape

Onze rust Guesthouse Dogs allowed by prior arrangement. 082 768 0616
Britstown Municipal Caravan Park Dogs allowed by prior arrangement 053 672 0003

Pet friendly camping in Limpopo

Boma in the Bush Woonwapark Dogs allowed by prior arrangement 082 806 5939

Pet friendly camping in Gauteng

Hennops Pride Caravan Park Pet friendly Visit Listing
De Rust Caravan Park De Rust Caravan Park Visit Listing
Magaliesberg Saamrus Guest Farm Pet friendly 051 447 3845

Pet friendly camping in Free State

BnB @ 53 and Caravan Lodge Pet friendly 051 447 3845
Mimosa Caravan Park Pet Friendly 056 811 2312
Greensleeves Pet Friendly 058 622 2875

Pet friendly camping in Mpumalanga

Merry Pebbles Holiday Resort Dogs allowed in certain areas of the resort Visit Listing

Pet friendly camping in North West

Madikwena Game Farm Pet friendly 079 034 8458

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