One of the feelings that almost any dog owner is familiar with is wanting to take your dog everywhere. When I got my first puppy a couple of years ago, I didn’t ever want to leave her side or her to leave mine.
But when a scheduled camping trip was coming up, I feared I had to leave her for a couple of days. That was before I learned that as long as you’re prepared, you can bring your dog with you on a camping trip and it can be an amazing experience.
Ever since that first trip years ago, my dog and I head up to the campgrounds with friends and family annually. And in this article, I’ll be sharing with you everything I’ve learned about camping with your dog over the years.
From campground rules, medical requirements, and what to do when you’re at the campsite with your dog. So read on to learn more.
Why Is Camping With Dogs So Much Fun?
Dogs are animals that love the outdoors, and that’s a quality they share with a lot of humans. Going on a camping trip with your dog exposes them to a wide space, nature, and fresh air.
And aside from all of that, it also allows you to play around and form a strong bond with your dog. What’s not to love?
Before You Go Camping, Make Sure To Check The Rules & Regulations
A lot of preparation goes into bringing your dog on a camping trip, and one of the first things you have to do is check the rules that the campgrounds have on dogs. Here are a couple of tips you can use while doing that.
1. Check With Your Local Government Organization
Generally, campgrounds that have been developed nicely are friendly to dogs. But each area and place can have different rules and regulations.
So before you go ahead checking out the rules that individual parks and campgrounds have, make sure to check what your Local Government Organization’s policies are on traveling and camping with your dogs.
2. Research Dog-Friendly Campsites
Once you have a general idea of what your state’s policies are on camping with dogs, it won’t hurt to take a look at dog-friendly campsites. Not all areas will allow dogs, or if they do, they might have a set of requirements that need to be met, which could lead to some trouble along the way.
Are All Campsites Dog Friendly?
Not all campsites out there will allow dogs or can be considered friendly. But don’t worry, there are a whole lot of different parks and campsites out there that are accepting of dogs and pets.
However, they might have different regulations when it comes to leashes, barking ordinances, and dogs with aggressive behavior, so make sure to check that out.
To help you out a bit, here are the top 10 dog-friendly campsites in the United States.
- Kenlake State Resort Park, Kentucky
- Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware
- Mistletoe State Park, Georgia
- Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Florida
- Pedernales Falls State Park, Texas
- Lovewell State Park, Kansas
- Heyburn State Park, Idaho
- Cherry Creek State Park, Colorado
- Lemon Cove Village RV Park, California
- Apostle Island National Lakeshore, Wisconsin
For more information on the rules and fees that campsites have for dogs, you can check out this article.
3. Follow The Written & Unwritten Rules Of The Campsite
Campgrounds will have rules and regulations set for pets. This is to ensure the safety of all the other campers and for your dog as well.
Aside from the rules that were set by the campgrounds that you should be aware of before arriving at the site, there are also some unwritten rules and etiquette with pets that need to be followed.
Here are some common written campsite rules:
- Keep your dog on a leash at all times
- Don’t leave your dog unattended
- Pick up after your dog
- Keep your dog out of areas set for children
- Keep your dog from barking too much
Here are some examples of common campsite etiquette, or the “unwritten rules”:
- Don’t shout at your dog constantly
- Don’t let other families “adopt” your dog (this might lead your dog to think its okay to go visit other people at the campsite)
- Don’t ignore a barking dog
- Bag the waste that your dog leaves and dispose of it properly
Is My Dog Ready To Go Camping?
If it’s your first time camping with a dog, you might be wondering if your pet is ready for the experience. First-time camping trips can be fun and nerve-wracking at the same time, so it’s best to make sure your dog is ready before making plans.
Can I Take A Puppy Camping?
A newborn pup will not be ready for a camping trip. However, when puppies reach a certain age, maturity, and have received all their vaccinations, they should be physically ready for a camping trip.
A newborn pup will not be ready for a camping trip. However, when puppies reach a certain age, maturity, and have received all their vaccinations, they should be physically ready for a camping trip.
For more information on whether you can take a puppy camping, check out this post.
Schedule A Vet Appointment Before The Trip
To ensure your dog’s health and safety during the camping trip, it’s best to take the dog to the vet before the trip.
Dogs will need to have certain vaccines before they’re ready for the outside world, and you can learn more about what shots your dog needs before a camping trip here.
Know Your Dog’s Personality
All dogs are different and unique, which is part of the reason they are so easy to fall in love with. Understanding your dog’s personality is key in creating a strong bond and knowing what activities your dog can or cannot do.
