It’s officially camping season, and there’s no better camping companion than your dog. Keep your pooch safe with these helpful tips for camping with dogs.
For you, camping is about relaxing in front of a fire, exploring nature, and stepping away from the daily grind of city life. For your dog, camping is the opportunity to explore a whole new world. Camping with dogs requires a little bit of preparation to ensure that your dog stays safe and has fun.
10 Tips for Camping with Dogs
Whether you are an expert camper or a novice fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of camper, like me, bringing your dog along for the adventure requires a bit of planning and the right tools. To help you keep your dog safe so you can both enjoy camping, we put together 10 tips for camping with dogs.
Before you go:
1. Check the Rules
Before you can hit the road, make sure that your campground is pet-friendly. You’d hate to get there only to find out your pooch is barred or will have minimal access. Many family campground have rules about how and if pets are allowed at that site.
2. Bring the Right Gear
Make sure you make a checklist of pet products that you’ll need to bring and double-check it before you leave the house. Basics like a leash, collar, harness and ID tags are just a few of the important things you need to bring to keep your dog safe.
It’s better to be prepared for the worst, so another essential tool to bring along is a pet first aid kit.
Don't forget about any activities you plan to enjoy while you are camping. Hiking and swimming both require a little extra gear to ensure your dog will be safe. A good dog backpack, durable hiking boots, or a life jacket are all things to consider bringing on your trip.
Check out our Camping Gear Guide for a complete checklist of dog camping gear essentials.
3. Practice Your Recall
It’s best to keep your dog leashed or on a tie-out at your campsite, but good recall is still important. If your dog accidentally got loose, you need to be able to call him back quickly and safely.
Practice at home or in your yard using a recall lead or long leash. Make sure to pack lots of tasty snacks to encourage your dog to stay close by.
Make sure your dog's ID, vaccines, and licensing are up to date and on him at all times, just in case he does manage to sneak away.
When you arrive:
4. Get the Lay of the Land
As soon as you get to the campsite, try to mark a perimeter and walk your dog around the perimeter on leash, letting him sniff and experience the area.
Giving him a boundary can offer comfort and will help your dog feel safer in his “territory.” You can even use visual cues, like flags or a coloured strings to mark the boundary.
5. Provide Shelter
One of the first things you do when getting to a campsite is to set up your tent. When you bring your dog camping, be prepared to share that tent with him.
It’s unsafe to leave your dog outside of the tent at night, so scooch over and don’t hog the sleeping bag, or better yet, get him his own.
Don't forget to offer shelter during the day too. The scorching afternoon sun can be dangerous to your dog, so make sure you set up shaded areas and offer plenty of water to prevent overheating, dehydration, and sun burns.
Check out How to Cool Down Your Dog for some easy tips on keeping your dogs body temperature down.
During your adventure:
6. Stay Hydrated
Wilderness survival rule # 1 is to have fresh, clean water. This applies to your dog too. Hot summer days, hiking, and other adventurous activities are going to leave your dog feeling parched. Always bring more water than you need.
Make sure you know how much water your dog needs every day to stay healthy and hydrated.
Help keep him cool too. Dogs can quickly overheat, so make sure you keep his temperature down with the right shelter, protection, and hydration.
7. Stick to a Routine
This may be a vacation, but if this is your dog’s first camping trip, he might be a little nervous about being so out of his element. The best way to curb anxiety is to offer some structure and routine. Offer him some sense of normalcy.
Regular mealtimes, bathroom breaks, and physical and mental activity can all help. Bring toys and plan activities that will keep your dog occupied and calm.
8. Fire Safety
Chances are your dog is either going to be terrified or fascinated with the campfire. Either way, it’s essential to keep your dog a safe distance from the fire to protect him from the heat and free-floating embers.
Most of your food and snacks will be cooked over the fire, so your dog may be extra curious of that area. Use a tie out or leash to keep him back from the fire pit, and offer him a comfortable, safe place to relax on, like a bed, mat, or dog sleeping bag.
9. Be Courteous
Whether you are at a campground or just a secluded area in the woods, make sure you are courteous in that space. Of course, you should clean up after yourself, but make sure you clean-up after your dog too.
Properly disposing of your dog’s bathroom needs is not only polite, it’s also safe. Your dog’s droppings could attract unwanted attention from wildlife. When possible, bury your dog's poop at least 200 ft from the trail or your campsite.
Also, be mindful of other campers around you. Make sure your dog is not disturbing other campers by barking, whining, or invading their space. Make sure you bring durable toys or or long lasting chews to keep your dog entertained during your down time.
10. Wildlife Encounters
When you are out in the wilderness, you could come in contact with a variety of wildlife. Make sure you are keeping your pet close and on a leash or tie out.
It’s also a good idea to put a bear bell and an LED light, like the Nite Ize Safety Necklace to ward off unwanted encounters. Most wild animals don’t want to engage you or your dog, so the sound is a great way to give them a heads up that your dog is coming their way, giving them time to retreat.
Camping is a great way to help your dog explore new environments, get some exercise, and learn new skills. We hope these tips will help you keep your dog safe and make his first camping trip fun, relaxing, and exciting.
Do you take your dog camping? Share your tips for camping with your dog in the comments below.
Posted by Krystn Janisse
Krystn is a passionate pet nutrition enthusiast. She has worked in the pet industry for over a decade and loves to share her passion for animal welfare with others. She loves all animals but is currently channelling some crazy cat lady vibes with her five lovable, but rebellious cats.