Nothing beats camping with your four-legged friend by your side; after all, they are family. Though you might have to put in a little extra effort to make sure everything goes smoothly, it will be worth it when you explore the great outdoors together. No matter the breed, size, or age of your pup, with a little bit of planning ahead, this trip can be one for the books (for both of you).
But is it really safe to take a dog camping? Is it a good idea? What dog camping gear would you need? And if so, what are the best tips for ensuring you and your pup have a great trip? So, before you pack up the car and head out into the wilderness, dearest dog owners, read on for everything you need to know about camping with pups!
Is Camping with Your Dog Safe?
The answer to this question largely depends on your dog and how they do in new environments. If your pup is the type that loves meeting new people and trying new things, then camping will probably be a breeze for them. On the other hand, if your dog is a little more reserved or gets anxious in new situations, you might want to consider leaving them at home for this trip.
The best way to gauge how your dog will do on a camping trip is to try some small-scale trips first, like spending a night in the backyard or going for a day hike. If your dog does well in these situations, you can probably assume they’ll do fine camping.
Of course, even the most social dogs can have a hard time camping if they’re not used to being away from home. If this is the case for your pup, you can do a few things to help them adjust, like bringing along their favorite toy or blanket from home.
With that being said, as long as you’re aware of the risks, carry out some trial runs, and take the necessary precautions, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a safe and fun camping trip with your furry friend.
Tips for Camping with Dogs
Now that we’ve answered the question, Is it safe to take a dog camping? it’s time to move on to the next big question: how do you make sure both you and your pup have a great time? To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of our top tips for camping with dogs.
1) Choose the Right Campground
The first step in planning a great camping trip with your dog is finding a dog-friendly campground that is well-suited to your pup’s needs. For example, if your dog loves the water, you might want to find a campground with a lake, river, or ocean nearby.
Types of Camping with Dogs
Before we dive into our tips for camping with dogs, it’s important to understand the different types of camping so you can decide which one is best for you and your pup. After all, not all camping trips are created equal, and some will be better suited for your dog than others.
Car Camping with Dogs
This is by far the easiest type of camping to do with your dog. Since you can bring all of your gear with you and don’t have to worry about packing everything in, car camping is a great option for those new to camping with dogs or have a dog that might not be able to handle a more strenuous trip.
Backpacking with Dogs
If you and your pup are feeling adventurous, backpacking with your dog might be the perfect option for you. This type of camping is a bit more challenging since you have to carry all your gear on your back, but it’s a great way to bond with your dog and explore the great outdoors together. Just be sure your dog is in good shape and can handle long hiking days before attempting a backpacking trip.
Dispersed Camping with Dogs
Dispersed camping is a type of camping that is done away from developed campgrounds. This means you won’t have access to things like bathrooms, running water, or picnic tables, and you’ll have to pack everything in with you. Because of this, dispersed camping areas are only recommended for experienced campers and those with dogs that are comfortable in remote areas.
2) Get Your Dog Used to Camp
A fun time will begin once your dog gets used to camping. If your dog has never been camping before, it’s best to start small and gradually work your way up to longer or more difficult trips. For instance, you might want to start by making a few car camping trips or even just spending a night in the backyard with all of your camping gear. You can pack everything up as if you were going on a trip, but this way, you’re close to home in case anything goes wrong. Start by letting them sniff around and investigate the gear, then give them a treat. Once they’re comfortable with the gear, you can start taking them on short hikes or car rides to get them used to it. This will also give your dog a chance to get used to sleeping in a tent or in a different location and make the camping transition much easier.
3) Choose the Right Camping Spot
You can't just pick any old camping spot and expect it to be dog-friendly. When choosing a spot to camp, be sure to research the area first to make sure it’s safe for your dog. This means avoiding areas with poisonous plants, dangerous wildlife, or steep cliffs. You should also make sure the campground you’re interested in allows dogs and that they don’t have any restrictions, such as leash laws. This may seem like a lot to think about, but it’s important to do your research to find a safe and enjoyable spot for you and your pup.
4) Pack the Right Gear
When packing for a camping trip, you must ensure you have everything you need for yourself and your dog. This includes things like dog food, water, a leash, a dog's collar with ID tags and proof that they are up to date on rabies vaccination, a pet first-aid kit, and any medications your dog might need. You should also bring along some toys and treats to keep your dog entertained, as well as a bed or crate if they’re not used to sleeping on the ground. By packing the right gear, you can be sure you and your dog are prepared for anything. Instead of carrying multiple packs, you might want to consider the Mobile Dog Gear Backpack to carry all your dog’s gear, which frees up your hands for other things. It's perfect for short hikes or even long backpacking trips. It includes an MDG feeding system, two lined food carriers, and silicon bowls that make pouring and eating much easier.
5) Check for Ticks and Fleas
Ticks and fleas are a common concern for any pet owner, but they can be especially problematic when you’re camping. These pests can not only make your dog uncomfortable, but they can also transmit diseases. Be sure to check your dog for ticks and fleas before and after your trip, and consider using a tick and flea preventative to help keep them at bay.