Some dog breeds are more suited for camping and the outdoors such as Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Labrador Retrievers, Portuguese Water Dogs, Australian Shepherds, and Huskies. This doesn’t mean you can’t take other breeds camping, but you might just have an easier time with these breeds.
Shiba Inuis are also great camping dogs, and you can learn more about them in this post.
Make Sure Your Dog Is Trained For Camping
Aside from understanding your dog, you should also make sure that it’s trained for camping. That means having basic commands down pat like sit, stay, and be quiet.
It also means that your dog won’t panic or approach strangers at the campsite, which could lead to danger for your dog or other campers who aren’t comfortable around dogs.
Preparing Your Dog For A Camping Trip
Here are a couple of tips and things you should do to prepare your pet for a camping trip.
Practice At Home
The best way to get a dog accustomed to a camping trip is to practice one at home. You can do this in your backyard by setting up a tent, campfire, and other things to simulate the real trip.
This will familiarize your dog with the camping set up and allow you to see how your dog reacts to the environment. Plus, it could be a lot of fun, too!
Pack Plenty Of Food And Water
When heading out on the trip, make sure you have a lot of food and water for your dog. There may be a tendency for dogs not to eat during a camping trip, so make sure to bring a variety of food.
You can learn more about why dogs don’t eat during camping trips and what food dogs prefer in this article
Bring A Big Tent
Having enough space is integral for your dog (and for you, too). So make sure you pack a large tent that your dog can fit in (you’ll never know when you need to let it inside the tent).
If you don’t know what kind of tent to bring, check out this list of the best tents for camping with dogs.
Secure An Area For Your Dog To Roam
One of the best ways to keep your dog happy during a camping trip is by prepping a nice area where your dog can roam around.
This can be done by tying a rope between two trees and attaching your dog’s leash to it or even creating a barrier. This will help your dog feel comfortable in the new environment.
Be Ready For Rain
A rainy day shouldn’t dampen your camping trip, so make sure you’re prepared for it.
This means having a plan when it rains such as where to put the dog, what activities you can do with the dog, and how you and your family will stay entertained while the rain pours.
A rainy day in the tent can be fun and cozy, despite how uncomfortable it sounds. And if you have activities prepared and a plan for what to do if it starts raining, you can be sure that the weather won’t ruin your camping trip.
Be Ready For Emergencies
Camping trips can be unpredictable, so it’s best to always be ready. When it comes to being ready for dog emergencies, that means having a proper first-aid kit for your pet, prescription medication (if your dog needs it), and also the mental preparedness for anything that happens.
Dogs can get lost during a camping trip, but if that happens to you, don’t panic. You can learn more about what to do if your dog gets lost during a trip in this post.
Another thing you should be ready for is your dog getting sick during the camping trip, which is why a first aid kit with all the essentials is an absolute must.
Where Should My Dog Sleep?
There’s a lot of debate as to where a dog should sleep during a camping trip. Some people say that a dog must be inside the tent with you when sleeping, while others say leaving it outside in a crate or bed would be more practical.
While both those arguments are valid, it will depend on you. It should be noted though, that having your dog with you in the tent is a safer option, and it could be a lot of fun, especially if the dog is trained for it.
Can Dogs Sleep In Tents?
Yes, they can! And it can be a lot of fun if you’ve trained your dog well.
How Do You Train A Dog To Sleep In A Tent?
To do this, you’re going to need a lot of training, patience, and practice. Start slow and introduce your dog to the tent first, this is where practicing in the backyard can come in handy.
For a more detailed guide to training a dog to sleep in a tent, check out this article here.
Another option is co-sleeping. This is when you and your dog share a tent.
Some campsites will require this, and this is probably the safest option when it comes to camping with a dog.
It does take some training though and it will help if you have the sleeping gear to help keep your dog comfy and cozy while in the tent.
Camping Gear For Your Dogs
When you head out on a camping trip, it’s important to make sure your dog has the proper gear too.
Here are a couple of things you can bring on the trip to make things easier and more fun for you and your dog!
1. Dog tent
The best sleeping option for both you and your furry friend is to share a tent. However, it can be hard finding the right tent to be shared by dogs and humans, and the search can get even harder if you plan on camping with the family.
Luckily, there are a couple of tents out there specifically designed for camping with dogs.
Our pick for the best dog tent would have to be this Coleman Dome Tent as it is easy to set up, tear down, and has a lot of space for your family and your dog.
For more options, you can also check out this best tents for camping with dogs article.
