There are many benefits to camping and touring in the UK (fresh air, freedom from modern stresses and stunning locations to name a few!), it is also one of the only types of holidays where you can bring your four-legged friend along to join in the fun without too much hassle. The majority of UK campsites are dog-friendly (Southfork Caravan Park definitely is!) and as dogs generally love the outdoors and spending time with the family they make wonderful camping companions.
There are many benefits for dog owners too when deciding to take your beloved family dog(s) camping - you won’t be fretting about how they are coping without you, you will save money on kennelling or dog sitters and they are a great motivator to get out and about as well as a great distraction for keeping kids entertained. If that wasn’t enough they can also double-up as a furry hot water bottle at night, keeping you warm on those cooler nights.
However, taking your canine camping requires an extra level of preparation and organisation which is why we have put together a list of expert tips to help ensure your trip is successful!
Dog camping essentials (pre-holiday!)
- Identification tags and collar: No dog owner wants to think about a lost dog and fortunately, this situation is rare. However, there are some things as a responsible dog-owner you can organise prior to your camping or touring trip to ensure that if your four-legged friend does decide to go for a solo walk - it won’t be long before they are identified and returned to you. Before setting off, ensure that your pooch has up-to-date ID tags and that they are easily readable and securely fastened to their collar. Check that all your microchip details are current (specifically any mobile phone numbers) so even in the worst instance that your dog slips their collar - they can still be identified with a microchip reader and returned safely to you.
- Medication, boosters and flea/tick treatments: Ensure your dog is up to date on any annual vaccinations, flea/tick treatments and worming tablets before travelling, your furry-friend is going to be spending some serious time outdoors and you don’t want to come home with any extra critters. If your dog takes regular medication, speak with your vet prior to travelling and ensure you have enough to last you the journey. If on new medication (as sometimes unavoidable) then make sure you know of any potential side effects so can prepare in advance.
- Journey times: Some dogs are absolutely fine with travelling and some are not so good. Take time to ensure that any campsite you have selected is within a reasonable distance for your dog to travel. Take into account the time of year too, mid-summer many dogs will struggle with long hot delays in traffic jams so ensure that you have planned in enough rest stops along the way for your pooch to stretch their legs, cool down and eat/drink.
- Research the local area: Before choosing a campsite have a look at the locations surrounding it, take time to plan and research dog-friendly areas in the local vicinity. You may have found a perfect campsite by the beach but if dogs are not welcome or are restricted to specific months/times then this can make your canine camping holiday more problematic than it needs to be and will save disappointment. Southfork Caravan Park is completely dog-friendly, we have an enclosed dog area on site and a huge amount of accessible walks nearby - a list of Dog Friendly Days out in Somerset can be found on the Dog Friendly website.
Packing for your Dog’s camping trip
- Take something familiar: Ensuring that you pack your dog’s favourite blanket, bed and toy is a great way to settle your canine friend into a new and unfamiliar environment. The time of year can make a difference - if you are camping in the cooler months or winter, additional blankets will help your dog feel warm and snuggly - you can even get special doggy sleeping bags for the seasoned four-legged traveller!
- Food: Most dogs are usually quite excited to be out and about with their beloved family, however in unfamiliar environments you may find your dog becomes slightly unsettled for the first night or two and so ensuring that you keep things familiar as much as possible is definitely advised. Packing enough of your dog’s normal food for the duration of your trip is essential - estimate what you need and then add on extra in case of any unforeseen circumstances. Dogs can have quite sensitive stomachs when it comes to dietary changes and managing an upset stomach for your pooch whilst camping or touring can make for a very stressful trip for both you and your four-legged friend. Depending on where you camp, you may not have access to local shops or supermarkets that stock your dog’s usual food. Taking some extra treats is also a great idea - if you are planning on being active every day your dog can afford to have a few more calories - it may just be enough to buy you some time for some relaxation of your own once back at the campsite!
- Water: When camping at Southfork Caravan Park, you will have access to clean water at all times so this will not be an issue for your dog (or you!). However if you are planning on wild-camping then as tempting as it may be to allow your dog to drink from the a local water source such as a stream or river, to avoid any ingestion of potentially life threatening bacteria, it is imperative to ensure that your dog has access to a clean water source. Depending on the time of year - the water source you researched may have dried up during a long hot summer.
