Written by Amie Chapman
One of the best things about puppy raising is watching my puppy experience new things and situations for the first time. Last week, we took a camping trip for a few days with my brothers, and of course we took the dogs along for the adventure.
Ricki has camped a couple of times before and she loved it.
Ozzy on the other hand has camped once when he was a puppy, and it wasn’t exactly the best experience for him. He had two bad encounters with other dogs, one where he was bitten in the face by another dog in our camping group, and the other being chased by another dog that somehow got loose from his campsite while we were on a walk. Luckily Eli was still with us and he actually protected Ozzy from getting hurt. This trip, I was determined to make sure that Ozzy had a better experience this time and that Patrick had a positive experience for his first time.
My oldest brother brought one of his dogs with him as well, and because Patrick takes a little time to be comfortable with dogs he doesn’t know, I was very prepared to make this a successful trip for everyone. We had a big enough tent to fit all three dogs and even Patrick’s new travel crate. Patrick actually really loves his crates and they are a safe place for him. We also brought enough exercise pens to set up around our tent to give Patrick enough space to have some freedom, but in a safe manner. We also had long tie-downs for all the dogs so the could still be close by us even when we needed to have free hands.
“Patrick really surprised me with how comfortable he was. He has always been a great traveler, but sleeping in the great outdoors is a totally different situation.”
Everything that we brought for the dogs paid off. They all had a great time and stayed safe.
Patrick at first wasn’t too sure about my brother’s dog, Bayon. Bayon is a cattle dog mix and does the full herding dog stare. Patrick is very uncomfortable with dogs that stare at him, and this is one of the things we know sets him off and causes him to bark. There was a little barking and growling from Patrick towards Bayon on the first night when we got to our camping site, but because we were prepared to give Patrick enough space to feel comfortable and safe, by the second day he was much calmer around Bayon. Bayon turned out to be a great dog to have Patrick around and I think really helped him learn that not all dogs that stare at him are a threat. Bayon is a super calm dog and kept to himself for the most part, and by the second day Patrick was comfortable with being in the same space as him and wasn’t reacting to Bayon at all.
The highlight for all the dogs was that we were camping along a river.
Although it wasn’t very full, there was enough water for the dogs to play in, and in some spots it was deep enough for them to swim a little bit. Ricki loves to play in any type of water feature. Ozzy will play in water where his feet can still touch the ground, but he surprised us and even swam a little bit. Patrick has very limited experience with playing in water. He took to it right away but didn’t really swim, but he might have been too tall in the area that we were playing in.
We spent a lot of time playing down by the river, but we did do other things as well.
We walked all over the campgrounds, which were covered in tall redwoods and ferns. We also visited a lighthouse on the coast that wasn’t too far from where we were camping. And of course we did the normal camping things, like hanging out by the campfire and roasting marshmallows.
Patrick really surprised me with how comfortable he was.
He has always been a great traveler, but sleeping in the great outdoors is a totally different situation. We did have a family of raccoons that visited the site every night and we could hear them from our tent making chirping noises. Patrick did really well even when Ozzy was a little unsettled by our visitors. The first night I put Patrick in his kennel, but the second night he was so tired from all the activity during the day that he put himself to bed in his kennel before we turned in for the night. Patrick is never tired at home so this was a first. I did leave the door to his kennel open and when I turned in for the night he decided to sleep next to me, something he doesn’t normally get to do since he is not allowed on the bed. The last night, once again I left his kennel door open, and he decided to put himself to bed again and slept in his kennel.
This trip was definitely a positive one for Patrick.
We did everything we could to set Patrick up for success and it paid off. Strange dogs are still a difficult thing for Patrick, but we have learned how to introduce new dogs to him successfully. He is able to be comfortable a lot quicker by taking the extra steps to help make him feel safe. Every positive experience is a step in the right direction and his dog issue isn’t something that we can rush working through. We are learning what works for him and what doesn’t. I am very proud of how far he has come and hope that he will continue to improve as he matures.