You want to go camping with your whippet, but you’re not sure how to do it. We thought we would share with you some of the most useful things you need to bring with you in order to guarantee that your first trip away will be enjoyable and fun!
Tie out stake and cable.
The number one thing that you must take when you go camping with whippets is a ground stake and tie-out cable. Why? Because dogs are not allowed off lead on campsites. Unless you take your pooch with you into the shower and everywhere else, this really is your only option. This is especially true if you are camping on your own (as I did). A campsite is a whole new environment for your dog and Coco certainly doesn’t feel as safe and secure there. He would howl if left inside, but has gradually got used to being left outside the tent. Make sure you get a stake with a good handle, because on tough soil it can be hard to get in the ground.
The second most important thing to take when you go camping with whippets is a bed, or something for your dog to sleep on. Why? Firstly, so that they can feel at home in this new environment. On a practical note, you also want to keep the tent as clean as possible. Coco has been trained to walk straight from the entrance and onto his blanket in the small tent. In the larger tent, he walks straight into his basket and this helps keep the trail of mud to a minimum. I tend to line Coco’s bed with a large towel to soak up the worst of the mud. I would also recommend getting a bed that can be easily cleaned.
You could, of course, clean your dog’s paws before entering the tent, but it is not the most practical solution. This will become obvious when you realise just how many times you go in and out throughout the day. In bad weather, you want to get into the tent as quickly as possible. If you have space for a big bed, I would also recommend getting a bed that has high sides. These are really good for keeping your hound warm on those freezing cold nights. Ours, seen in the picture, is lined with fleece for extra warmth.
The third thing to consider before you go camping with whippets is that you are going to be sleeping with just a thin sheet of fabric between you and the outdoors. Let’s face it, your skinny hound is simply not built for cold weather! You don’t want your dog shivering and whining through the night, so a pair of pyjamas is a must. We use a short sleeved t-shirt for cool summer nights and a long sleeved suit for the freezing cold ones. That, and lots of warm blankets, has seen us comfortably through some of the coldest of nights Snowdonia has to offer. From early summer through to late autumn. Check out the DG Doggear collection on our website for some snuggly jumpers for being in the tent. There’s also some very practical outerwear for when you’re on the hills.
A raised food bowl-stand.
We found that a raised food bowl stand is an absolute must when we take Coco camping. The last thing you want when you’re inside the tent is to accidentally kick the bowls and spread the contents all over the floor. And there are slugs, so if you are using the bowls outside the tent, you avoid them getting into the bowls too soon. Don’t leave the food in the bowl for too long, you’d be surprised how fast they move! We use this collapsible food stand in the picture, it comes apart for easy transport in the car. Don’t leave lightweight items like this outside the tent when you’re out for the day, however. The weather tends to change rapidly in the mountains and it will most likely have blown away before you return.
A floor mat.
Another must-have when you go camping with whippets is an absorbent mat just inside the entrance of the tent. I think the picture speaks for itself, but soaking up those muddy paw prints before your whippet gets fully inside the tent makes your camping experience so much more enjoyable. If you are in a big tent, you will most likely have a tent carpet and you don’t want that getting too muddy. Ours is huge and I can’t imagine a more difficult item to clean. This way, however, the carpet just needs a good shake and it’s good to be put away until the next trip.
Make sure you never leave home without that tick remover, like we did! It’s no good sitting in the cupboard at home, when you need it the most. Luckily, we found a farmer with a lifetime’s worth of experience in removing ticks just with his fingers. Not my idea of bliss, but if you’re not squeamish and you know what you’re doing – then using your hands is absolutely fine. Be vigilant in areas that are prone to ticks, however. We found a large tick on Coco a couple of weeks after we’d returned home from Snowdonia. I suddenly wished that our lovely farmer with his magic hands was nearby. The tick remover is one to always keep in your first aid bag.
Another important thing to consider when you go camping with whippets is where you are going to store the food. If you keep it inside the tent, and without appropriate storage, this will attract slugs. Waking up one morning with the biggest, fattest slug known to mankind under my sleeping bag (not the most pleasant way to wake up), made me address that. The best options is to keep the food in the car or in a secure container elsewhere. The food could obviously also attract foxes, badgers etc – and if you are somewhere like the US or Canada you are no doubt fully aware of the dangers of attracting bears – so do think about this before you leave. It doesn’t have to be a fancy container like the one pictured – just anything that can keep the food dry and away from wildlife would work.
I’m sure, if you’ve ever camped, you’ll be aware of the need for a head torch to walk around the campsite in the dark. When you bring your hound camping, a good head torch really is a must because dogs are not allowed to foul on the campsite itself, so every morning and night you will have to take your whippet for a short stroll to a nearby and dedicated area where the dog is allowed go about it’s business. Doing that in the dark is not only scary, but without any means of seeing where you’re going, it simply isn’t an option. I use this torch by Petzl – and to my knowledge they make the very best head torches on the market. They have a torch for every occasion too – anything from camping to climbing Everest. Go get one!
Someone asked me what I did to make sure Coco was kept in the shade on hot and sunny days. To be honest, it’s not something that is often a problem if you are camping with whippets in Wales! If it is hot and sunny you’d probably not want to spend those precious sunshine hours on the campsite. You may be having a rest day, however, or you could (God forbid) just be having amazing weather. If so, then there’s a couple of things that will get you out of trouble.
First, get a tent with an awning. If there’s nothing else on the campsite, or near your tent, to provide shade then this will be your hound’s number one place to stay out of those hot rays of the sun. Second, consider getting a tent with a darker interior or one with a blackout sleeping compartment. If you have a big tent and in a dark colour like ours (above), then it is likely that inside your tent will be the coolest place for your dog to be. Most tents, however, are not designed with this in mind, so the awning is probably your best option.
This last item is really one for the humans, but I had to mention it because the number one item I always bring if I’m car camping is a pair of short wellies. Campsites are generally on very long grass, so unless you’re camping somewhere that’s always hot and sunny, the grass can get very damp overnight and if it’s been raining, well you’re stuffed. Why? Because if you’ve walked around in your hiking shoes in that damp grass, they will be drenched. You’ll then end up spending the whole day with soaking wet feet in the mountains. Not a good place to be. For your feet, that is. I own a pair of these short wellies by Le Chameau and they’re probably the most used item in my wardrobe.
I will be writing another blog post with a lot of useful tips for how to go hiking with your dog soon too, so do keep an eye out for future blog posts.
If you have any other questions about camping with your dog do hop over on our instagram account and send us a DM there.