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If you like adventure but can’t stand the thought of leaving your dog at home, camping can be the perfect bonding experience. Spending time together outdoors can be a great way to add variety to your lives. Get some fresh air and appreciate nature while introducing your pup to new environments and stimulating them physically and mentally.
If you’re considering bringing your furry friend on your next adventure, this blog is for you. We’ll give you all the best tips and tricks, so you can successfully go camping with your dog. With the right equipment and knowledge, camping with your pet can be a wonderfully fun and memorable experience.
- Should You Go Camping With Your Dog?
- How To Camp With A Dog
- Ways To Keep Your Dog Engaged While Camping
- How To Be Safe While Dog Camping
- Camping With Dogs: FAQs
- Final Notes
Should You Go Camping With Your Dog?
While camping is generally a fun activity for dogs and humans alike, it’s important to remember that each dog has a unique personality. Some dogs might be less thrilled than others with the idea of camping. Think about how your dog reacts in new environments–this will give you some idea of whether or not they would enjoy camping. If your dog fears new settings, it might be a good idea to go on day trips or provide extra training in new places beforehand.
You can also try camping in your backyard before heading out to a campground; this ensures your dog is close to home if they get nervous. Set up a tent in your yard and try to behave as if you were at an actual campground. This can include keeping your dog leashed at all times while in the yard, spending time around a fire, or inviting family and friends over.
Your dog may benefit from getting the lay of the land ahead of time. Set up the tent early in the day and allow your dog to explore the environment. Use treats to create a positive association and give your pooch time to sniff around and get comfy.
Spending time with your dog can boost your mental health and help keep you more physically active since your four-legged friend needs daily exercise.1 Going camping together allows you to enjoy the benefits of being outside and the advantages of quality bonding time with your furry companion. Both dog and owner can also de-stress while camping.
Additionally, the vast expanse of nature can be an excellent place to brush up on training skills. New places are always exciting and often over-stimulating for dogs, so this is a great opportunity to work on obedience training. Teach your dog to stay by your side and not run off chasing squirrels or get distracted by the smell of sizzling sausages from other campers.
Remember that patience is key. Your dog will need some time to adjust to the constantly changing environment. Of course, it’s best to establish your tent as a safe home base, but if you plan to explore new hiking trails daily, there will always be new sights, sounds, and smells that your dog will want to delve into. Bring some of their favorite toys from home to help them better transition into camping life.
Companionship will never be in short supply if you bring your dog along on your camping adventure, particularly if traveling alone. Relaxing and exploring new sights will feel that much more fulfilling with your furry friend by your side. You might even meet fellow pet parents or dog lovers along the way. Having your dog with you might also ease any anxiety that might stem from camping.
How To Camp With A Dog
If you’re thinking about including your canine pal on your camping adventure, it’s important to be prepared to ensure your dog’s safety, comfort, and enjoyment. Some general things to consider are weather, your dog’s overall temperament, finding the right campground, equipment, and emergency preparedness.
Before you go, make an appointment with your vet to ensure your dog is up-to-date on all their vaccinations, has a suitable heartworm, flea, and tick preventative, and is healthy enough to accompany you. It’s also a good idea to attend to your dog’s basic grooming needs, such as trimming their nails and combing their fur. Doing these routine checks can help you find any ticks or fleas and ensure your dog is clean and ready to be outdoors.
Ensure your dog knows basic commands
A successful camping trip with your dog should be fun and relaxing and include basic campsite etiquette. Therefore, ensuring your furry friend knows some basic commands before you venture out is essential. This will help keep them safe and comfortable while giving you peace of mind.
One of the most important things your dog should know is leash behavior and recall. Keeping your dog on a leash around other campers at the campground is advisable, even if you’re extremely confident in their recall ability. The most disciplined dogs can get distracted by new sounds and smells, so solidifying leash training is a good idea. Additionally, some camping areas might have a leash policy.
