You could say I’m a little dog crazy. I love those little four legged fluff balls like they are my own children (they are though right?!). My wee Chihuahua Bonzo is five and his sister Bean the Pomeranian is a crazy four year old. Last summer we embarked on a two week camping with dogs trip around the South Island of NZ, and I couldn’t recommend it more!
We were truly camping with dogs. No fancy Campervans or cabins for us, it was all about our instant pop up Kmart tent, a blow-up bed and a ‘solar shower’. Everything we needed for ourselves and the dogs had to fit within my much loved Nissan Cube. In short, despite the room for error, the trip was a total success. I’m already planning my next one and thought I could share a few of my tips with the world.
Ensure the car is comfortable: our trip involved us being on the road for long periods at a time, to make this as comfortable as possible for the dogs we ensured there was a large clear space in the back seat for them to stretch out, snooze and watch the passing scenery. To the left of their space, we securely piled the duvets and blankets high so they could see over the back of the seats if they wanted to, this is where they spent 99% of the car ride. They wore their harnesses and we ensured they were securely attached to the car via belt buckle or grab handle on the roof of the car.
Toilet breaks: Bonzo and Bean are well toilet trained, so we knew they could go a for a while without taking a toilet break if necessary. That being said, we stopped every 30-50 minutes anyway to stretch our legs, check out the local scenery or take a photo or two. We ensured we offered fresh water at each stop. Carrying 5L of water with us, specifically for this purpose.
Feeding times: On travel days we’d tend to feed three small meals, one in the morning, one when we stopped for lunch and one when we arrived at our destination. This ensured their stomachs were never too full but they didn’t go hungry! This helped combat any car sickness that may have occurred after two straight weeks on the road. We chose to feed Sunday Pets Tasty Holistic Grain Free Small & Medium Adult food during our trip. Feeding a quality food that stored well and ensured optimum nutrition for the pups was very important to us.
Boredom busting tip: Bonz and Bean loved this food so much we filled their Kongs with it or scattered them around the camp site to make feeding time that little bit more interesting!
“Dogs must be on a lead at all times”: Every campsite we visited had this rule, understandably. The best accessory we purchased for our trip was a dog stake and two cables. The 4m length cable lead ensured our dogs were free to roam around our camp site when we were relaxing in the evening or eating. We spent so much time exploring and adventuring, so when we were at the campsite they were sleeping anyway!
Sleeping: at home Bonzo and Bean sleep in their crate, but on the trip we caved and they were in the bed with us! Having a collapsable crate with us was extremely helpful though, especially when we were camping in the middle of nowhere in Te Anau and the Possums decided to spend the night rustling around the tent and calling from the trees! We simply popped the crate up in the car, placed a blanket over the top and the dogs slept soundly. Crate training is a LIFE SAVER!
Finding places to stay: I’m a big planner, so had spent weeks researching campsite on the Rankers app beforehand. You can choose ‘pet friendly’ and finding accomodation really is that easy!
HAVE FUN! I have literally never appreciated my little nuggets this much before. They loved every minute of this adventure. They were so well behaved, made a bunch of friends and saw some amazing places (Queenstown, we’re coming for you!). If you get the chance, I highly recommend camping with dogs.