Hey there, fellow dog enthusiasts! If you’re an outdoor-lover who wants to share the joy of the outdoors with your pup, you’re in the right place! Camping with dogs can be an absolute blast, if done right.
I mean, what's better than exploring the great outdoors, hiking through lush forests, and sleeping under the stars with your best furry friend by your side? As great as it can be, camping with a dog does require a bit of preparation to ensure a happy, safe, and comfortable adventure for you and your canine compadre.
We’ll share all the essential tips and tricks you’ll want to follow for a fun, stress-free camping trip with your furry friend.
The Benefits of Camping with Dogs
Not only does camping with your dog encourage an active lifestyle for both of you (we all know how much our dogs love a good workout!), but it can also deepen the bond between you two.
Embarking on new adventures together will build your relationship, just as it would with a human friend.
Camping trips can also be a tremendous source of enrichment for your dog, offering them exposure to new sights, sounds, and – most importantly for dogs – smells! We’re talking olfactory sensations unlike anything a city-dwelling pup could imagine.
Sounds like fun, doesn't it?
On top of that, camping provides you with the opportunity to practice your training in what is probably going to be one of the most stimulating, distracting environments your dog will ever be in. If your dog can recall while following the scent of a rabbit, or can heel while trekking through pine trees, you’ve pretty much won the dog training obedience award!
So, let's dive into some of the best tips when it comes to camping with dogs. These will help make your next dog-friendly camping trip a tail-wagging success!
Essential Tips for Camping With Dogs
1. Assemble a Tailored First Aid Kit for Your Canine Companion
Just like you wouldn't dare to venture into the wild without a well-equipped first aid kit on hand, you shouldn't let your furry friend tag along without a specialized doggy first aid kit too.
It's not an exaggeration to say that this could be a real game-changer in emergencies! Equip this life-saving kit with indispensable items such as:
- Tweezers (for those pesky ticks)
- Bandages and gauze pads
- Antiseptic wipes
- Medical tape
- Protective gloves
There are also plenty of pre-made dog first-aid kits if you don’t want to assemble one DIY style. Let's hope you won't need it, but it's always better to be safe than sorry!
2. Bring Along Durable, Long-Lasting Chewing Toys
Chewing toys are not merely distractions for your dog. They play an essential role in managing your pooch's anxiety and behavior, particularly in unfamiliar settings like a campsite.
Pack a sturdy, long-lasting chew toy, such as Nylabone, to keep your four-legged friend busy and content during those quiet moments around the campfire.
Make sure it’s an item you know your dog loves already – you want a tried-and-true chew camping, not something your pup may turn his nose up at!
3. Consider a Doggy Backpack for Your Four-Legged Friend
Dog backpacks are an excellent way to share the load (and responsibility!) with your pooch. And let’s be honest – your pup is going to earn you some serious Instagram likes in his cute little pack satchel!
However, remember the golden rule: don't overburden your pup. As per veterinarians' advice, dogs should carry no more than 25% of their body weight. So, if your pooch is a tiny terrier, don't expect them to lug around a gallon of water!
4. Keep Your Dog Visible with a Light-Up Collar
Safety first, always! In the dim light of the wilderness or on those late-night potty breaks, a light-up or reflective collar can be a literal lifesaver, ensuring your dog remains visible at all times. It's a small investment that can make a big difference.
5. Craft a Cozy Sleep Setup for Your Pooch
Would you enjoy sleeping on the cold, hard ground? Probably not, and guess what, neither would your dog!
Consider investing in a portable camping dog bed or even a sleeping bag specially designed for dogs. They'll appreciate the extra comfort after a day of adventuring, and you'll get some much-needed peace of mind.
Although if you’d rather share your own sleep spot with your dog, there’s nothing wrong with that! Just consider whether you want your pup’s mud-covered paws from a day packed with adventuring on your sheets.
6. Opt for Dog-Friendly Trails and Campgrounds
Be aware that not all camping sites welcome four-legged visitors, so it's crucial to do your homework before hitting the road. Some camps may only allow dogs in certain areas of the campground, so make sure when you book a spot that the booking portal knows you have a canine friend in tow!
Also, choose trails that match your dog's fitness level and breed characteristics.
A flat, short, shaded trail would be a better choice for a brachycephalic breed like a Bulldog, while a Border Collie would likely enjoy a more challenging, hilly hike.
7. Ensure Your Dog's Vaccinations Are Current
The great outdoors is a beautiful place, but it can also harbor various diseases for you four-legged buddy. To protect your pooch, ensure their vaccinations (such as the lyme vaccine, which is only available for dogs and not humans – lucky ducks) and preventive treatments (like flea and tick control) are up-to-date before you embark on your camping adventure.
8. Use Dog Pens and Tethers for Safe Containment
Think of a portable dog pen or a sturdy tether as your dog's personal retreat within the campsite.
These tools, when used respectfully and under supervision, can provide a safe, contained space for your dog when you're busy setting up the tent or cooking dinner.
While it’s not unusual for people to let their dogs run free off-leash while camping, we don’t really recommend it.
Your dog could get up to mischief eating a poisonous plant or engaging with dangerous wildlife when you’re not looking.
If you do want your dog to be able to have off-leash time, make sure you only let your dog roam in designated off-leash areas and only with a dog who has learned to come when called, even around distractions.
9. Don't Forget About Hydration
Like us, dogs need to stay hydrated, especially when they're active. Make sure to pack enough water for both of you and don't forget to bring a collapsible, lightweight bowl for your pup.
If you’re concerned about your pup getting enough hydration, feeding a wet or fresh food can be a great way to bump up your dog’s water intake, as these moist foods have considerably higher water content than dry kibble. A fresh food from A Pup Above would do just the trick!
10. Try a Mock Camping Session at Home
A trial run at home can help your dog acclimate to the idea of camping. Set up your tent in your backyard, roll out sleeping bags, and have a fun sleepover under the stars!
This dress rehearsal will give you an idea of how your furry friend might react to the real thing.
While all dogs can benefit from a trial run, this is especially essential for more nervous or skittish dogs. Some ultra-sensitive pups may benefit from several trial-run camping sessions in the backyard, or at a campsite that’s close to home so that you can just do an easy overnight before an entire weekend away.
Bio: Meg Marrs is the founder of K9 of Mine, a dog care website dedicated to helping owners to better understand and take the very best care of their four-legged companions.