Camping With Dogs: Everything You Need To Know [2020]

Are you a dog owner who loves camping? Are you considering taking your dog with you on your next camping trip?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, then we have a topic that’ll be right up your street. 

We’re going to be looking in detail at camping with your four-legged friend at campsites or in the wild.

What Will You Learn?

Essential Camping Equipment Checklist with Dogs

Here is our list of must-have items that you need to take on any camping trip with a dog. 

First aid kit for dogs 

A dog can be as easily injured as you can, so make sure you’ve packed a first aid kit especially for dogs.

Collapsible water bowl 

Your dog will need plenty of hydration when outdoors and active. A lightweight, collapsible bowl can be used at a campsite or packed into a backpack for wild camping and hiking. 

Strong leash & collar 

A good strong leash and collar will ensure that you can keep your dog restrained at all times, even if he is tempted to chase a wild animal. 

All responsible dog owners know that keeping their dog under control is the correct approach to take, particularly when around strangers. 

Many people are apprehensive of dogs, and it is good to be mindful of this at all times. 

A short, non-retractable leash is the simplest and most dependable option for most dogs. 

Long leash & stake 

These are a good option to pack for those brief moments when you need to leave your dog unattended. Some campsites do not allow you to tie your dog to a tree, so having your own stake solves this problem. 

Doggie backpack 

A great piece of kit that means your dog can carry some of the essential items that he’ll need! 

A doggie backpack gives you easy access to items like a first aid kit or collapsible water bowl, and saves you from having to rummage around in your own backpack. 

Protective booties 

This is particularly important if you know that your dog has sensitive paws. Always carry a backup pair of booties, as it is not unusual for them to be lost on longer trips. 

Even if your dog’s paws are tough, protective booties are a good backup item to carry as they can be worn in the case of injuries. 

Extra towel 

Your dog is likely to get messy and muddy when outdoors constantly, so extra towels for rubbing him down and cleaning him off at the end of the day are essential. 

Dog bedding 

Sleeping bags designed especially for dogs are available to buy, or you can bring your dog’s usual sleeping bed or blanket. 

Brush or comb 

It is very likely that your dog is going to gather dirt, seeds, and detritus in his coat during the day. A brush or comb will help to remove the camping mess and keep your dog (and your tent) clean and comfortable. 

Dog collar safety light 

This is a smart item to attach to your dog’s collar. It means that you’ll always be able to keep track of your dog when it is dark.

Nail clippers & file 

Sharp dog claws can quickly cause damage to the floor of your tent. Carry nail clippers and a nail file with you and you ensure that this won’t happen on camping trips of any length. 

Treats & toys 

Just like children, many dogs will enjoy having their favourite toy to play with and a treat to keep them energized during the day. 

Poop bags 

It is good practice to carry these whenever you are outdoors with your dog. 

Note: if you are wild camping or doing a multi-day hike, do as you would with human waste – dig a cathole for burying the poop rather than packing it out with you.

What Can I Do To Prepare My Dog For A Camping Trip?

There are plenty of ways in which you can make your camping trip run smoothly for you and your dog. Here are the best ways that we know to be well prepared. 

Get your dog’s fitness levels ready for the trip. 

Make sure your dog is in good shape before you undertake any strenuous exercise together. 

Get into a training regimen well in advance of your trip, and take your dog on longer hikes to build stamina. 

Be sure that your dog is fit enough for whatever you have in mind before you go away together. 

Polish up on your dog’s training and etiquette. 

Above all, you need to know that your dog obeys commands and behaves in a manner that is appropriate to be present on a campsite filled with strangers. 

If you intend to take your dog on a hiking trail or into the wilderness, you need to be certain that he will pay attention to your instructions so that he doesn’t eat poisonous plants or get into trouble with aggressive wild animals. 

Purchase a well-fitting doggie backpack. 

For hiking and wild camping, it is a great idea to have your dog wearing a specially designed pack in which dog-specific items can be carried. 

Make sure that you get a pack that fits your dog well without causing any rubbing or chaffing. 

Get your dog accustomed to wearing the pack without anything in it, and then gradually add weight to it. 

A general guideline is to fill it with no more than 25% of the dog’s body weight. Double check this with your vet at your pre-trip checkup. 

Apply a tick and flea preventative before you leave. 

A healthy dog is a happy dog, so apply flea and tick preventative spray before you go camping. 

Make sure your dog is easy to identify. 

It is really important for a dog to be identifiable when in new places where he is more likely to get lost. For this reason, be sure that your dog has an up to date tag on his collar. 

Consider having a temporary tag added that includes the details of your campsite as well as your mobile phone number. 

Camp out together at home. 

Be sure to camp out in your backyard or garden with your dog before you go. 

Get your four-legged friend acclimatized to sleeping in a tent. 

