Easy Animal Outings: Malibu Creek Camping (With My Dog Max!)
My little Beagle Max and I love to play outdoors. In our yard, at the dog park, and even on hiking trails, we have a great time exploring together.
But I always have the thought of “oh, we have to get home soon” on my mind when I’m out with Max, so I never feel truly relaxed. After talking about this with some dog-owning friends including Helen, founder of Hi5dog.com, my best friend, they suggested we all go on an overnight camping adventure… with our dogs!
And that is how Max and I ended up spending just over 30 hours at Malibu Creek State Park with some friends. Here’s what we did - and why I think you and your pup should try it, too!
Quick Guide: The Beginner's Dog And Owner Camping Packing List (Infographic)
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What Is Malibu Creek State Park?
Malibu Creek State Park is located just 35 miles outside of downtown Los Angeles, where I live, so me and Max thought this would be the perfect place to try camping together for the first time. My friends were excited to come along with their pet, so we started planning a few weeks in advance.
The park itself is amazing, though I had never explored the campground areas of it before this trip. There are 7,000 acres in the pack, and many trails that you can follow. One trail will even take you out to the set where MASH was partially filmed, but I haven’t gone there yet!
The area of Malibu Creek State Park camping facilities include 63 different camp sites as well as other useful amenities:
- Picnic tables
- Fire rings
- Coin showers
- Dump station
- Flush toilets
These amenities make camping easy, especially for those who aren’t yet ready to have to use the bathroom in the woods or bath in a creek. Not all of us are made for natural living, after all!The park also has seven total trails that I believe are worth checking out, but there are even more secret areas that you can explore in this Los Angeles oasis.
What Are The Rules About Pets At The Campground?
It’s important to always learn about the dog rules for any camping ground you’ll be visiting, so I checked those out as well. There are goods and bads about bringing your dog out for Malibu Creek camping, but I found it to be a great experience overall.
Your dog is permitted in all parking, campgrounds, and picnic areas. They must be on a leash at all times. At night, your dog must be kept inside your tent or RV, which I was planning to do anyways!
Dogs, unfortunately, are not allowed on the backcountry trails at Malibu Creek State Park. My dog isn’t a great hiker just yet, so I was OK with this, but my friends said they usually prefer to travel farther to visit some trails where their dog can hike.
Since we were only staying out for one night, I didn’t see this to be a huge drawback, as we could have a great time with our dogs at the campgrounds!
Max And I Ate Goooood!
One of the best parts about camping, in my opinion, is eating! There’s something extra fun about preparing your own food.
At Malibu Creek, you cannot burn wood, which might confuse you since I said that fire rings are available. And that is because you are allowed to use charcoal! It’s still possible to prepare many delicious foods on this, so we brought a variety of foods that can be cooked over charcoal and foods that don’t need cooking at all.
What The Humans Ate
For dinner, we wanted to put together a variety of unique and delicious foods. While most were not common camping foods, they tasted great anyways!
We also brought some hot dogs and hot dog buns in case we got hungry for this classic camping trip, but we ended up keeping them in the cooler and not using them.
In the morning, we prepared a small brunch feast to get ourselves moving:
As you can see, we had a great time eating! I loved everything we made, and it was smart of us to pre-plan our meals so that we did not overpack. I recommend doing the same!
What The Dogs Ate
For the most part, our dogs ate what they eat at home. I simply packed up pre-portioned amounts of his food for the number of meals he would be missing away from home. I also brought 6 extra cups of food. If anything would have happened to extend our stay, I would have been able to feed Max.
But since he would be doing more than usual, I knew I should bring along some extra treats, protein, and water to ensure that he would be comfortable.I actually brought some pieces of salmon for my dog because he gets this treat from time to time at home. I knew the protein boost would be good for Max after a day of excitement away from home!
Another great treat to bring for your dog are dog jerky treats, which have a lot of protein and healthy fats in them. This type of energy is very good for your dog.
Make sure that you only bring foods that your dog is accustomed to eating. You never know what type of reaction your dog will have, so you want to be sure it’s something their body can handle since you’ll be away from home for some time.
The Overnight: Not As Scary As You Might Think!
The part of this adventure that I was most worried about was the actual overnighting at the Malibu campground. We were planning to sleep in tents, and I knew this would be overwhelming for Max as he had never seen or been inside of a tent before.
Here’s what to do:
Get your dog familiar with your tent before you go camping!
I set mine up in the yard, and I put his dog bed inside to give him an idea of what it would be like. He was totally crazy inside of it at first - sniffing everything and running back and forth like crazy.
I actually left the tent up for a few days so that he could learn that it is a normal place to be. By the time we had the tent set up in the campground, Max couldn’t care less about it, which is just what I wanted!
