Camping With Dogs? Here's What You Need to Know.

If you've ever taken your pup out for camping, then you know that the situation is not as you first anticipated. Hence this monster guide for camping with dogs.

In this guide, you will learn:

And much much more...

dog face

Most dogs are usually left in the care of a local pet sitter or loved one while their owners go camping merely because the higher the number the more demanding the planning. That, or their owners simply don't know where to begin when it comes to camping with dogs.

Let's start with the basics. Why should you go to the extent of bringing your dog camping with you? It's simple; because he's part of your family and last we checked family outings were for all family members.

So worry not pet parents. With a little preparation, you can be sure that your next family trip will be inclusive of your WHOLE family.

Both seasoned and novice campers will have an enjoyable and peaceful stay if they willingly follow these rules.

Content Overview

dog paw


Getting Ready

dog having fun


At the Campsite



Dog Camping Checklist

Section 1: Getting Ready

In this section, you will learn the measures to take before embarking on a camping trip with your dog through a number of steps that will involve a packing checklist and prior preparations.

dog paw

1. Is Your Dog Ready for Camping?

First things first; you need to determine whether Fido is ready for camping.

Introducing dogs to a new environment without prior preparation can be a nerve-wrecking experience for them especially when you intend to stay in the new environment for a while.

Here's how you should determine whether your dog is ready for camping:

Establish your dog's personality

Much like people, you need to establish your dog's personality so as to know whether a camping trip is the most suitable adventure for them or not.

To do so, take note of factors such as, "are they usually excited or nervous around new people?" If your dog is the type to get excited around new people and environments then a camping trip would be more than appropriate for them.

However, that does not mean that reserved dogs should not be included during such family outings. It just means that as a dog-owner, you'll need to do a bit of homework preparing your dog for the trip. If your dog is the vocal type that gets excited to the point that they can't restrain themselves then you will also need to prepare them for the trip as sadly, not all humans are dog-lovers.

Aside from that, you will also need to take keen note of factors such as "does your dog dislike being tied to a leash?" "Are they the outdoorsy type or are they more used to the indoors?" "Are they aggressive and noisy or not? You will then focus on gearing your dog's behavior from socially unacceptable to socially appropriate.

Establishing your dog's personality is also important as it may help you establish the type of campground to visit. For instance, if your dog is more outgoing then a backcountry adventure would suit them. Conversely, if he/she is used to the indoors then a private campground may be more suitable.

Even so, adequate preparation is key when camping with dogs.

Determine the physical fitness of your dog

After establishing your dog's personality you need to ask yourself, "Is my dog up to task?"

Camping presents more opportunities for walking and running than your dog is used to at home. Your dog thus needs to be in good shape to meet the demands of activities such as hiking that usually accompany camping.

A good way of determining the physical fitness if your dog is to look into your morning walk routines. If you find that your dog has trouble keeping up during longer than normal walks then perhaps you should leave your furry friend at home. This is especially important if you have to hike to get to your camping spot.

Practice camping at home

You next task after determining your dog's personality and physical fitness is to familiarize your dog with the concept of camping especially if your dog is a novice camper.

You can do so by planning short adventures such as a picnic at the park. With these, your dog will start experiencing and getting used to nature. Increase the number of the trips as you approach the day of the trip.

Now that your dog has no qualms with the outdoors, you can pitch your tent in your backyard to get your dog used to being in a confined area for long periods. During your test run at home, stay within the tent and give him a treat inside as well to enhance a sense of homeliness. Go a step further and bring the same dog bed and bowl you intend to use when camping into your camp at home. This will sensitize your dog to camping as a whole.

Note that other than your dog being ready for the trip, you also need to ensure that you are aware of the rules that encircle travelling with dogs. For instance, you need to take a 15 minute to half hour break for every three hours of driving especially if your trip is lengthy.

These steps will aid in ensuring that your dog will be comfortable during the trip.