Basic obedience training is necessary, especially if you plan to hike in popular areas. Research the rules of your campsite and surrounding sites beforehand and be aware if trails are used by other vehicles, such as bikes or horses. A good rule of thumb is to ensure your dog stays close to you while hiking since this can minimize confrontations with people, wildlife, and other dogs. Some places, especially national parks, have strict rules about interacting with wildlife.
Other elements of camping etiquette include the following:
- Picking up after your dog
- Making sure that barking is kept to a minimum (to avoid disturbing other campers and wildlife)
- Never leaving your dog unattended for long periods
- Ensuring they don’t invade other campers’ personal space or steal any food items
Look for a dog-friendly campground
For those of us whose perfect vacation includes our loveable canine companion, many national parks and landmarks across the country are dog-friendly. Research which places allow dogs and be aware that some locations may only be partially dog-friendly.
The number of pet-friendly campgrounds varies from state to state. For example, you may find it easier to locate pet-friendly areas in the Pacific Northwest than in more populated beach areas. Nevertheless, with some research, there's always a good chance of finding the perfect camping location for you and your dog.
U.S. National Parks are generally dog-friendly, but dogs are often not permitted on the surrounding trails. You should be aware of federal leash laws and regulations specific to your campsite. Some places allow dogs in lodging buildings, while others don’t. Try to remain open-minded and remember that pet laws exist for the protection of wildlife, nature, fellow adventurers, and your dog.
Regulations are subject to change. Therefore, it’s a good idea to research the specific area you’re going to. The bottom line is that most camping areas and national parks are very welcoming of both you and your dog.
Pack the essentials and right gear
Just like you'll need the essentials on your camping trip, so will your dog. In order to give your pup the best experience possible, it’s important to bring along the following supplies:
- Comfortable tent and sleeping equipment
- Pet first aid kit
- Dog food/treats
- Waste bags
- Medical records
- Collar and ID tag
- Leash and harness
- Drinking water
- Safety lights
Additionally, bring along any medications your dog is currently taking. Your pet first aid kit should also include a saline wound cleaner, eyewash, and antiseptic spray or ointment.1 Other first aid kit items you might consider including are gauze or bandage tape, cotton balls, socks to wrap around a wounded paw, tweezers, clean towels, and a spare leash.
Ways To Keep Your Dog Engaged While Camping
Camping opens up many opportunities for you and your dog to explore new places and engage in fun outdoor activities. You will undoubtedly go on many walks and hikes to interesting places, which most dogs love.
However, it’s also essential to have some quality downtime and rest back in your tent, which is where enrichment toys come in handy. Snuffle mats, squeaky toys, and chew treats are all great options to keep your dog entertained when you’re not adventuring. Bringing a few dog toys from home is also a good idea to help make them feel comfortable and secure.
Depending on the area you’re camping in, you might find that water-related activities, such as kayaking or swimming, are available. If your pup doesn’t mind water, these activities can be a lot of fun together. Kayaking on a sunny day with your faithful furry companion by your side can be immensely relaxing and enjoyable for both of you. You might enjoy cooling off by splashing around together if there's a safe swimming area.
Hiking is a great way to explore nature and get exercise. Dogs are generally always thrilled to be outside, sniffing new things and enjoying the space to run around. Remember to consider your dog’s needs while hiking, especially if you plan to be away from your campsite. Dogs don’t sweat the same way we do, so your furry friend will need plenty of water.2
Keep an eye on your dog to ensure they don’t drink from unknown water sources, such as streams, lakes, or even puddles, which can carry harmful pathogens. As long as you follow basic etiquette and have researched the hiking trails, you and your dog will likely have an amazing time exploring new sights together.
How To Be Safe While Dog Camping
It's necessary to consider certain emergency situations that may arise during your trip.
Know the signs of dehydration in dogs, which include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Reduced energy levels
- Sunken or dry eyes
- Dry nose
- Thick saliva
You should also consider the weather and temperature conditions in relation to your dog’s breed. A Husky, for example, will have a much easier time in colder weather than a Chihuahua. Make sure to bring along plenty of blankets and even a doggy jacket and know the signs of hypothermia3, which include the following symptoms:
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Delayed reflexes
- Dilated pupils
- Loss of consciousness.
