Image via Budimir Jevtic/Shutterstock
By Elizabeth Xu
For many people, summer means travel. For many dogs, that means days or weeks staying in a dog boarding facility or in a family member’s home. But it doesn’t have to be that way. What if you and your pup could go away together?
If going off to camp was something you looked forward to when you were a kid, you’ll be happy to know that it doesn’t have to end just because you’re, well, an adult.
Camps for adults are definitely a thing, and some of them let you take your dog along, too. Don’t fret if your summer is already planned; these camps also offer fall sessions that you can sign up for now.
Dog Camp Basics
Forget your preconceived notion of dog camps—these aren’t the camps where you leave your dog while you go on vacation. While your pup no doubt enjoys interacting with other canines at doggy camp, these camps are more about you and your pup having fun while training and bonding.
At these camps for adults, you’ll do activities and bunk together with your pup. You’ll also meet plenty of other campers and their dogs.
“People come to dog camps for many reasons, from bonding with their dogs, learning new ways to train, refreshing their training skills or spending time with other ‘crazy dog people,’” says Mare Potts, camp director at Camp Gone to the Dogs.
Will your dog enjoy a camp experience? Only you can answer that, but Kayla Fratt, an associate certified dog behavior consultant and owner of Journey Dog Training in Colorado, says that many do.
“Most dogs that are excited about life and confident will probably enjoy a summer camp-esque experience,” she says. “However, if your dog has behavior concerns, is shy, or is easily stressed, summer camp might not be a good option. Ensure that you pick the right summer camp option for your dog.”
Are you and your pup ready to enjoy some fun at a dog camp? Here are three dog camp options in the United States that you and your pup can attend.
Image provided by Camp Unleashed
If you have a 9 to 5 office job and feel that both you and your pup could benefit from more time outdoors, Camp Unleashed might be just what you’re seeking. This dog camp has locations in Becket, Massachusetts and Cleveland, Georgia. They both offer activities on land and on the water. Hiking, dock diving, swimming, canoeing and scent games are just a few of the things you can enjoy together. When your dog needs to rest, you can check out activities like arts and craft sessions or classes on dog nutrition.
Eileen Brown, logistic director and Camp Unleashed co-owner, says that many of the sessions focus on helping humans “look at the world through their dog’s eyes.” As such, this camp is big on positive reinforcement.
“The dogs choose if and when they are ready to try something new,” Brown says. “If canoeing, for example, is not their thing, they are not forced into it. We hope to train the humans to read the dog's language and understand their comfort level and how confident/comfortable they are.”
She says that their Massachusetts camp, in particular, sees a lot of city dogs that simply enjoy “the freedom of being out in nature.”
To learn more check out Camp Unleashed’s website.
Canine Camp Getaway of NY
Image provided by Canine Camp Getaway
Janice Costa, owner and founder of Canine Camp Getaway of NY, says dog camps help humans escape the technology and multitasking of everyday life. “A dog camp like Canine Camp Getaway is a chance to escape from all of that, to enjoy life like a kid again—and our dogs show us how, since they’re so great at being in the moment.”
Canine Camp Getaway of NY is located in Lake George at the Roaring Brook Ranch. This dog camp offers a variety of dog and human activities, from dog yoga and nose work classes to “ask the trainer” sessions and karaoke.
They also offer educational seminars led by veterinarians and professional dog trainers, and a variety of other dog training and activity workshops, including a prep and testing course for the Canine Good Citizen or therapy dog exams. For added fun, there’s also a nightly “yappy hour” and a “casino night” that benefits animal charities.
Costa says that pool time is always enjoyed by the dogs and their humans.
“Swimming in the dog-friendly pool is always a popular activity, and it’s great fun to see the leaping Labs and Goldens who just never want to leave,” she says. “Of course, we have separate pool sessions for the small dogs so they don’t have to worry about being knocked over by an overly exuberant Lab.”
To learn more, check out Canine Camp Getaway of NY’s website.
Camp Gone to the Dogs
Image provided by Camp Gone to the Dogs
Vermont-based Camp Gone to the Dogs offers two camps—a summer camp in Marlboro and a fall camp in Stowe. Both locations offer a myriad of activities that are fun and educational for both dogs and people.
Potts says some favorite activities are herding, agility, hiking and canine freestyle dance. This dog camp not only offers activity classes for the dogs, but also educational classes for dog owners. You can take a class on “Reading a Dog’s Body Language” or attend a lecture held by dog training professionals Sue Sternberg or Tim Lewis.
“The dogs love training with positive trainers who help their humans improve their understanding of dog behavior,” says Potts. “The dogs enjoy learning a new activity and being positively rewarded. It’s awesome to see the light turn on for a dog in an activity that the camper never thought they would like, and then to see them continue to have success and return the next year showing how much they’ve learned.”
To learn more, check out Camp Gone to the Dogs’ website.
Is Dog Camp for You?
You know yourself (and your pup) best, so if you’re both outgoing, active and up for new experiences, chances are you and your pup will enjoy attending one of these camps for adults and dogs. In addition to learning new tricks and training ideas, you and your dog will strengthen your bond, too.
“Spending more time training your dog is a great way to deepen your relationship,” Fratt says. “You don’t often get to just spend a whole weekend focusing on training your dog and learning about how to care for her.”