2. Research Pet-Friendly Campsites

The next thing you need to is to conduct a research on pet-friendly campsites. Nothing is more discouraging than arriving at a campsite only to find that ‘No Dogs Allowed' sign that restricts your four-legged buddy's entry.

Sure snuggling at home with your dog is a great way to bond but there is something about those crisp early mornings with man's best friend that make camping more ideal. That is why you need to either call ahead or conduct an online research beforehand.

Decide on whether you will be backpacking or camping at a private campground before making a reservation as well. Because you are looking for an area where you can comfortably camp with your dog, backpacking may be more appropriate as it is more lenient with pet rules. In the same way, private campgrounds albeit being stricter, have better amenities.

There are a plethora of pet-friendly campgrounds that are welcoming of every member of your camping crew. Bring Fido is also another great place to start when scouting for an appropriate campsite for you and your dog.

Find out the campground's pet policy

After establishing whether your pet is allowed or not. You need to enquire about the pet policy of your campground of choice as they vary from one campground to the other.

For instance, while some campgrounds allow pets they might have a limit on the number of dogs per campsite. Some have restrictions on the size and breed too. Most press that excessive barking and any kind of aggressive behavior is unacceptable.

While you're at it, find out whether there are any leash laws. While most campsites welcome pets, they require that they remain constrained by a leash. On the other hand, others are more relaxed and only require you to be fully liable for your pet. Beyond that, there are also regulations on the maximum leash length allowed.

Additionally, you need to be aware of any extra charges for pets and even restricted areas within the campgrounds. Equally important, you need to establish whether there are any pet-sitters available on camp so that you can comfortably participate in activities that pets can't to partake in.

Failure to follow these policies can cost you a huge sum of money in legal fees therefore you best be aware of them.

Dog-friendly activities

In addition to finding out whether your furry friend is allowed in a campground and the policies guiding that, you also want to find out whether there are any dog-friendly activities that your dog can participate in. There's no need to bring along your pooch only to have it remain at camp for most of the trip. Your dog want to have fun too!

Find out whether there any nearby amenities that cater to dogs. For instance, some beaches allow dogs while others have restrictions of them. Some campgrounds are more accommodating and have dog-friendly trails while others do not. Therefore you'll need an alternative that works for both you and your dog.

Once satisfied then you can make a reservation.

3. Visit the Vet

After securing your campsite, it is important to determine whether your dog is healthy and up to date with vaccination before setting out for your trip. You do not want to put our dog's health at risk, nor yours or that of other campers.

Begin by asking your vet whether it is advisable to take your dog camping. Once you get the go-ahead then proceed to take of care of necessary shots.

Campgrounds usually specify which shots are necessary but even without specifications, the choice of vaccinating your dog is a medically-wise decision. For most campgrounds, submission of up-to-date records of vaccinations against rabies before hosting you is a must.

While you're at it, be sure to refill preventive medications against ticks, fleas and heartworms at this appointment. Remember, it is better to work with your regular vet as finding a veterinarian on the go can be both hectic and expensive.

4. Organize Your Dog's Documents

Now that your dog's health status has been certified by your vet, your next step is to get all their papers in order.

Begin by laminating all identification information, from its description to its name. Be sure to include your contact information in its tag so that you can be easily contacted in case of anything. For easy accessibility, attach the tag to its collar.

You will also need to ensure that your pet license is up to date and that you have proof of ownership of the pet.

Have your dog's vaccine records with you as well as you travel. This will verify their health history which is especially important when travelling cross-country.

Next, ensure that your dog's microchip information is also up to date. If it is not micro-chipped then consider getting that done as it is the best means of tracking your dog and getting it back in case it gets lost and loses its tag.

Lastly, snap photos of your canine friend. This will come in handy in case you lose sight of your dog and need to recruit help to it.


Be sure to include your campsite number on your dog's ID tag for easier identification in case of any problems.

