Woman and dog camping in tent

The Ultimate Guide to Camping with your Dog

Are you planning to take your furry friend on a camping trip? Camping with dogs can be a lot of fun, but it requires some preparation. To help you get started, we’ve put together some tips and tricks for camping with your dog.

Gearing Up Your Dog

The most important part of prepping your pup for a camping trip is bringing the proper equipment. It's important to have the appropriate gear to meet their needs and stay prepared for any emergency. Here’s a list of essential items to consider:

  • Collar and Leash: A sturdy collar and leash can keep your dog under control and prevent them from running off. Look for a collar that fits comfortably and securely around your dog's neck, and a leash that is long enough to allow them to explore but short enough to keep them close.
  • Harness: A harness can provide additional support and security for your dog, particularly if they tend to pull on the leash or are prone to escaping from their collar. Look for an adjustable padded harness that won't rub or chafe your dog's skin.
  • ID Tags: Make sure your dog is wearing an up-to-date ID tag with their name, your name, your phone number, and any other important contact information. This can help ensure a safe return if they get lost while camping.
  • Dog Backpack: A dog backpack can be a great way to give your dog a job to do while hiking or exploring, and can also provide extra storage space for their food, water, and other gear. It also provides you a chance to match camping outfits with your pup! Look for a backpack that is designed specifically for dogs, with adjustable straps and a padded back for comfort.
  • Dog Boots: Plan to do a lot of hiking? Is the terrain particularly rough or rocky? Consider investing in a pair of dog boots to protect your dog's paws from cuts, scrapes, and other injuries. Look for boots that are breathable and have a sturdy sole for traction. Remember to test them out before the trip and allow your dog to adjust to wearing boots.
    • Cooling Vest: If you're camping in hot weather, a cooling vest can help keep your dog comfortable and prevent them from overheating. Look for a vest that is lightweight, breathable, and easy to adjust.

  • Thermal Overalls: Alternatively, if you’re camping in cold weather, suit up your dog with thermal overalls to keep them warm. Make sure to measure your dog and refer to a size guide when browsing. You’d want to ensure the fit is snug but not too snug to restrict your dog’s movements. 

    • Sleeping Pad: Just like humans, dogs need a comfortable place to sleep at night. Consider bringing a lightweight, compact sleeping pad or bed that your dog can use in the tent, crate, or outside.
    • Portable Water Bowl: It's important to keep your dog hydrated while camping, but carrying a heavy water bowl can be cumbersome. Invest in a collapsible, portable water bowl that you can easily pack and carry with you on-the-go. 
    • Dog-Specific First Aid Kit: Just like humans, dogs can get injured or sick while camping. Pack a dog-specific first aid kit with items such as bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, and any necessary medications.
    • Tick and Flea Prevention: Along with the first aid kit, camping with your dog can expose them to a range of pests, including ticks and fleas. Pack appropriate tick and flea prevention medication in your kit, and check your dog regularly for signs of these pests.

    Finding Dog-Friendly Campgrounds

    Dog crate with dog in sprinter van

    Now that your pup’s all geared up, it’s time to search for potential camping spots. Look around your locality for a dog-friendly campground and see what you can find.  

    Keep in mind that not all campgrounds allow dogs, so asking around and learning what is and what isn’t allowed on the campgrounds beforehand is a must. 

    If you’re out of luck, websites like Hipcamp can help you find dog-friendly campsites. 

    Training Your Dog for Camping

    Before taking your dog camping, it's essential to make sure they have the right training to ensure they have a positive experience. Here are some training tips to help prepare your dog for camping:

    • Sleeping in a tent has its pros and cons. It’s a good idea to set up a tent in your backyard or living room and practice sleeping in it with your dog. If  This way, your dog can get used to sleeping in a confined space with you and won't be scared or anxious when you're out camping. If this is not for you consider having them sleep in their dog crate in the tent, outside, or in your vehicle so they are in a comfortable and secure sleeping location.  
    • Train basic obedience commands: Basic commands such as "sit," "stay," "come," and "leave it" are crucial for camping. You don't want your dog running after a squirrel or getting too close to a campfire. Make sure your dog is well-versed in these commands before going camping.
    • Socialize your dog: Camping often involves meeting new people and encountering other dogs. Make sure your dog is well socialized and comfortable around other dogs and strangers. You don't want your dog to become anxious or aggressive when encountering new situations. If your dog is anxious around other people or animals consider getting a dog vest with the label "do not pet" on it. This lets others know to respect your dog's space. 
    • Train your dog to walk on a leash: Camping involves a lot of walking and hiking, so it's crucial to train your dog to walk on a leash. Make sure your dog is comfortable on a leash and can walk for long distances. 
    • Practice leaving your dog alone: While you shouldn't leave your dog alone at the campsite, accidents can happen, however you may need to leave them alone for short periods. If you need to be away we recommend sturdy crate that can lock if needed.  Practice leaving your dog alone for short periods so they can get used to being alone without getting anxious or destructive.

    Keeping Your Dog Safe

    The great outdoors can be tempting for your dog, so it's important to keep them close and leashed. Most campsites require dogs to be kept on leashes no more than 6 feet long. Basic commands are also a must-know, just in case your dog gets too excited about their surroundings.

    Leaving your dog alone at camp can be stressful for them if they aren’t trained. It's best to take them with you when you go exploring, but if you can't, make sure they're safe and secure inside your tent or vehicle.

    What you also need to bear in mind is how you’ll bring your dog to the campgrounds. How long will the trip take? How well does your dog behave during road trips? Is your dog secured during the ride?

    If you’re planning to take a long road trip before camping, car safety still applies to your pup. For smaller breeds, pet crates accommodating their size is widely available. But if you’re an owner of a large dog, keeping your dog secured inside the vehicle might be a challenge. 

    Dog crates need to be sturdy and tough enough to withstand bumpy rides and accidents. If possible find a crate that has been crash tested and use top rated tie-down to secure it inside your vehicle. The Center for Pet Safety is great resource for keeping your pet safe on the road. 

    Other Tips for Camping with Your Dog

    Here are a few more tips to make your camping trip with your dog more enjoyable:

    • Iron out the best sleeping arrangement for you and your dog in advance. Practice if needed so your dog can get used to it. Let's face it, you and your dog want sleep while on vacation. 
    • Make sure your dog is up to date on their vaccinations and bring a copy of their records.
    • Get a nearby vet's phone number and learn where the closest vet clinics are in your area.
    • If your dog feels antsy inside the dog crate, toss soft and familiar objects inside to keep your pup calm and comfortable, like stuffed toys and blankets. 

    Camping with your dog can be a rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. With a little preparation and some basic supplies, you can have a fun and safe camping trip with your dog.


    * Feature Photo by Patrick Hendry

    * Image by <a href="https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/full-shot-smiley-woman-near-tent_7553701.htm#page=3&query=dog%20camping&position=2&from_view=search&track=ais">Freepik</a>

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