2. Dog Sleeping Bag Or Sleeping Pad
Just like you need a quality sleeping pad and bag to feel comfortable and warm in the tent, so does your dog.
A quality sleeping pad for your dog will help it feel calm and relaxed inside the tent, which could make the entire experience much easier.
There are a lot of sleeping bags out there specifically designed for dogs, but our best recommendation would have to be the RUFFWEAR Highlands Dog Sleeping Bag.
It has enough room for your dog to feel comfortable, and it can help keep your little furball warm during a cold camping trip up in the mountains.
The bag also comes with a sack where you can easily stuff the sleeping bag when you’re packing up.
3. Collapsible Dog Bowls
While there’s nothing wrong with bringing your dog’s regular dog bowl with you for feeding and water, it can be hard to pack.
A great solution for this is a collapsible dog bowl. You can stretch it out to fit your dog’s food or water whenever you need to, and when you need to start moving and packing, it will fit easily into any bag.
This is a must for anyone who goes camping and travels a lot with their dog. It can be a dream when you’re packing since it doesn’t take up too much space while still allowing your dog to eat and drink from a nice, proper bowl.
We highly recommend the Prima Pets Collapsible Silicone Food & Water Travel Bowl as it has a cute look, it’s light, and comes from a highly respected brand.
4. Pick-Up Bags (Poop Bags)
It’s a rule in almost all parks that are pet friendly that you pick up after your dog. It’s also common etiquette amongst pet owners for you to pick up after your own dog.
Since camping trips last a couple of days, you need a proper way to dispose of your dog’s waste.
There are a lot of poop bags out there, but our favorite is the Amazon Basics Unscented Standard Dog Poop Bags because they do a great job of keeping the scent in, come with a convenient dispenser, and are very affordable.
5. Extendable Leash
It’s a common rule in campgrounds that your dog will have to be tied at all times. This is to keep things safe and fun for everyone, especially since not all people are comfortable around dogs.
Getting an extendable leash is a great way of giving your dog enough space and leeway to move around while also making sure it stays in one area.
One of the best hands-free leashes out there is the RUFFWEAR Adjustable Length Dog Lead. It’s a multiple-use leash that is a must-have for any paw parent out there who takes their dog with them outdoors.
It’s also best to get a proper collar to pair with the leash. There are a lot of outdoor collars out there, all designed to survive a lot of time in nature.
However, our best pick is the Hurtta Padded Collar as it is designed to reduce the stress on your dog’s neck, all while staying durable enough to last you and your dog years worth of walks and camping trips.
6. Treat-Dispensing Toy
Keeping your dog entertained and happy is key to a great camping experience. Toys will keep your dog happy and will also give it an activity to do alone.
Treat dispensing toys are great as your dog can play with it for hours on end without needing too much attention.
Our favorite treat-dispensing toy is the RUFFWEAR Gnawt-A-Rock toy which can keep your dog entertained if you need a moment or two alone.
7. Dog Paw Protector
When your dog is running around enjoying nature and getting some sun, they are at risk of damaging their paws.
This is especially true when you’re in very hot, very cold, or environments with a lot of sharp rocks and other things that can hurt your pet. To keep your dog safe, it might be best to bring paw protectors with you.
The best one on the market today is arguably the Musher’s Secret Dog Paw Wax that’s easy to apply and has a lot of health benefits for your dog.
8. Camping Gear For Cold Climates
If you plan on bringing your pet to an especially cold area, you should consider getting more gear for them. This is to make sure your furry friends don’t get too cold.
Below, we’ve listed a couple of essentials that you need when taking your dog camping in cold climates along with our best picks.
- Dog Buff
Buff has long been known as a great brand for outdoor wear, and they have great products for dogs too.
- Dog Booties
If your dog is going to be walking on snow, it’s best to make sure they have booties to protect their paws.
For cold climates, we highly recommend the All Weather Neoprene Paw Protector Dog Boots as they are great for most types of dogs and do an incredible job at protecting your dog’s paws.
- Dog Coat
Sometimes in very cold conditions, a dog coat would serve your pet very well.
Arguably the top dog coat right now is the Carhartt Chore Coat, and while this is a great piece of gear for your dog, it can be kind of costly.
Luckily, you can check out this article to learn how to make a coat for your dog in a matter of minutes!
This can save you a bit of money while keeping your dog comfortable and warm.
Tips For Camping With Your Dog
Here’s a list of a couple more things to keep in mind when you’re camping with your dog.
Keep Your Dog On A Leash (But An Extendable One)
When out camping, you want to keep a close eye on your pet and make sure it doesn’t run away or make its way to strangers.
