What It's Like to Go to Dog Scouts Camp

Dog Scouts Group Photo
Courtesy of Dog Scouts of America

Move over, kids. Scouting is no longer just for boys and girls. The Dog Scouts of America has troops and camps across the country. And just like their human counterparts, canine members can work toward accruing more than 80 badges for skills like sledding, painting, agility, backpacking, sign language, lure coursing and even improv. 

Chris Puls, the organization's current president, has raised five Scouts. "The dogs love all the different activities, which I wouldn't normally have access to," she says. "Everyone is friendly and wonderful. Every camp is like going back to a family reunion."

To see some of these intrepid pup scouts in action, check out our adorable gallery.

Meet the Dog Scouts of America

Dog Scouts Terri and Reese

Courtesy of Dog Scouts of America

Working Dogs Deserve Some Fun Too

Terri Tew and her service dog Reese hang out at camp in St. Helen, Mich. This Golden Retriever is a triple threat: He works as a guide dog, a mobility dog and a seizure-alert dog.

Dog Scouts Dock Dogs

Courtesy of Dog Scouts of America

Diving Dock Dogs

A pair of scouts practice for their Dock Dogs badge. Two canine campers who first learned dock diving at the Michigan camp went on to compete in national competitions.

Dog Scouts Badges

Courtesy of Dog Scouts of America

The 48-Badge Scout

This impressive cape belongs to Coyote, who is owned by Chris Puls, the president of Dog Scouts. The Australian Cattle Dog is now 12 years old and blind, but he has earned 48 badges for everything from distance frisbee to improv.

Dog Scouts Agility

Courtesy of Dog Scouts of America

Adventures in Agility

A Coton de Tulear works toward his agility badge at camp. The agility program has five steps, starting with a simple trio of obstacles and culminating in a full-blown competition course. "We stress that safety is key — let the dogs learn on their own level," says Puls. "We highly recommend that they take it slowly, build a good association with that obstacle, and not freak the dog out."

Dog Scouts Painting

Courtesy of Dog Scouts of America

Pups Who Have a Picasso Streak

Bear the Beagle wears a bootie dipped in paint, which he then swipes on the canvas to create art. The goal of the painting badge is to reinforce the "shaping method" of training, which encourages a dog to string together small components of a larger action. First the dog touches the canvas with his bare paw, then he accepts the bootie and the paint before finally smearing the paint onto the canvas. Voilá!

Dog Scouts Bonding

Courtesy of Dog Scouts of America

Do the Doggie Paddle

A camper enjoys some free time in the lake with her dog. The Puppy Paddler badge recognizes canines who swim parallel to or away from the shore, proving that they're not just trying to get out of the water.

Dog Scouts Hiking

Courtesy of Dog Scouts of America

Bark If You Have a Backpacking Badge

To earn the backpacking badge, Scouts have to log a total of six miles while carrying a pack of size-appropriate emergency supplies. These treks also educate their owners in the process about how to properly prepare for longer hikes.

Dog Scouts Kayacking

Courtesy of Dog Scouts of America

Canines Who Kayak

Campers practice for their kayaking badge. Each year after the summer session, many of the Scouts meet up at Au Sable River in Michigan to complete the badge.


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