Dogs are our best buds, and they make any adventure all the more fun. So, of course, we want to take our dogs when we go camping. However, bringing our fur friends requires a bit more effort if you use a tent rather than an RV. But we’ve got 20 tips on camping with dogs to help smooth the journey.
How to go camping with a dog in a tent in 20 easy steps:
- Only camp where dogs are welcome
- Do not leave dogs alone
- Have flea and tick up-to-date
- Fit collars with your details
- Bring extra insulation for the dog bed
- Bring a playpen for smaller puppers
- Have plenty of bags for dog waste
- Bring a dog first aid kit with a tick key
- And more…
Table of Contents
1. Select A Dog Friendly Tent
Dogs bring added joy to camping, but they also take up room. A two-person tent might be big enough for a single person and a fur pal, but it won’t stretch to sleeping for three unless your pupper is a chihuahua.
A dog-friendly tent also requires:
- Easy cleaning
- Easy maintenance
- Good ventilation
Larger dog-friendly tents often feature a separate screened section where the dogs are “in” the tent without being “in with you.” Having a separate, less insulated area helps dogs that easily get hot or have a habit of licking your face at o’dark early.
2. Introduce Your Dog To The Tent Before Camping
Introduce your dogs to the tent before setting off. It will help anxious dogs, bringing some sense of familiarity when you reach the new setting. Letting them scope out the tent also allows you to note any “spooky” corners and to introduce new sounds from Velcro, zippers, and flapping panels.
Showing dogs the tent beforehand also cuts back on the “excitement” some of the more energetic pets display when being presented with a new adventure. Yes, the dogs will still go bananas when reaching the site. But at least at bedtime, you have a fighting chance of them calming down.
3. Only Camp Where Dogs Are Welcome
It’s essential to only camp where your dogs are welcome. Failure to do so risks making your trip a bummer and putting your dogs in danger. Also, consider trying out a roomy, less populated dog-friendly camping area if this is your first time camping with your best friend, or you have multiple tail-waggers. Crowded campsites often result in excessive barking and grumpy neighbors.
When selecting a dog-friendly campground, read the rules carefully. Almost all demand that your pet is on a leash or tether at all times. However, some places ban dogs from certain sections of the grounds, such as beaches, docks, or play areas. These restrictions might make camping in those locations too challenging to have a nice vacation.
Most campgrounds will clearly state their rules regarding pets. But if you don’t see any information, try to contact the place in advance. Also, if you enjoy exploring US National Parks, they have a handy map showing where your dog will be welcome.
4. Sleep With Your Dogs In Your Tent; Do Not Tether
Do not leave your dogs outside of the tent at night. A tethered dog is vulnerable to other animals. Even if you are not camping in predator country, with bears or mountain lions roaming about, there are skunks and porcupines to consider. Even a raccoon can make your dog’s night miserable.
Dogs also have a habit of barking more when in unfamiliar areas. This is because they hear unfamiliar sounds, and there are new smells in the air, all of which cause them to be unusually vocal. Such ruckus will not only disrupt your sleep but the rest of the campground.
Get a tent with a separate screened area if you have a dog (or more) that won’t leave you in peace while trying to sleep. These tents will keep your pet safe while also giving you space. Alternatively, bring your dog’s crate or playpen to keep your pet from running around the inside of the tent.
5. Do Not Leave Dogs Alone When Camping
Do not leave dogs alone when camping. Never mind the animals that could bother them; some small child might let the “sad doggy” free, wanting to play, only for your frantic pet to race off, looking for you.
Also, when left alone, dogs have a habit of barking their heads off. Even quiet “mine never barks” find their vocal cords when their person is gone. The rest of the campground doesn’t want to hear it.
Lastly, pets attract other animals to a campsite. Even if these wild and curious visitors don’t do anything to your dog, these critters could wreak havoc on your tent and coolers or even mess with your car. That’s an expensive mistake.
6. Have Dogs’ Vaccinations, Flea, And Tick Up To Date
Ensure your dogs’ vaccinations and flea, tick, and worm treatments are up-to-date before camping. Dogs love to explore, make new pupper friends, and might even eat the droppings of a wild critter. Of course, encasing your best friend in armor won’t help, but vet-approved treatments will provide an excellent defense.
7. Fit The Dogs With An LED Collar
Dogs are not as stealthy as cats, but even so, they can sometimes curl up at night and be hard to find. Ensure you can locate your canine by fitting them with an LED collar. Especially useful, so you don’t trip over your pet.
When looking for a dog collar, find one that’s water resistant enough to handle rain, such as Illumiseen, which is also USB rechargeable. However, if you are camping anywhere near a pond, lake, or ocean, get them a waterproof model. For example, Masbrill’s can handle being soaked for about an hour.
8. Fit Dog Collars With A GPS Tracker
Dogs can wander off for random reasons when exploring the outdoors. Sometimes it is for as silly of a reason as chasing after a squirrel (some cliches are true). Nervous or anxious pets sometimes run off in fright after hearing a bang or other unfamiliar noises.
