You may be wondering if you should take your dog camping with you or if they will even enjoy the experience. This guide will give you tips about camping with dogs to make sure you know what to expect before you plan your next camping trip.
Dogs love the outdoors and especially enjoy hiking and camping. However, there are a few steps you must take when planning your trip to make sure you and your pup stay safe and don’t break any camp rules which could cause you to have to leave your campsite earlier than planned. Although your dog may be properly trained, camping involves spending time outdoors in unfamiliar territory and your dog may exhibit some negative traits that aren’t exactly their fault – it’s just new sounds, smells and people may take them out of their daily routine and can cause behavior issues.
Camping with dogs will make great memories for you and your pup and can be some of the most fun you’ve ever had while camping. However, you need to go through this checklist to make sure you have everything you need.
How to Prepare to Camp with Your Dog
While you may be able to handle new places and experiences with ease, your dog may act out or not listen to your commands the same way they do at home. Remember, your dog is going to experience environments he or she arent’ accustomed to such as new people, wild animals, new trees, and nature in general. This is why it’s incredibly important to plan ahead for every potential situation so that you and your dog will have a camping trip to remember (for the right reasons).
Campground Regulations and Rules
Every campground has its own set of rules for campers and it’s important to either call ahead or check their website to make sure you know what’s allowed and what you can’t do. This is especially true of dog owners because some campsites don’t allow them. Here is a list of questions to ask when you call or review their website:
- Are dogs allowed: Obviously, this is your first task to determine whether dogs are allowed at the campsite.
- Bark rules: While all dogs bark, some dogs bark too much and can make other campers uncomfortable or agitated. We can all agree that people have varying opinions on this subject,but the fact is that they have control over the rules. If your dog barks non-stop, they may ask you to relocate.
- Aggressive breeds: I know this is a touchy subject for dog owners, but some places do not allow certain breeds in the campground. It’s rare, but I’ve seen it before and you should be prepared or call ahead.
- Does your dog get along with other dogs: If your dog is aggressive or attacks other dogs, you may be asked to leave.
We’ve stayed at multiple campgrounds that have plenty of activities for dogs and they try to make it a fun experience for your pets. Some even have dog parks where your furry friend can run wild and exert some energy.
Take Your Dog to the Vet
This is often an overlooked step when taking camping with dogs, but you need to visit your vet to make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations, flea and tick treatments (you never know what’s in the woods), and to make sure he or she is healthy enough for the trip since there may also be some hiking involved. You may also want to get your dog microchipped in case you lose your little friend while at the campsite. Remember, your dog will be surrounded by new smells, sounds and people and may accidentally wander off or get lost.
Pack These Items:
You probably already know what you need to pack for yourself, but your dog needs a few additional items to be comfortable on the camping trip. This is a basic list of dog camping essentials and you can always add more items if needed:
- Water bowl – I’m partial to the Yeti Boomer Dog Bowl
- Plenty of dog food (Always bring extra because your dog may get hungrier after hiking and you never know how long you will be camping.
- Dog harness
- Medications if they take them
- Dog toys in case they get bored
- Dog sleeping bag (Yes, they make these)
- ID tag in case they get lost in a crowd of campers
- Doggy bags for waste (Most campsites require you to clean up after your pooch)
- Stake (Many places won’t allow you to leave your dog tied up outside, but you may have to secure them while outside)
- Plenty of dog treats
- Dog backpack (These are actually awesome!)
How to Keep Your Dog Safe While Camping
Camping with dogs can be an incredibly fun adventure, but you have to take a few precautions to make sure you and your dog stay safe and avoid injury. Ask around to see what you may expect in the area as far as ticks, snakes or other dangerous animals so you can be prepared. You may be in unfamiliar territory and unaware of some dangers that the locals can tell you about.
Overheating is a major concern when camping and hiking with dogs. It’s important to do your part to make sure your pup stays safe. You can prevent your dog from overheating by watching for a few symptoms such as:
- Heavy panting
- Aggressiveness when they’re usually docile
- Check their gums and tongue often for dry gums and redder tongue than usual
- Unexplained weakness
- Breathing hard
It’s a good idea to keep a first-aid kid for yourself, but also for your dog. You can use your thermometer to check your pup’s body temperature. If they get above 104 degrees then you may have an issue that needs to be looked at. You can cool your dog by bringing him or her into a camper or RV if they’re around or bring them to the Rangers’ office and get in the air conditioning. You may need to take them to a vet if you can’t get them to cool down.
Camping with Dogs in Tents VS RV
Your dog will love camping in either a tent, RV, camper or even a cabin. While tent camping may be the hardest of all choices, it’s not too bad if you keep a few things in mind while planning your trip such as:
- Extra noise: Will your dog constantly bark at any noise they hear? Campsites can be noisy all night and early morning, but you can use a sound machine or fan to keep your dog quiet and relaxed.
- Is your tent big enough: Dogs don’t take up much room in a tent, but they may get antsy and want to pace back and forth. Make sure you have plenty of space in your tent to give you both enough space to enjoy yourselves. Keep in mind your bags will take up some space so plan accordingly.
- Secure your tent: Dogs are inquisitive by nature and may slip out of the tent while you’re sleeping or early in the morning and go on their own little adventure without you. Just be sure to zip your tent all the way to keep them inside at night.
Just Have Fun
The most important thing about camping with dogs is that you both have a great time and make lasting memories. We go camping all the time and bring our dog with us and while it wasn’t easy at first, we made a few simple adjustments and thoroughly enjoy ourselves each time.