Things I’ve Learned While Camping with My Dog

Things I’ve Learned While Camping with My Dog

This spring I couldn’t wait to go camping and hiking with our dog Opal. We adopted Opal in October the previous year, when she was about four months old. We worked on a lot of training and commands during the fall and winter but didn’t venture too far from home. As the snows of winter melted, we found some time to visit some open spaces. The first time I took Opal to the green belt near Lake Lowell, it was like watching someone find their truest calling in life. She loved running, smelling, jumping, and exploring, all the while looking back to make sure I was there, and everything was okay.

As the year has gone on and we have been able to venture out, I feel so lucky that we found Opal and brought her into our family. I look forward to every adventure with her and I know she does as well. She knows what’s up as I begin pulling out my gear and loading up the truck. Once it’s time to go, she can’t get into the truck fast enough.

The Drive

I found early on that Opal will pant almost the entire drive. I don’t think she is nervous, when she knows it’s time to go, she can’t wait to get in the truck. I have had a concern that she pants for quite some time though. I have found she prefers to be on the floor or as low as she can get. I have tried some anxiety-reducing treats, however these don’t seem to help much. She doesn’t care about a bed either. Ultimately, I think she will benefit most from a kennel in the back cab. I think this will help Opal relax and rest on our way.

At Camp

I wasn’t sure what Opal was going to do at camp. Our first trip out was not at a busy campground, so we didn’t have to worry about other people. She loved being able to explore and sniff anything and everything. I was really surprised as she would wander off, a soft whistle brought her right back.

A few weeks later, we ended up at a campground with a lot more people. The rules for most campgrounds require your dog to be tied up and secured. Opal wasn’t as big of a fan of this situation. Opal is also very cautious of people she doesn’t know, so if there are people around, I feel better to have her secure. Not because she is aggressive, she is just quick to let people know she thinks they’re close enough.


I’ve been able to take Opal out three times this year now and I have noticed her appetite decreases considerably. I haven’t quite figured out why this is yet. Part of me thinks she is preoccupied with other things. I also think she may just be young and has a lot of energy. When you notice your dog’s appetite is diminished, it’s important to feed something that is of high quality. Opal has been on Grandma Z’s Idaho Trout and Potato since she came home with us. I know that what she is getting is well formulated and she is getting everything she needs.

When camping from the truck, weight is not really a concern, so I am not worried about bringing her regular food. Hiking is another concern. Adding an extra 2-3 pounds of regular dog food might not seem like a lot, until you are four miles into a seven-mile hike, and you aren’t in as great of shape as you thought. For our next hike, I will be switching to freeze-dried food for Opal.


Having plenty of water for Opal and myself is a constant concern. Particularly when we are on a trail. Camping from the truck, it isn’t an issue. I will bring my own water and we both stay hydrated. This last time, on the trail, I brought a water bottle for Opal that was a review product we received from a potential vendor. This water bottle has a cup attached to the top. The design is very helpful on the trail. It has a small screw inside the cup that doesn’t come out all the way. When opened you can simply squeeze the water bottle that will fill the cup and allow your pup to drink from it. Opal wanted nothing to do with it when we were at home. Once we were on the trail, she took to it very easily. She had no apprehensions once she really needed the water. I gave our buyers the feedback, so hopefully, we will see them available in the stores this year.


Nighttime is honestly one of my favorite times when I am out camping. When things calm down and the stars come out, I can’t think of a better moment in life. For Opal, this has been a time I’ve worried about. I’ve brought her a pillow when we are camping from the truck, but she just won’t use it. She honestly seems just fine sleeping in the corner. The last time we went out was in the middle of August. The daytime temps were very warm, however, the morning temps got down to 28 degrees. I usually wake up a few times during the night and I checked on Opal as the temps dropped. She never felt cold or seemed bothered by the temperatures. She was very excited to get up and explore again that morning though.

I don’t think this is always going to be the case. Having a better sleeping option for Opal, particularly as she gets older is still on my mind. This is something I will continue to ponder and look for a solution.

Camping with Opal is still very new for us and I think there are a lot of things I have yet to learn. Camping and hiking have become two of my great passions over the last few years. There is something about being away from it all. Remembering what is important in life. Spending this time with Opal really deepens our connection and we both look forward to our next adventure.