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A Camper’s Best Friend: Don’t bring your Alarm Dog.

June 13, 2013

023Do you take YOUR dog camping? That question has been on my mind, and this past weekend at a busy Sam A. Baker State Park, I realized that there are dogs everywhere! Probably every other campsite had at least one dog, and I don’t think I had ever noticed how many there were before. So do you take your best friend with you when you head to the woods?


He used to be soooo cute…

I have been camping a lot, and up until the past couple of years, I was “Dog-Less”. We got Max in November of 2010, and like any Australian Cattle Dog (Red Heeler), he is not the kind of dog that we can leave at home. For one, he would go nuts cooped up in the house all by himself. Within two minutes he would have already eaten the pile of food in his bowl that we left for the entire weekend. After that, he would proceed to locate most of the dirty laundry and unprotected food items in the house, and spread them around/eat them, depending on how he felt at the time. And then he would spend the next couple days being generally nervous and impulsive. He isn’t the type of dog to be left home alone unsupervised.

But I also couldn’t leave him at home because I couldn’t bear to experience any camping trip without him. He is so loyal and I love having him around. Following me all over the campsite while I’m setting up gear or making food, bringing me his ball to throw every time I sit down to relax, deciding he’s a lap dog later in the evening while we enjoy the fire, and panting with the biggest grin whenever we hit some trail through the woods somewhere. The one time so far that I have left him at home was when I went to Lower Rock Creek this past March, but that was a decision that was made based on the freezing temperatures, and that somebody would be home to watch him. Camp life without him around is still fun, but he is part of the family, and he is MY best friend.

599606_10200846268019954_1370626736_nBut he isn’t perfect though. He doesn’t like anybody but me for the most part, and certainly not anyone he doesn’t live with. I like to say that it is the price I have to pay for him being such a loyal dog, but I have no illusions about how much of a jerk he can be at times. In fact, he has earned the nickname “Grumbles”. He growls at people that stick there hand out to give a sniff. He brings his tennis ball back to ME after ANYONE else has thrown it. He spikes up his ridge and barks at anyone that walks directly toward him. You can give him handouts from dinner all night, and he will still bark at you when you’re coming back to the fire from going to the bathroom. No matter how cute EVERYONE says he is, he still refuses to make friends. He isn’t trying to be mean and dangerous, but he is a nervous dog and is more scared of people than anything. So he acts like a jerk.

375753_2675353403831_1902267109_nNow he doesn’t bark that much (anymore), but that is because we are conscientious about it and we have a bark collar that corrects him when he is getting mouthy. A barking dog can really make a trip suck for more than just those at your campsite and whoever happens to walk past on the way to the shower house. There was a time that we were camping with friends who own dogs, before we got Max. It was Saturday morning and we were in our tent right behind their RV. The sun had already come up and we were slowly preparing to exit the tent and greet the beautiful new day. At least we would have been, had it not been for the fact that at least three (of the five!!!) dogs they had brought were barking all morning at anything and everything that happened to make any move within the general vicinity. It was awful, and in my irritation that was developing for the forty-five minutes I laid there before I got up, I also thought about how ALL the other people in the campground were probably rudely awakened too. Eventually security even stopped by and had to talk to them. Bad Dog Owner! Bad!

20130414_184518So you need to be aware of how your dog affects the experience for other people. If your dog is a loudmouth, you need to be able to leave him home or be able to take steps to control it. You may not even hear the baying of your beagle anymore because you are desensitized to it, but that cat person two sites down is going to be pretty angry when your little pup starts going off at the crack of dawn. I would be too (don’t even get me started on unruly kids making noise BEFORE quiet hours). Get a bark collar. Kennel the dog for the weekend. Something. And realize that the person aggravated at your cute little pooch is just there to have a fun time too…but YOU’RE responsible for ruining it. Be a conscientious dog owner.

1106You may love your best friend like I love mine. So as their master, do your best to show everyone around why he’s such a lovable guy, by having the awareness and understanding to take the steps to make it a positive experience for everyone, including him.

No matter how much the part of him that is Dingo tries to fight it.

  1. Thanks for saying things that need to be said, but I doubt if the people who really need to take notice of this will.

    • I hate to approach things from a negative angle…but when I get to a campground, I kind of go through an internal assessment of who the bad camper in the area will end up being. Sometimes everyone around is great, and sometimes it’s a whole group of obnoxious people. All we can do is conduct ourselves as we think others should be conducting themselves…AND set up the tent as far away from everyone as possible.

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  1. Camping Etiquette: Being a Good Neighbor. | Camping Missouri

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