There's also a higher risk of your pet getting bit by insects, especially ticks. Grass, fields, and riverbeds are all areas where ticks could lurk, so it’s a good idea to protect your dog.
Your dog may also lick or eat something they shouldn’t. Dogs explore the world with their noses and tongues, and the more time they spend outdoors, the greater the risk. Ensure your dog is vaccinated against rabies and other common diseases and have some emergency supplies with you in case your dog eats something toxic.
Camping also means putting yourself and your dog much closer to wildlife than you normally would at home. It’s a good idea to research the environment you’re going to, especially if it’s different from where you live. Consider if any animals, such as snakes, scorpions, or coyotes, could be dangerous to your pet. If your dog is reactive towards other creatures, keeping them on a leash while hiking is a good idea.
Many pets listen well at home, but a new hiking trail or campground environment might prove too distracting for an excited pup. You don’t want your dog running off chasing a critter and coming back with a snake bite, so be extra vigilant when taking them to areas where there are wild animals.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you want to take your dog camping:
- Plan ahead
- Keep an eye on your dog at all times
- Carry a current photo of your dog in case they get lost
- Keep your dog on a leash
- Avoid direct contact with wildlife
- Pack emergency supplies.
- Get your dog microchipped
- Update their ID information
- Have some kind of emergency plan in place
Camping With Dogs: FAQs
Is it a good idea to go camping with my dog?
There's no right or wrong answer as to whether or not you should go camping with your dog, but most dog owners say yes! It will take some extra preparation, but it can be an amazing adventure and bonding experience for both of you. The extra time spent outdoors will benefit you and your dog greatly and can be a good way to positively challenge your dog and give them a new, stimulating experience.
Where should my dog sleep while camping?
On a camping trip, your dog can sleep anywhere, including with you. Tent camping with a dog can allow you to stay near your dog and keep an eye on them. Of course, if you don’t permit them to sleep in your bed at home, you might not allow them to sleep with you in your tent.
There are a few options regarding sleeping arrangements for your dog; a camping crate or portable dog bed are the easiest. You might also consider investing in a doggy tent. This is especially useful if you want to encourage more independent sleeping or give your dog increased comfort and personal space.
How do I control my dog during a camping trip?
Energetic dogs that are hard to handle at home will pose an even greater challenge on a camping trip, with new smells and other stimuli around. Brush up on basic obedience training before you go, including commands like “leave it,” “stay,” “come,” and “no.” Keeping your dog on a leash can effectively deter them from potentially harmful situations, but they should be leash trained. Most dogs are highly food or praise-motivated, so pack plenty of treats.
Try walking around the campsite once you arrive and do some basic attention training to encourage your dog to focus on you even in the new environment.
Taking your dog camping is a wonderful way to experience nature and enjoy the outdoors with your furry companion. It can strengthen your bond and create a lifetime of joyful memories while giving both of you a change of scenery. Your dog will love running around and exploring.
Pay a visit to your vet for a quick check-up before heading out, and do your research about pet-friendly campsites and local wildlife. Pack an emergency first aid kit and know the warning signs of dehydration and hypothermia, just in case something happens. Most importantly, be respectful of other campers, animals, and rules. With the right equipment, research, and preparation, camping with your dog can be one of the most enjoyable things you'll ever do.
At Dutch, we can provide advice and help you prepare for your camping adventure. Whether your pup needs flea medication or behavioral modification training, a licensed vet can get you and your dog ready to explore the wilderness safely and comfortably.
“How Can a Pet Help My Mental Health?” Mental Health Foundation, https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/a-z-topics/pets-and-mental-health.
Meyers, Harriet. “Camping with Dogs: How to Prepare.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 17 June 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/summer-camping-with-dog/.
Staff, AKC. “Hypothermia in Dogs: How Cold Is Too Cold?” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 31 Jan. 2023, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/hypothermia-in-dogs-how-cold-is-too-cold/.