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Tent camping with a dog

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I'll be traveling from Minneapolis to Seattle, and would like to drive/tent camp through Canada with my dog in early June. Will we freeze? Will we find available campsites (allowing dogs) near Banff and Lake Louise? Is it safe to tent camp with a dog? (- thinking bears, here) Any suggestions, even basic information would be appreciated! Thanks much.

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    Welcome!

    In early June, temperatures in Banff/Jasper can range from below freezing to +20c. Not all campsites are open - opening dates range from early May to mid June. So you need to have a good sleeping bag, pad and warm clothes.

    In general, dogs are allowed at any of the front-country campsites in Jasper or Banff. However, dogs MUST be on a leash or in your vehicle at all times - the only exception would be in the off leash parks in Jasper and Banff townsites.

    The dog also must be in the tent or car with you at night and can never be left unattended even if tied up. In Jasper, there has been at least one incident where a tied up dog was killed by a cougar.

    I think it's generally OK to tent with a dog, but with some caveats.

    Depending on where you are, there's a very real chance of bears, cougars, wolves and or elk going through or near the campgrounds. Depends on the campground and the time of year. In early June, you're more likely to run into wildlife lower down as higher food sources will be snow-covered. Elk are a big issue at that time of year - female elk are calving and are VERY protective of their young. Best to avoid any areas with elk warnings or known elk presence if you have a dog.

    It is accepted that the presence of a dog, even leashed, can be a factor in causing an incident with wildlife, or making an incident worse. Harassing wildlife is illegal - and that can include a leashed/tented dog that continues to bark or lunge at wildlife.

    So it probably depends on your dog. To make it safe and enjoyable, your dog would need to be comfortable around animals/crowds and be controllable. A dog that will bark at or try to chase wildlife is likely to make your trip a real pain, and could result in fines and/or being asked to leave campgrounds. And since the parks will be busy, a dog who is uncomfortable around crowds could be problematic if you want to visit any of the top sites. Your dog would also need to be comfortable staying in the tent at night, and not trying to get out if wildlife comes by.

    Another factor to consider is that, pet stores aside, dogs are not allowed in any stores, restaurants, museums etc. here. (Also not permitted on some trails, mostly in Jasper NP). They are also not allowed on patios, though you can sometimes get away with tying the leash to the edge of the patio if you are sitting right there and the dog is not obstructing traffic and/or being aggressive to passers-by. And by then, it's generally too hot to leave a dog in the car alone during the day. If you are alone, that rules out going to museums or restaurants, and any shopping will have to be very quick (i.e. tie the dog up and run in to get take out or groceries).

    Which means you need to plan well - i.e. camp close enough to town for take out, or have a stove/equipment for cooking all your own food (should have a stove anyway, given that cooking over a fire may not be possible and is often not practical). And if the trip is more than a week or so, you probably need to find some pet friendly accommodation so you can get out once in a while to do laundry, get groceries etc. Many hotels are pet friendly, but you can't usually leave pets unattended unless they are kenneled. I've found that it's usually works to leave a pet kennelled/cage for up to 30-45 minutes as long as they don't bark/make noise, and you have the 'do not disturb' sign on the door.

    Note also that you will need to have proof that your dog is up to date on rabies and other vaccinations to cross the border. You should have the actual certificate (paperwork), not just the tag. We don't tend to have issues with fleas this far north, but ticks are an issue, so be prepared to do tick checks -for you and your dog. An if possible, have your dog on tick/flea treatment). Lyme is almost a non-issue in Alberta, but there are other tick borne diseases that can be an issue. And you'll want to have a kennel or cage if you stay in any fixed accommodation.

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