The Overnight Routine
Different dog owners have different methods of camping with their dogs. Some have tents made just for their dogs. Others keep their dogs in the tent with them, like me and my dog Max.There are even owners that prefer to have their dogs sleep outside of their tents. While I love this idea in theory because Max was definitely a bit dirty and smelly by the end of the day, I didn’t feel comfortable with him being outside by himself.
I found that having Max inside the tent with me was the most comfortable ways, and my friends did the same with their dog.I have a pretty large sleeping bag, and Max usually shares my bed with me at home. So, I figured he would want to sleep in the sleeping bag with me, but I put a blanket out right next to me for him as well. He ended up sleeping on the blanket, and seemed to be very comfortable there.
If it’s your first time camping, you might have a hard time falling asleep because it can be a bit spooky to be out in the wilderness. Try to take deep breaths, pet your pup, and remember that you’re here to relax - so do it!
When you wake up in the morning to a beautiful outdoor site and your faithful dog at your side, you’ll know that you made the right choice.
I found that having my friends (who are more experienced campers) with me made the whole experience much more comfortable. If you have any friends who love to camp, try setting up a group trip so you can learn from their experiences.
5 More Important Tips For Camping With Your Dog
These five tips are really essential for you and your pup to know before you go camping together. I knew some of this before going on my trip, but a lot of it was learned from my experience.
Don’t be like me - prepare for all of these things before you go so you can have the best trip ever!
1. Make Sure Your Pet Is Up-To-Date on Flea, Tick, And Other Pest Protection
You’ll be bringing your dog into a situation where they might become annoyed or affected by outdoor pets. Make sure that your dog is appropriately vaccinated and protected from pests.
Even if you’re in an area like Malibu Creek State Park camping, you never know what pests may have found their way there.
2. Put Everything Away At Night - Including Your Pet’s Food & Water!
You may be used to leaving your dog’s water and food out all night so they can get a drink, but this is not a good idea when there may be other animals such as bears, raccoons, or more in the area. Pack it away to avoid any problems at the Malibu campground.
3. Train Your Pup To Wear A Backpack
I didn’t do this with Max, but I think he would have loved it! My friends have a little doggie backpack for their pooch, and he loves it! He carries his own treats and food in the backpack, making it easier for everyone while you’re making your way to a campground.
As always, make sure to get the right type of backpack and condition your dog to wear it before your next adventure. If not, you can cause dangerous blisters or pains to your dog, and nobody wants to accidentally hurt their pooch.
When loading a pack, you will want to put most of the weight (i.e. any water) low and over your pup’s shoulders, as this is where it will be most secure. Make sure the harness is proper and fits correctly to avoid unnecessary injury.
4. Get Your Dog In Shape
Is your dog a couch potato? I always thought Max was pretty healthy, but I realized during our trip that he seemed to be getting tired relatively quickly while playing outside.
Make sure that your dog is up to the physical activity. Even if you won’t be hiking a far distance to your campground, it can be hard on dogs to be outdoors for long periods of time if they are not used to it. Be aware of this before camping together.
5. Beware Of The Bark
Max is still pretty young, and Max sometimes gets into a barking mood! Thankfully this mood didn’t strike until we were on our way out of camp, but I realized right then that if he had been barking the night before, he would have disturbed everyone in the area.
If your dog is an incessant barker, don’t bring them out to public campgrounds until their barking is under control. A bark can carry a lot farther than you think!
Should I Take My Dog Camping, Too?
Before you head out on your first overnight camping trip with your dog, consider if you and your dog are ready for this type of adventure.
There are a few key traits that you and your dog should develop before you overnight away from home in the wilderness:
- Make sure the bond between you and your dog is strong. Loyalty goes a long way on a trip like this!
- Leash train your dog. Some areas of the campground require a leash, and you need to be able to keep your dog under control.
- Make sure that your dog is well socialized. There may be other dogs in the campgrounds, and you should be sure that your dog will be comfortable with other dogs around.
- Try hiking first. Visiting trails with your dog will give you an idea of how they will react to a new, outdoor environment and help you prepare for your camping trip.
In addition to these characteristics, you also need to know what to pack! I’ve put together the ultimate dog and owner camping packing list below.
Let’s Go Camping!
Are you ready to try out some Malibu Creek State Park camping at this Malibu campground? This is a great place to try out your first overnight camping trip with your dog. If you both end up loving it, who knows how far away your next adventure will take you!
While this article should give you an understanding of what it takes to go camping with your dog, please remember that it is not an all-inclusive guide to working with your dog outdoors. Every dog is different, so you need to remember that when working with your dog.
Do you have any more tips or questions about camping with your dog? Let me know in the comments - Max and I would love to hear from you!