Travelling with Pets

Michael Borg — 28 May 2015

Dogs have been sharing our campsites as protectors and companions for years. In fact, camping with our four-legged friends is something that’s been done since the domestication of dogs way back in the hunter/gatherer days.

For the modern camper, taking the dog along can be a little bit difficult as not all campsites are dog-friendly. Plus, when it comes to packing and planning an offroad adventure, it can add a whole new dynamic (and set of issues) to the mix.

To help make your next getaway more enjoyable and hassle-free, we’ve put together everything you’ll need to know to take your dog camping.


There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to travelling with dogs, with safety being at the top of the list. Dogs don’t understand that you need to concentrate on the road and can become a bit of a distraction while driving. Plus, they could even become a missile in the event of an accident.

While shielding your animal from bad weather and dangerous temperatures is reassuring, keeping your pet inside can actually be more dangerous to you, as the driver, if they’re not properly restrained. Collapsible dog crates are a great option for safe transportation, and can double as a kennel when you arrive at camp. Harnesses are also available to secure your pet to the back seat — although they can take a bit of time for the dog to get used to.


More than 5,000 dogs are injured or killed each year by falling from moving vehicles, but there are a few things you can do to minimise the chances of this happening. A dog crate or cage secured to the tray is the safest method when using a ute but, if you plan on simply tying up the dog, there are a few things to remember.

The correct length of the lead is crucial to your pet’s overall safety. You’ll need to make sure the dogs back legs can’t slip over the edge of the tray when turning around, moving or trying to jump off. So make sure the chain is long enough for him to sit or lie down, but not long enough for him to jump off the side. Also, the elements can wreak havoc on your pet if precautions are not taken — excessive heat can cause the ute’s tray to bake and burn your dog’s paws and, with no roof available, your dog is vulnerable to direct sun, rain and excessive wind, so appropriate measures to create a shelter and shade are a must.


Wild dog baits are a concern for your dog, so it’s important to keep an eye out for dog bait warning signs, which are usually displayed in the area. However, baits can be moved around by other animals so it’s wise to keep your dog on a lead or under close supervision at all times. Symptoms usually appear within roughly 30 minutes to two hours, and you should contact your vet if you notice any of the following symptoms.

  • Anxiety
  • Hypersensitivity to sound or light
  • Failure to respond to owner
  • Frenzied behaviour such as running or howling
  • Convulsions and seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Urinating and defecating inappropriately
  • Convulsions and seizures
  • Difficulty breathing


Paralysis ticks are bad news for dogs and, unfortunately, being quite common means they are a real concern. Wobbly legs, laboured breathing and vomiting are the warning signs but, as infection can take up to 24 hours to occur ,it’s wise to check your dog every day, even if symptoms are not showing. Run your hands against your pet’s fur and feel for any bumps, especially around the ears, arm pits and stomach.

Ticks can vary in size, and if you find one that’s large and engorged, it usually means it’s been there longer. To remove, grasp the tick as close to the dog’s skin as possible using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers. With a steady motion, pull out the tick 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, take it to a vet immediately. 


It’s always a good idea to have somewhere you can tie up your dog around camp, especially if there are other dogs or campers nearby. While a length of chain will do the job, why not give your dog a bit of extra space to stretch his legs and safely roam the camp? You can do this by simply unwinding your vehicle’s winch cable or rope and attaching it to a tree on the other side of camp. Then, attach a few metres of light chain to the cable so the dog can walk along the line.

As always, make sure there’s plenty of shade and water available, and don’t run the cable where people walk or drive. In fact, this is just another reason to swap out the old winch cable for some Dyneema rope — not only is it safer to use during winching, it’s much brighter and easier to see when strung out around camp, too! 

Pet packing list

  • Food bowl
  •  2 x leads
  •  Water and water bowl
  •  Food in sealed container
  •  2 x collars
  •  Camp tie up chair
  •  Chew toy
  •  Dog waste bags
  •  Dog bed
  •  First-aid kit
  •  Dog coat
  •  Any medications required
  •  Identification tags
  •  Tarp – for creative shelter anywhere you need it

Check out the full feature in issue #89 June 2015 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine.


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