- Collapsible food and water bowls: You will need bowls! Not much to say here other than investing in collapsible bowls is great for any camping or touring trips where saving space is essential, they are also a must-have item if you are planning on taking longer walks and need to feed and water your pooch on the go.
- Lead(s) and ground stakes: Invest in a decent sturdy lead designed for outdoor use. Long leads are also advised as are sturdy ground stakes to enable your dog to enjoy time outside with you when you are unable to provide undivided attention - particularly when cooking or washing up. If your dog gets tangled up on a long line, another good idea for this is to have a fixed ‘zip line’ which your dog can wander up and down whilst remaining on a short lead. This works really well where there are two fixed things you can secure the line to. A spare lead (or two!) is always recommended as it is not uncommon for your four-legged friend to decide to chew through their lead (here at Southfork Caravan Park we know how excitable dogs can be!!).
- Waste bags: It is never ok to leave your dog’s waste in any woods, beaches or outside spaces, even if they are off the beaten track. Not only is it inconsiderate to others, dog faeces can transmit harmful bacteria and parasites to local wildlife, causing devastating effects. Ensuring you have a good supply of waste bags is essential.
- Towel(s): Many dogs love to get dirty and what kind of camping trip would it be if your four-legged friend couldn’t indulge in a bit of dirt-bathing? A towel or two (even three?) is a must to ensure that once your dog is done for the day any dirt comes off him or her before coming into the tent! For stays longer than a few days it may be worth investing in some dry dog shampoo to keep the dirt at bay before a proper bath can be given back at home.
- Coat: If you are planning to camp in winter then ensuring you take an appropriate coat with waterproofing will protect your dog from the rain, ensuring he/she stays cosy and warm enough to enjoy some winter days out.
Keeping your dog safe when camping
- Shade: Dogs are unable to regulate heat as well as humans and so ensuring that they have a shady spot to cool down in is absolutely essential. Relying on the tent or a pup-tent is a no-no as temperatures can be even hotter under canvas in direct sunlight. Southfork Caravan Park has many shaded pitches and we will try to accommodate any requests at the time of booking, contact us to find out more or view our Touring & Camping section for more information.
- Doggy first-aid kit: Just like us, our four-legged friends can also have the odd accident and many minor incidents can be dealt with by yourself without the need of expert intervention. Good items to pack include - dog wipes in case of any upset stomachs, a tick remover, foot protecting socks (particularly when hot or on rugged terrain!), canine bug repellent if required, bandages and non-adhesive dressings. It is essential to find out prior to travel where the nearest local vets are in case of emergency.
- Life-Jacket: Some dogs are natural at swimming, however if your dog loves the water but isn’t so skilled at swimming or is nervous of the water and you plan on spending time near beaches or rivers then a doggy life-jacket with handles is a must. Lightweight and available in different sizes, this is something that is definitely worth researching before the trip.
- Reflective gear: Many dog owners will already have reflective gear for their four-legged friends due to the shorter winter days in the UK. However if you are camping then reflective gear is a must even if it just a reflective strip on the collar or leash. This is particularly important when wild-camping or on more rural campsites where there is little to no light pollution overnight. You can also purchase light up collars (battery powered LED collars) which once switched on, stay on so you always know where your pooch is.
Good canine camping etiquette
Here at Southfork Caravan Park we have always welcomed dogs and pride ourselves on being completely dog-friendly, the only thing we do ask is that you practice good dog camping etiquette by ensuring that you are a responsible dog-owner by not allowing your dog to wander off into others’ camps. Most people love to see dogs when camping, even if they are not dog-owners themselves, however what won’t be appreciated is dog waste or stolen food when they return from a long day out!
Southfork Caravan Park has an enclosed dog area on-site and dogs are welcomed throughout the park. Due to our unique location within the Somerset Levels, we are surrounded by some of the most amazing and scenic locations which make for a perfect doggy day out. A list of some of the best walks can be found on our Walking in Somerset page, we are also close to one of the main sections of the River Parrett Trail - which recently had an exciting relaunch.
For any queries regarding staying at Southfork Caravan Park and camping or touring with your dog, please contact us online via www.southforkcaravans.co.uk or on 01935 825661. Booking and availability can also be viewed online.