Separation anxiety is an affliction that many dogs suffer with. Like any mental illness, its effects can be on a scale and can range from manageable to unbearable. As dog owners, it’s our responsibility to ensure our pets are the happiest and healthiest they can be. If you’re planning a camping trip and intend on bringing your anxious pooch along, it is possible to keep them happy and keep their anxiety at bay through both exposure and other tips and tricks.
Anxiety in Dogs
The term “separation anxiety” is one you’ve probably heard of in relation to dogs or any pets. Whilst there are other types of anxiety amongst animals, separation anxiety is the most common form found in dogs. Simply put, it’s the fear of being left alone by their owners. A lot of rescue dogs suffer from separation anxiety but it can appear in any dog at any age, regardless of their background or experiences. Anxious dogs can behave in many different ways from being destructive or withdrawn. The most common symptoms of anxiety in dogs consist of excessive panting, cowering, digging or trying to escape, and barking or howling when their owners aren’t home with them.
The chances are, if you own a dog, you’re probably already aware whether or not they suffer with anxiety based on their own behaviors.
Preparing to Camp with an Anxious Dog
Camping with any dog can face you with a challenge, especially in regards to whether or not they can be left alone in or around the tent. For dogs with anxiety, these troubles can be even harder to face and prepare for.
One of the best ways to prepare an anxious dog for a camping trip is to do a few trial runs in the garden. Set up the tent as you would do if you were away and see how well your dog copes with being in the garden for an evening or night with you. You might even find that they’re completely comfortable!
If your dog is stressed by the change, remain persistent and consistent. Make small changes if necessary to see what your dog does or doesn’t like. Would they rather sleep in the tent with you or in a kennel you were planning to bring along? Do they have comforts at home like blankets and toys which they would feel calmer with? A dog’s owners are their greatest comfort so providing you are with them and able to be there for them during the duration of your camping trip, there should only be little else you can do to ease their worries.
Even making sure that the environment will be comfortable for your pet is important. Making sure it won’t be too hot or too cold for your dog helps ensure their safety and can keep them feeling less anxious. Making sure the tent is the right temperature is important too, as they can get too hot or too cold incredibly quickly.
What to Bring
Camping with a dog is like camping with a friend or family member. Except, of course, they’re completely dependent on you and rely on you to bring everything they need. It goes without saying that it’s vital to bring your dog’s medications, food and enough water for them when you go camping. Doggy first aid bags are also a must, which usually include tick removers, antihistamines and animal bandages. If your dog is particularly anxious, it could also be beneficial to bring a thundershirt along for comfort. These weighted vests emulate a soft hug and bring comfort to worried dogs.
There are also some luxuries you can pack up for your pooch to keep them happy. Things like blankets with a familiar smell, some toys, and their favourite treats will be a good way of bringing the familiarity of home to the outdoors with them.
Give them their Space
Some dogs prefer their own space when they need to calm down. Oftentimes during storms or other frightening situations, dogs will seek out a quiet, secluded place to calm down when in the house. When camping, however, they should also have a safe place to chill if they ever feel they need it. If your dog is crate trained or has a kennel, it might be a good idea to bring it along. If your dog doesn’t like kennels or crates, simply setting some of their blankets down away from the hustle and bustle can give them somewhere to go when they need to take a break.
Stay With Them
As mentioned before, you are your dog’s home and comfort wherever you are. Staying with your dog and ensuring they aren’t left alone throughout your camping holiday will make them feel a lot more at ease and demonstrate that you are there for them if they ever need you. Of course, there will be times when you need to separate, if only for a few minutes, but it’s important to ensure that you’re with your canine companion as much as you possibly can whilst away on your trip.
Keep them Busy
Distraction is a powerful tool for anybody’s mind, and the same goes for dogs as well. Exercise is a great way to spend time whilst camping, whether it be through hiking or walking alongside your dog. Exercise will also tire them out, which will hopefully help them sleep easier and longer.