6) Be Prepared for Weather Changes
The weather can be unpredictable, especially in the mountains, so it’s important to be prepared for anything when camping with your dog. This means packing extra food and water in case of emergencies and bringing along some cold-weather gear for you and your dog. If you’re camping in an area with lots of mosquitoes, you should also bring along some bug spray to keep them at bay. By being prepared for the worst, you can be sure you and your dog will be safe and comfortable no matter the weather.
7) Bring a First Aid Kit
Just like you should always have a first aid kit when camping, it’s also a good idea to bring one specifically for your dog. This way, you’ll be prepared in case of any minor injuries or accidents. Be sure to pack items like gauze, Band-Aids, a tick remover, and antiseptic wipes or creams. You might also consider bringing along dog-specific first aid items like Paw Rescue or Dog Nail Clippers.
8) Invest in Comfortable Sleeping Gear
For some dogs, sleeping in a tent or camper can be stressful. If your dog is one of them, it’s important to make sure they have a comfortable place to sleep. Why would we include this point in safety tips? Because it will help them relax and feel more at ease in their new surroundings. Be sure to bring along their favorite bed or blanket, or consider getting a waterproof PU-coated and polyester-cotton travel bed that’s easy to pack and clean. This kind of bed will also help to keep them warm at night. When it comes to camping, comfort is key for both you and your dog.
9) Try co-sleeping
Now, this might be a new concept for some of you, but co-sleeping with your dog can actually be a great way to bond with them and keep them feeling comfortable while camping. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, co-sleeping simply means sleeping in the same space as your dog. This can be done by letting them sleep in your tent with you, or by sleeping in their dog bed with them. If you decide to co-sleep with your dog, just be sure to follow these safety tips:
Make sure your dog is comfortable with it first. If they seem stressed or anxious, co-sleeping might not be the best option for them.
Pick a spot in your tent or camper that’s out of the way and not too close to the door. This will help your dog feel more secure.
If you’re using a sleeping bag, make sure it’s big enough for both of you.
Be aware that your dog will move around during the night, so try to sleep on your side or back to avoid being kicked or stepped on.
10) Keep Them Leashed
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to keep your dog leashed when you’re camping. Not only will this help to keep them safe, but it will also prevent them from disturbing other campers or wildlife. If you’re planning on hiking, consider getting a breathable hands-free leash like this one that will allow you to have your hands free while on the hiking trail.
11) Avoid Hot Pavement
Hot pavement is one hazard that’s often overlooked, but it can be extremely dangerous for your dog's paws. Their paw pads are sensitive and can easily be burned, so it’s important to avoid hot pavement at all costs. If the ground is too hot for you to keep your hand on, it’s definitely too hot for your dog to walk on. If you must walk on hot pavement, be sure to do so quickly and avoid stopping for too long. You can also try to find a grassy area to walk on or invest in some dog booties to protect their paws.
12) Be Mindful of Your Dog’s Energy Level
Most people know that dogs need a lot of exercise, but sometimes we forget that they can get tired just like we do. When camping, it’s important to be mindful of your dog’s energy level and ensure they get enough rest. If this is the first time your dog is camping, they might be a little more active than usual and need more breaks. Be sure to take plenty of breaks during hikes and keep an eye on them for signs of fatigue. You can keep a water bottle with you; it will help them stay hydrated and avoid heat stroke. Invest in a multi-use bottle, which means its lid can be used as a bowl - a time saver!
13) Never Leave Them Alone
This might seem like an obvious one, but it’s important to never leave your dog alone while camping. You might be tempted to leave them in the tent or camper while you go for a hike, but this can be very dangerous. Dogs can easily become anxious and stressed when left alone, which can lead to them escaping or destroying property. If you need to free your hands, consider getting a hands-free dog leash, so your dog can have the freedom to explore while still being safely tethered to you.
14) Pack Poop Bags and Clean Up After Your Dog
Poop happens, but that doesn’t mean you should leave your dog's waste behind. Be sure to pack plenty of poop bags and clean up after your dog when necessary. Not only is this courteous to other campers, but it will also help to keep the area clean and safe for everyone. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution and pick up after your four-legged friend. No one wants to step in dog poop while on a leisurely camping trip!
15) Engage in Dog-friendly Activities While Camping
Even though camping is all about relaxing, you can still do plenty of fun activities to keep your dog occupied. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Go for a hike: This is a great way to explore the area and get some exercise especially after a long car ride. Just be sure to bring plenty of water and take breaks as needed.
Play fetch: A classic game that never gets old. You can even use a Frisbee or a ball designed for dogs.
Go swimming: If a lake or river is nearby, take your dog for a swim. Just be sure to keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t go too far out. You might need a doggy life vest for this activity, so if you don't have one, consider skipping it.
Explore: Let your dog lead the way (with a hands-free leash, of course, unless off leash is permitted) and see where they want to go. You might be surprised at the places they find.
Tent camping with your dog can be an excellent experience for both of you, but it’s important to be prepared. Be sure to pack all the essentials and follow the tips above to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable trip. Dehydrated dog food, a camping-specific dog bowl, and a first aid kit for dogs are a must. With a little planning, you can relax and enjoy your time in the great outdoors with your furry friend. And most importantly, have fun on your outdoor adventures!