Thankfully, there are a number of GPS tracker systems you can fit on your dog’s collar. These trackers can link up with your phone. Some pet-parent favorites include:
- Whistle Go Explore GPS
- Tractive Waterproof GPS
- Jiobit, which works for small dogs, as it is also suitable for cats
9. Fit Dog Collars With Your Details And Campsite
Ensure your cell phone number and campsite are also on the dog’s collar, even if you have a GPS. This doesn’t have to be fancy. You can use the old fashion keyrings with labels or cheap and cheerful keyring disks. But bring extra in case your dog gets wet and the labels smear.
You can also look for personalized options. Getting your campsite on there is difficult, but at least your phone number can be added to:
10. Bring A Printed Photo Of Your Dogs When Camping
Take a printed photograph of your dog (or dogs) when camping. Unfortunately, phone signals are sometimes terrible, and batteries die, so digital snaps are not always useable in the wilderness. But a printed copy can easily be shared in an emergency, even if everyone’s cell is out of order.
11. Bring Extra Insulation For Dog Beds Even If Elevated
Dog beds require extra insulation when camping, just like humans add a pad under their sleeping bag. The additional layer doesn’t have to be fancy; even a few old towels are a thick blanket will do.
Older canines and arthritic fur friends will probably find an elevated bed more accessible. However, these will still require a thick blanket to help ward off the chill coming up the tent floor.
Also, if your dog’s bedding isn’t camping friendly, there are some excellent tent options:
- Furhaven has a backpacker-friendly dog bed
- Lifeunion has a compactable dog sleeping bag
- YEP HHO has a foldable elevated dog cot
- Snoozer Cozy Cave is ideal for small dogs and has a thick foundation
- Petmaker’s Portable Memory Foam is a good idea for sore dogs that can’t use an elevated bed
12. Make A Tether By Stringing A Rope Between Trees
You can’t hold your dog’s leash the entire camping trip. Also, dogs like to be able to move about. Thus, bring rope, a zip line, or a wire and string it between two trees. Then clip the dog’s lead to the line, so they have greater movement while complying with the campground’s leash rules.
You can also buy tether kits if you want to ensure the lines and clips will hold. Sturdy and camping-friendly kits include:
Safety tip: Ensure your dog’s lead doesn’t reach the firepit or camp stove. Clumsy canines can cause havoc near these areas.
13. Bring A Tie-Out To Tether The Dog
Campsites don’t always come with two convenient trees to tether your dog. Thus, you need a tether system you can stake.
Some excellent options include:
- Expawlorer Dog Tie-out
- Lixit Retractable Cable Stake
- IntelliLeash Mini for small dogs (anchor only, you provide your own leash or cable)
As with above, ensure you stake your dog far enough away that they can’t get tangled up in the camp stove or accidentally knock a log out of the fire pit.
14. Bring A Dog Playpen For Smaller Puppers
Some dogs have a special gift for tangling themselves up in cables and leads. Then some four-legged friends simply prefer the illusion of freedom. If so, a dog playpen might be the daytime solution to hanging out with your canine friends without a leash.
Some excellent camp-friendly playpen options include:
15. Have Plenty Of Bags For Dog Waste
Your dog might be answering nature’s call, but owners can’t leave it there. Their waste mucks up campsites and trails. So be a considerate human and pick up after your pet. An Okydoky leash carrier and bag dispenser will make the job less messy.
16. Do Not Feed Dogs In A Tent Or Leave Food Around
Do not ever feed your dog in your tent. It is crucial safety advice in bear country. But even in areas with smaller animals about, you don’t want your tent attracting vermin or raccoons.
Also, only have food in dog bowls during feeding time. Don’t leave it hanging around to attract unwanted guests. Even folks who find mice cute are less than delighted when a skunk wanders in for lunch.
17. Fit Your Dogs With Hiking Backpacks
Taking dogs hiking is fantastic but also comes with extra gear, including water, waste bags, first aid gear, and portable bowls. So have your dog help with the load by fitting them with a hiking backpack.
Some models to consider are:
18. Fit Dogs With Life Preservers If Boating
If you are going to take your dog onto the water, get a lifejacket. Yes, many dogs can paddle, but just like humans, they can tire when out too far. Also, certain breeds, like pugs, failed swim school.
Excellent lifejackets for your best pal include:
19. Bring A Doggie First Aid Kit With Tick Key
If you are assembling your own bow-wow first aid kit or supplementing a prepacked one, consider the following additions:
20. Bring A Dog Shower, Grooming Equipment, And Extra Towels
Dogs can find the best messes. As cute and adorable as it is to see your four-legged pals living their best lives, it’s a pain in the ruff when it’s bedtime. Nobody wants to sleep with that kind of dirt-stink in their tent.
Thus, take along some pet cleaning supplies, including a brush and extra towels. Also, the shower facilities at campgrounds typically don’t allow canines. So bring an outdoor dog shower, which attaches to your standard soda bottle. But for smaller messes, just use some pet-friendly wipes.