When it comes to going camping with your dog, practice makes perfect. Helping your pup get used to the idea of an outdoor trip will make things more enjoyable for you and your campsite neighbors.

When it comes to going camping with your dog, practice makes perfect. Helping your pup get used to the idea of an outdoor trip will make things more enjoyable for you and your campsite neighbors.

Four weeks before your planned vacation, start taking your dog on day trips and bringing along whatever equipment he'll be using on the real trip - his bowls, his bed and his backpack if he's going to wear one. Help him become acclimated to the activities he'll be enjoying - walking, hiking, long drives and quiet time.

"Camping with your dogs can be a lot of fun," said Sandy Chiaramonte, state parks spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. "But it also comes with responsibility to clean up and properly dispose of their excrement, keep them under control at all times and respect other campers' right to camp in a quiet, natural environment."

Speaking of quiet time, to make sure your dog is used to sleeping under the stars, some experts suggest pitching a tent in your backyard at least a week before your first outdoor experience.

Place your dog's bed alongside you and give him positive attention for joining you. It's not necessary to spend the whole night outside at this point - just spend some time reading or listening to music.

Also, since your pet will have to be leashed and under control at all times during the camping trip, make sure he can't get tangled in the tent pegs.

Dogs have been allowed in camping-designated areas at Ohio's state parks since 1982, but these days many parks have even more to offer your pet. Some parks, including Alum Creek, A.W. Marion, Deer Creek, Harrison Lake and Lake Alma, offer designated dog swim areas. And dog parks where pups can run and play off-leash are offered at Alum Creek, Grand Lake St. Mary's and Lake Alma.

Camping-with-dog necessities include a first-aid kit, up-to-date vaccinations, portable water sources and booties if the trails are rugged.

"Planned activities during the camping trip should be conducive to including your dog, since they cannot be left unattended at your campsite," Chiaramonte added.

If you love nature, but not 24/7, some parks offer indoor dwellings, too. Dogs are welcome in select cottages at many parks, including these within easy driving distance of Columbus: Buck Creek, Burr Oak, Dillon, Hocking Hills, Mohican and Salt Fork. Dogs are also welcome in some guest rooms at the lodge at Geneva State Park, Chiaramonte said.

And skip the s'mores for dogs - chocolate is bad for them. How about a toasted Milk Bone?