5. Refresh Your Dog's Training

Before Fido jumps into the car, you need to ensure that he is properly trained. This training is particularly important to ensure that your dog has camp-friendly etiquette.

More than anything, you need to consider that while you may completely adore your canine that is not the case for everyone.

You therefore need to learn how to communicate with Fido. Ask yourself, "Does she listen and respond to my commands?" One of the most basic responsible camping with dogs rules is to keep your dog away from other campers. As such, your voice command has to be taken with seriousness in order to bring a semblance of order.

Polish up on the ‘leave it' command so that your dog remains safe from dangers such as bears, mountain lions, snakes or poisonous plants such as poison oak or poison ivy. Your training also has to be set so that your dog resists tasting human food, more so that of fellow campers.

Ultimately, the goal is to not only know your dog's personality but also learn its body language. You need to know what irks it and how can you calm him down. That way, you can anticipate how they will react around certain things in the outdoors.

The benefits of a well-trained dog include being quiet and willing to help dig the fire pit, collect firewood among other campsite activities.

6. Include Dog Supplies In Your Camping Checklist

When it comes to planning a camping trip, packing is the most fundamental stage. Arriving at your campsite and realizing that you forgot to pack essentials can be such a downer. So while you are creating your checklist, remember to include dog-specific items.

We have assembled a dog-specific checklist which we will revisit later in this article, to make camping with your dog relatively easy.

Essentially, you'll want to pack collapsible bowls for food and treats to reward good behavior. If you'll be going hiking then you definitely want to have items such as a dog backpack and hiking shoes with you.

Include extra towels if your dog will be swimming and extra blankets for those infamous extra cold camping nights. Invest in a canopy to prevent your dog from overheating and a jacket or sweater if winter camping.

You will also need a nightlight or a reflective leash that you will to tie to your dog's collar so you can spot him at night is also important. Include a travel dog shower that attaches to your water bottle as well. You'll definitely need this if your dog loves to roll around in mud.

Supplies such as a dog playpen will help your dog feel safe and secure. Lastly, a dog gear travel bag is key when it comes to organization as you will have a dedicated bag for dog items.

7. Pack Light Foods

When backpacking, your dog's food should be have enough calories to keep up its energy levels. Other campsite activities will also take up a lot of its energy. Therefore, high energy foods are important.

It is however not advisable to change your dog's diet when camping as it may be bothersome to his stomach. You therefore need to bring 25% more of your pup's regular food in addition to the food bag.

It is also advisable to stick as close to your dog's regular eating routine to avoid tiring it out. The goal, similar to your own food is to pack light foods with high calories that do not add to the weight of your bag, especially if you will be backpacking.

8. Bring Your Dog's Favorite Gear

Much like kids, your four-legged companions get scared when placed in a completely new environment. To enhance a comfort and a sense of familiarity, pack your dog's favorite toys, blanket or roll-up bed.

They will be able to sleep easily if they feel safe especially as the scent of these items eases their anxiety. Pack the same blanket you use at home as it will keep them not only cozy but also quiet at night.

As a bonus, chew toys will keep them busy as you go about other activities so you will not have to worry about your dog's whereabouts.

Essentially, these familiar objects will help your dog quickly adjust to the new environment and make a new home away from home.

9. Prepare for Medical Emergencies

You'll be out in the woods. While you'll be guaranteed to have fun, it would be careless to forget that danger is always lurking in the outdoors.

There are a lot of medical emergency situations involving dogs. These require you to be able to calmly assess them, ensure the safety of your dog and then call your vet or determine the location of the nearest American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

A pet-specific first aid kit, which can be acquired from any pet supply store, is very handy in such medical situations.

Having pet first aid knowledge beforehand is a double plus. If you are not knowledgeable then ensure that your first aid kit includes a basic pet first aid guide book.

Basically, as a dog owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your dog is safe and healthy. Part of that responsibility entails knowing the right measures to take to remedy a medical emergency.