It will make your trip a lot easier. It also gives you the opportunity to make sure that you are both going to be warm and comfortable at night.

Important Questions To Ask Before You Go Camping With Your Dog

tips for camping with dogs

Although dogs love the outdoors and will relish getting to spend time with their owners, there are a number of factors that need to be considered when planning a dog-appropriate camping trip. 

Have you chosen a dog-friendly campsite? 

This is the first thing you should do when considering where to camp with your dog. Check ahead and be sure that where you are camping accepts dogs. 

Do you know the local trail regulations? 

If you are going to be hiking or wild camping with your dog, you need to be certain that where you are going permits dogs. 

Many national parks in America do not allow dogs at all, whereas some trails allow only dogs that are on a leash. Make sure you know the regulations before you set off. 

Keep reading and I’ve included a map of dog-friendly parks below.

Have you visited your vet for a pre-trip checkup?  

A quick visit to the vet will set your mind at rest. Ask your vet to confirm that your dog is in good physical and behavioural condition and that it is suitable to take him camping. 

Stock up on any medication and vitamins that your dog requires and make sure that you have all vaccinations and inoculations up to date. Bear in mind that many campsites require dogs to have up to date rabies vaccinations.

Wild Camping V.S. Campsite Camping: Which Is Best for Your Dog?

The answer to this question is very heavily influenced by the character of your dog. It is important to be really honest in answering these questions, as giving truthful responses can make or break your trip! 

Does your dog do well around strangers? 

If the answer to this is no, it is better not to take him to a crowded campsite. Wild camping in a more isolated location would be best for your dog

Does your dog tend to bark frequently? 

If the answer is yes, it may not be a good idea to take him a campsite where he is going to aggravate all of your fellow campers! Find a secluded spot where your dog will stay calm and are not going to bother anyone else. 

Is your dog in good health? 

If your dog is fit and in good health, he will cope well with a wilderness setting. If on the other hand, he is elderly or in poor health, a short trip at a suitable campsite would be more appropriate. 

Is your dog aggressive around other dogs? 

Once again, if the answer to this question is yes it is not a good idea to take your dog to a campsite, where may well be in close proximity to other dogs.

If your dog has serious behavioural issues and is aggressive consistently, it is safer for all to leave them at home. Work on their behaviour and their training and perhaps one day they will be able to join you camping.

How to Find Dog-Friendly Campgrounds in America?

camping with dogs in cold weather

Some parks are not allowed pets. So if you are planning to camp with your dog in national parks, you should at first get knowledge about their park policy before you hit the road.

But how do you know where to go? Some of the parks that welcome dogs:

Not your location? There is a map showing you each dog-friendly park in which state you live. 

Here you will find all American state parks that welcome pets and provide everything your best furry friend will need. It also will make it easier camping with large dogs.

If you need detailed pet policies and amenities for state parks all 50 states in the United States, this will help.

With pet-friendly cabin rentals, off-leash play areas and other considerate dog-friendly services, they are perfect for you to escape to recreations with your puppy for weekends and vacations.

Camp Sleeping Arrangements with Your Dog

What are the options for night time camping with your dog? Simply put, you have two choices – your dog is either in the tent with you or outside on its own. 

Option 1: Have your dog sleep inside your tent

This is a safer choice when wild camping, and will generally mean that you can feel confident that your pet is safe and close at hand. Remember that you’ll both benefit from the additional warmth you’re creating together, so this is a smart choice when temperatures are cool. 

Inside bedding essentials: 

  • A tent with sufficient space for you and your dog. 
  • A foam mat to protect the tent floor from damage 
  • A blanket, comforter, dog sleeping bag or soft bed from home. 

Option 2: Have your dog sleep outside your tent

Some people prefer to leave their dog sleeping outside. If this is your decision, make sure that your dog is tied up and can’t wander away from where you are camped. Make sure that he has shelter from the weather and is not going to get cold. 

It is not advisable to leave your dog outside at night in wilderness conditions. This leaves him vulnerable to wildlife.

Outside bedding essentials: 

  • A tent with a vestibule to protect your dog or a sheltered area. 
  • A blanket, comforter, dog sleeping bag or soft bed from home. 
  • A tarp, a sheet of plastic, or a foam mat to place on the ground. This will prevent your dog’s bedding from getting cold or moist and will help your dog to sleep comfortably. 

Tips For Camping With A Dog In Bear Country

Never let your dog off the leash. 

This is the key rule that every dog owner must remember when they are out in the bear country.

Even the most well-trained dog can be tempted to chase after a bear, and this is where accidents can happen. 

An aggravated bear may become aggressive and attack you or your dog if it is chased, so don’t let this happen!  

Follow leave no trace principles. 

Pack out or bury human and dog waste, and leave no litter behind. For a bear might attract to the scents. 

Pack all food into bear canisters. 