The best way to do this is to tie your dog to an extendable leash to give it enough space to feel comfortable but also to keep the dog in one place.
For more info on keeping your dog safe and in one place during a camping trip, check out this post where we dive into alternative methods of keeping your dog put.
Don’t Leave Your Pup Alone
Your dog is supposed to be your constant companion on your trip. As much as possible, you have to keep your dog near you and within sight at all times. This will keep both your dog and other campers safe.
Most campgrounds also require dog owners to keep a close eye on their dogs. If you want to learn more about leaving your dog alone while camping, check out this article.
Use Pick Up Bags
The waste that your dog leaves is your responsibility. That’s why pick up bags are a must.
They keep the scent and other odors at bay, while also helping you keep the campgrounds as clean as they were when you got there.
Keep Your Dog Warm
You have to make sure your dog is comfortable while you’re on your camping trip. A comfortable pup is a happy one, and they might need to be comforted a bit when visiting a new place like a campsite.
There are many ways you can keep a dog warm while camping, from snuggling and cuddling with your pet, all the way to making a coat for it.
We go through the ways you can keep your dog warm while camping in this article, which could be a great help to those of you who are going camping in colder climates.
Keep Your Dog Quiet
A lot of campgrounds and parks will require you to keep your dog quiet. This can spell a lot of trouble for those with loud and reactive dogs.
Those of you who own Siberian Huskies might be familiar with the issue. There are a couple of ways you can train a dog to keep calm and be quiet.
But remember, this will take some time, practice, and patience.
So be ready. You can learn more about training a reactive or loud dog in this article here.
Keep Your Dog Secure All Time
This tip goes hand in hand with the first one. There are a lot of things that can excite or scare dogs during a camping trip.
Fireworks, campfires, and other loud sounds can stress out a dog, and sometimes that can result in them darting away.
To avoid this, make sure your dog is safe and secure in one place.
Apply A Flea & Tick Preventative
You never know what your dog will come into contact with during your trip. And if it’s around other animals, your dog will be at risk of getting fleas and ticks.
It’s best to stay one step ahead and apply something to prevent this from happening to your dog.
- Read more: How to Protect Dogs from Poisonous Insects
Locate A Vet Clinic Near The Campsite
It’s always best to be prepared when camping. You never know what can happen. So in the event of an emergency, it’s best to know where to bring your dog.
A quick google search of the area should show you clinics near the campsite where you can bring your dog just in case.
Protect The Paws
You never know when the ground can hurt your dog’s paws. Temperature can hurt their paws, so if it’s too hot or too cold, it might be best not to walk your dog. Or if you do, make sure they have booties.
Dog booties also help in making sure they don’t hurt themselves on sharp rocks or other things on the ground.
Camping with your dog is a whole lot of fun, and if it’s your first time, it will be an experience you won’t want to forget.
So make sure to take pictures of you and your furry friend so you have a reminder of this precious trip!
Plan A List Of Dog-Friendly Activities
Keeping your dog entertained is integral to a fun trip. And it will also spell a whole lot of fun for you!
Here’s a list of a couple of things you can do with your dog while out camping!
Savor The Time Together
A camping trip with your dog is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be a way for you and your family to bond with your new best friend, so it’s important not to forget that.
Savor the time you have with your dog and enjoy the outdoors together! There’s no better outdoor companion out there than a loyal dog.
Q: What To Do If My Dog Is Scared Of Campfire?
If your dog freaks out because of the campfire, you might have to train it to get used to the fire. You can read this article here for more information.
Q: Should I Take Off My Dog’s Collar At Night?
It’s recommended to let your dog’s skin and neck breathe at night.
So taking off the collar is recommended, especially if your dog is already safe inside the tent with you.
Q: How Do I Take A Dog Camping In A Car?
If you plan on taking your dog camping in a car, you have to make sure your dog has enough space to feel comfortable in the car.
It might also help if you have a couple of practice runs with your dog to ease your pet into driving around and going camping in a car.
Q: What If I Am Camping With Multiple Dogs?
Camping with multiple dogs can be tough and requires a lot of work. But it can all be worth it in the long run.
You can check out this video for more tips and information on camping with multiple dogs.
There you have it, a long and comprehensive guide to camping with your dog. As you can tell, it can take a lot of work and preparation. But trust me, once you have a successful camping trip with your dog, you’ll want to take them with you on every outdoor experience you go on.
If you put in the work and do the research, camping with your dog will be much easier. And now that you’re read up, the only thing left to do is prep all the gear and plan your next camping trip!