10. Plan the Sleeping Arrangement

Before you hit the trail, you need to determine whether your dog will sleep ‘loosely' alongside you in your tent, in a crate or outside the tent. That way, there won't be any discomfort once you get to the campsite.

Most campgrounds require that your dog remains inside a tent or vehicle as part of their pet policy.

Choosing to co-sleep with your dog inside is a great choice as you get to protect them from the cold and danger of wild animals yet still be alerted in case of danger thanks to dogs' great sense of smell and hearing. It can also help them keep noise at a minimum which is a basic campsite rule.

Select an appropriate tent

Because sleeping inside a tent is the best choice then you should have a dog tent or co-sleep with your dog. If you decide on co-sleeping then your tent should be large enough to accommodate you and your pet.

For comfort, when choosing an appropriate camping tent the rule of the thumb is to always go up by one person. For instance, you should purchase a three person tent for two people. In the same way, when considering the sleeping space for your family camping trip, count your dog as a person.

Be sure to also bring a sleeping pad to protect your dog from the uncomfortable sleeping ground.

Now that you have adequately prepared for your trip, your last task is to ensure that there's enough space in the car for the pooch and you'll be good to go.

Section 2: At the Campsite

These are a couple of guidelines that you ought to follow during your stay at the camp site that will ensure that you, your dog and fellow campers have a delightful experience.

dog having fun

1. Observe Good Campsite Etiquette

Responsible camping with dogs involves being mindful of fellow campers and being aware of restricted areas. Being able to practice these guidelines is dependent on one main camping requirement; that is to ensure that your dog is supervised at all times.

At no point should you leave your dog unattended as there are many down sides to this. For starters, your dog could wander off and be a nuisance to other campers or much worse encounter wild animals.

Some campers may not want to be bothered by foreign dogs while others are simply terrified of them. If your dog is the extra-friendly type then for the sake of non-dog enthusiasts, keep them on a leash. If your dog is the type to chase after things when it gets too excited then you should opt for a harness.

Another rule that you need to follow is that you should never leave your dog unattended EVEN if it is tied to a leash. This is detrimental as it leaves them defenseless in case of an attack from wild animals or bad weather. Even if danger is at bay, your dog may start continuously barking and end up causing noise disturbance which might get you kicked out of the camping ground.

Going about regular camping activities with a dog around you is however not completely practical. For instance, it is also almost impossible to roast hotdogs with a certain canine being on the loose. That is why you need a tie-out stake. This gear ensures that your dog will be free to roam around yet still remain close to you.

Just ensure that the anchor is secure in the dirt before going about your business as a dog can easily detach itself from a loose anchor.


If you are camping with more than one dog, a zip line will be particularly handy as it will prevent the leashes from getting tangled up.

With these equipment, you can stare up at the stares and enjoy the tranquility of camping nights without having to worry about your dog causing unwanted trouble.

2. Health and Safety

Every so often you'll need to check on your dog's ears and nose for seeds or foxtails. However, there are other things in the wild that are far more dangerous. You need to be attentive to your dog's health as new environments pose a potential threat to their health.

Health safety

Other than being a nuisance to fellow campers, when a dog is off-leash, it remains vulnerable to the dangers of the woods. Having your dog on leash thus works as a safety precaution to protect them from taking off and ending up tangled in poisonous plants.

The next health precaution that you ought to take is to check your dog for any ticks, cuts or thorns especially on paw pads. Be sure to bring a comb or brush with you to remove cacti that causes discomfort.

A lot of these pre-cautions are concurrent with your own because much like humans, tick bites can result in long-term health problems such as acquiring Lyme disease for dogs. After you check yourself for ticks at the end of the day, be sure to do the same for dogs.

Animal safety

Having your dog with you pretty much protects them from wild animals. Want to know what else it does? It protects other animals from your dog as well. A leash will ensure that you are in control of your dog. Therefore, it will be less likely to chase deer.

