FOUR PAWS AND THE GREAT OUT­DOORS

Borgy’s exclusive guide to keeping those tails wag­ging out on the tracks.

Camper Trailer Australia - - CAMPING WITH DOGS - Words MICHAEL BORG Pics Tony Rabbitte & Matt Fehlberg

Some of my ear­li­est mem­o­ries in­clude camp­ing with dogs. I’ve still got pho­tos of a three-year-old Borgy us­ing the dog’s wa­ter bucket as a pool. Yuck! The good news is 30 years on and not much has changed; I don’t fit in the bucket any­more, but I still love get­ting out and about with my four-legged pals and hav­ing an ab­so­lute blast. Old Zara the Dober­man’s seen more of Australia than most people have and now she’s show­ing the ropes to new re­cruits – young Samp­son the shep­herd, and some­times my sis­ter's cat­tle­dog cross Hud­son. For me, there are plenty of good rea­sons to take the family dog camp­ing. Like when you’re try­ing to see how deep a wa­ter cross­ing is, I’ll usu­ally send the dog in for a dip. If she has to swim, my 4WD will prob­a­bly have to as well! Fetch­ing fire­wood and the odd beer from the ice­box have be­come the dogs’ chores around camp, and old Zara loves to pull the ca­noe out of the wa­ter af­ter a pad­dle, too. So, with all that in mind, it’s safe to say a dog can add a whole new dy­namic to camp­ing! While it’s not al­ways flow­ers and roses, I’ve def­i­nitely leaned a few tips and tricks to make things a tad eas­ier over the years. So let’s start with the ba­sics, shall we?

THE DOWN­SIDE OF DOGS

IT’S LIT­TLE things like whip­ping down to the shops or the pub on a hot day that can be­come a nui­sance with a dog. We all know na­tional parks are no-go zones, as are a whole lot of car­a­van parks, es­pe­cially around the more pop­u­lated tourist re­gions. The good news is that once you break free of the hus­tle and bus­tle the rules are a bit more re­laxed, with most state forests, state parks and farm stays be­ing dog friendly. I’ve al­ways found most coun­try pubs don’t mind hav­ing a friendly, well man­nered dog chill­ing out on the porch, ei­ther. If you want to ex­plore ar­eas that aren’t dog friendly, lo­cal board­ing ken­nels or vet clin­ics with board­ing fa­cil­i­ties can be found prac­ti­cally anywhere these days. Just be sure to keep your pets’ vac­ci­na­tions up to date to avoid be­ing turned away. An­other pop­u­lar op­tion is the old ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours'. Only in this case it’s ba­si­cally find­ing a trust­wor­thy friend on the road to take turns mind­ing the pooches while the other ex­plores, pet-free.

DOGGIE BOOT CAMP

It goes with­out say­ing that an un­trained or an­ti­so­cial dog can be a bloody night­mare to you and other campers, mean­ing these dogs usu­ally aren’t the best camp­ing com­pan­ions. Ba­sic obe­di­ence com­mands like “sit” “come” “lie down” and “stay” are an ab­so­lute must, but more im­por­tantly they need to do it re­li­ably when there are other dogs or people around. If they are any­thing short of per­fect, they should be on a lead to main­tain com­plete con­trol. Teach­ing the “leave It” com­mand is a big one in my books; it comes in real handy if they’re in hot pur­suit of some­thing dan­ger­ous, such as a snake or a dog bait. The other one is to stay in the car un­til you give the all clear; it’s nice be­ing able to ac­cess your lug­gage with­out them burst­ing out of the door! Teach­ing them to go toi­let on com­mand is also a nifty trick, and it saves a heck of a lot of time! An­other thing I’ve taught my two boof­heads is to come when you sound the car horn. Sounds funny I know, but if you get sep­a­rated from your dog they’ll hear your horn from much fur­ther away than they’d hear your voice. Trust me, it works!

Doggy dan­gers

WILD DOG baits, paral­y­sis ticks and snakes are a real con­cern for dogs in the bush. Ob­vi­ously, wild dog bait signs in­di­cate where baits have been laid, but baits can be moved all over the place by other an­i­mals, so al­ways keep an eye out. If you’re un­sure if your dog has in­gested a bait, look out for com­mon symp­toms. These in­clude anx­i­ety, fren­zied be­hav­iour such as run­ning or howl­ing, hy­per­sen­si­tiv­ity to sound or light, fail­ure to re­spond to you, vom­it­ing, uri­nat­ing and defe­cat­ing in­ap­pro­pri­ately, con­vul­sions and seizures. Paral­y­sis ticks are an­other prob­lem al­to­gether. Early de­tec­tion can re­ally pay div­i­dends, so it’s worth a daily check. Sim­ply run your hands firmly against your pet’s fur, es­pe­cially around the ears, armpits and stom­ach. If you feel any bumps, pull back the fur and check what’s there. Ticks can vary in size with the larger or en­gorged ones in­di­cat­ing they have been there longer. To re­move a tick, grasp it as close to the skin as pos­si­ble with a pair of fine-tipped tweez­ers. With a steady mo­tion, pull the tick out back­wards. Avoid crush­ing, touch­ing or al­low­ing a piece of the tick to break off as this can still cause in­fec­tion. If your dog shows signs of poi­son­ing, like wob­bly legs, vom­it­ing and laboured breath­ing, get him to a vet as soon as pos­si­ble. It goes with­out that say­ing flea and tick pre­ven­ta­tives are worth their weight in gold, and keep up to date with all their vac­ci­na­tions to help pro­tect against viruses en­coun­tered dur­ing your trav­els.

“A DOG CAN ADD A WHOLE NEW DY­NAMIC TO CAMP­ING”

THAT’S ALL FOLKS

If your dog lis­tens about as well as a hy­per­ac­tive fer­ret, then it’s safe to say they’ll prob­a­bly wind up be­ing a real nui­sance. At the end of the day, you’ll need to take the time to train your furry mate be­fore you can re­ally en­joy their com­pany out on the tracks. One thing’s for sure; when you get it right, it’s hard to imag­ine camp­ing with­out them.

Se­cur­ing your dog

IF YOU’RE at a car­a­van park or a busy camp­site, a dog crate is the best op­tion for se­cur­ing your mutt, es­pe­cially for smaller breeds. The amount of times I’ve had a lu­natic dog rush ag­gres­sively into my camp­site will blow your mind! A dog crate pro­vides se­cu­rity and buys you a bit more time to re­act in these sit­u­a­tions. For bush camp­ing, I run my 4WD’s winch ca­ble out to a tree and run a tether chain to the dog’s col­lar; it just gives her a bit more room to move. Use chain in­stead of rope; it hangs to the ground which pre­vents tan­gles and they can't chew through it. If you’re ty­ing them to the back of a ute, make sure the chain is ei­ther long enough for them to get all four paws on the ground, or short enough to pre­vent them from get­ting any legs over the edge. The last thing you want is the dog to slip off and not be able to touch the ground or climb its way back up. And never leave a dog chained up unat­tended – any­thing can hap­pen!

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