Bears have an incredible sense of smell, and will be attracted to the smell of food in particular. Carry all food items, including your dog’s food, in a bear-proof canister. Look them in the boot of your car if you have it with you. 

Wash your dishes right away & maintain a clean camp. 

After you’ve eaten, don’t wait around and allow food smells to linger. 

Wash up your dog’s bowl right away, and be sure to dispose of your washing-up water far from where you are sleeping. 

Burn or dispose of any food scraps away from your campsite, and be conscientious about keeping a really clean campsite. 

Don’t hike at dawn or dusk, or during the night. 

These are the times when bears tend to be most active, so avoid being out during these hours as much as possible. 

Put a bell on your dog’s collar. 

This extra noise warns any bears that you and your dog are coming. 

Bears do not like to be surprised, so it is good practice to talk loudly or clap your hands regularly to ensure that any bears nearby move away before you get close to them. 

It is not advisable to scream or blow whistles, as these can both sound like an animal in distress and may attract the bear’s curiosity.

How To Keep Your Dog Safe & Healthy When Camping?

camping with large dogs

You’ve made sure that you have a well-equipped first aid kit in case your dog gets into scrapes while you are camping, but what else can you do to ensure that your dog stays safe and healthy? 

Know where your nearest vet is. 

Before you hit the road, make sure you have the name, phone number of a veterinarian or pet emergency clinic near to where you will be camping.

Do regular checks for ticks. 

Double check that your first aid kit has tweezers or other devices for removing ticks. 

These can be problematic in many outdoor settings, so be conscientious about checking and removing ticks from your dog at the end of every day. 

Lyme Disease is carried by ticks and has serious health consequences that you and your dog want to avoid. 

Keep your dog hydrated with clean water. 

Make sure that your dog has plenty of water to drink, and be careful about allowing him to drink from wild water sources as these may contain 

Rest often. 

Take regular breaks from strenuous activity and keep a careful eye on your dog for any signs of dehydration or heat stroke. Seek shade when you rest, particularly when the weather is hot. 

Keep your dog on a leash. 

If your dog is likely to chase after wild animals, this is the best way to keep him safe. 

Having your dog on a leash protects him from potentially being attacked, but it also helps to ensure wildlife are protected too. 

Keeping your dog on a leash means that you can protect him from nettle stings and other poisonous plants

Bring sufficient food. 

If you are planning a particularly active camping trip, remember that your dog will be burning plenty of extra calories and will need to eat more than usual. 

Bring more food than he would normally eat at home, and make sure you have nutritious snacks to feed him throughout the day.

Tips For Camping With Your Dog in Hot Weather

Provide shade 

Don’t leave your dog in the full sun. Seek out the cool shade of a big tree if you are out hiking, and make sure that he has a shaded spot in which to rest at your campsite. 

Hydrate often 

Your dog will need plenty of water, so ensure that you always have a good supply of fresh, clean water with you at all times. 

Take regular breaks 

Don’t push your dog too hard in the heat. Take regular breaks together. 

Purchase a cooling dog vest 

If you know your dog tends to overheat, consider buying a cooling dog vest for them to wear when you are camping. 

Use a cold compress 

Use a water bladder or a towel soaked in cold water to bring your dog’s body temperature down.

Tips For Camping With Your Dog in Cold Weather

Pack a winter dog coat 

An extra layer of insulation will help your dog feel comfortable. This is especially important if you have a short-haired dog that is vulnerable to the cold. 

Put booties on your dog’s paws 

These will help to prevent sensitive feet from suffering when the temperatures are low. 

Create a warm sleeping spot 

Extra thick blankets or a doggie sleeping bag will help your dog stay cozy at night. Consider keeping your dog in the tent so you can share your body heat.

Keep active 

Lots of exercises will keep everyone warm when the temperatures drop, and this includes your four-legged friend.

Simple Activities To Do With Your Dog When Camping

Wild swimming – swimming is a soothing form of exercise that helps to keep your dog in shape. Taking the opportunity to swim together in a safe lake or river will be great fun for both of you!

Fetch – bring your dogs’ favourite ball so you can play a game of fetch in the wild. Most dogs love to catch and chase games, so you could also experiment with a frisbee

Hiking – take your dog on wilderness hikes away from your campsite. Your dog will love the chance to be out in the fresh air and exploring the freedom of natural space.

Jogging – if you enjoy running, why not use your camping trip to see if you and your dog might be good jogging partners? Find a short trail you can run together at a steady pace, and make the most of any beautiful spots near to where you are camping, like a sandy beach.

Have Fun Camp With Your Dog!

In this comprehensive guide, we go through everything that you’ll require for a successful camping trip with your dog. All of these tips will make your dog ready, stay safe and healthy, which will leave you power and confidence. 

Please comment below to let us know if this guide has helped you and your dog to prepare for your next camping trip together! 

Or share this post to help more your friends.

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