As you check on the leash, be sure that the collar fits correctly. Loose collars make it easy for your dog to duck out in case they get frightened in the woods. Before leaving for your trip, ensure that you replace any old loose collars.

Another precaution you'll need to take is to only bring out food during meal time to avoid attracting wild animals. Similarly, take an extra measure to remove any leftover after meal time.

3. Comfort

Your dog ought to be as comfortable as it would be at home in order to fully enjoy the camping trip. Do the following to enhance their comfort:

Keep your dog warm at night

In spite of being fur-coated your dog still needs protection from the low temperatures at night. A cuddle will keep both of you warm but extra blankets are more important for this task.

Keep your dog hydrated

Just like you would at home, be sure to refill your dog's bowl with water. It is easy to get caught up in the adventure and forget about your dog's needs.

Your dog needs to be properly hydrated as it gets thirsty while you are partaking in camping activities such as hiking. Signs such as excessive panting should alert you that your dog needs a refill.

Furthermore dogs can easily overheat therefore in addition to shade, your dog definitely needs water.

Protect your dog's paws

During summer when the ground is too hot to walk on, ensure that your dog has dog booties to protect their paws.

However, paws don't just need to be protected from the heat of summer. They also need protection from snow during winter. Having a wax paw protector is convenient for such extreme weather conditions.

4. Ensure That Your Dog Gets Plenty of Exercise

It might be tempting to conclude that your dog doesn't need exercise because it is in the outdoors. However, a well-exercised dog is a healthy dog. Akin to humans, dogs require regular exercise to avoid health issues such as obesity.

To keep your do well-exercised take in your regular morning and evening walks. Sticking to their routine will aid in adjusting to the new environment.

Furthermore, the more worn out your dog is, the less likely it is to cause disturbance by fussing or barking throughout the night Again, while your dog is welcome in these sites, the requirement is that they do not cause disturbance to fellow campers. Therefore those regular morning and evening walks are important.

However, in as much as exercising is advised, you should be keen on your dog's energy level. Dogs can get really tired and still strive to keep going. You do not want this to affect their health through exhaustion or heat stroke.

The exercise should therefore not ne excessive nor lacking during your trip.

5. Practice ‘Leave No Trace' Ethics

Similar to camping on your own, ‘Leave No Trace' ethics ought to be followed.

During your stay you should practice proper disposal of waste by picking up after your dog. Dog waste damages the environment by depositing fecal coliform which causes soil and water contamination.

Collecting dog waste is also a means of being courteous towards other campers as the trail will remain clean. As annoying as it may be to pick up after another person's dog, you may have to do it to for environmental-friendliness.

Additionally, picking up after your dog is important as a means of keeping unwanted wild animals at bay.

Not only is this a socially responsible act towards the environment and fellow campers but also a means of guaranteeing that your pet will remain welcome in campgrounds. Campgrounds are encouraged to keep allowing pets if you they do not cause discomfort to the environment and other campers.

Lastly, be sure to savor your moments together. Camping is a great way of bonding with your dog and you best take advantage of those early mornings with your camping companion.

Section 3: Camping With Dog Checklist

Listen up all pet parents, this checklist is essential as there are some items that you simply can't afford to leave at home. Other than vet records, you need to have the following accessories for your dog:

camping with dog checklist

Campsite Gear

Culinary Supplies

Other Essentials

Fun and Games

First Aid Kit


When it comes to camping with dogs, the big question usually is "Is it really worth it?" Well, this may come as a surprise to you but you're not the only one who loves camping. Dogs love camping too!

You just need to know where to camp with dogs, how to keep them safe from wild animals and more so how to practice good camping etiquette.

To ensure that the turnout of a camping trip with your dog is great, do the following:

Any type of vacation simply isn't complete without man's best friend. This guide will ensure that both two-legged and four-legged campers remain safe and happy during your outdoor adventure.


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