Tent camping with a dog can be so much fun but there is a lot more that you have to prepare for when you’re bringing a dog.
It can be tough to figure out if you’ve thought of everything when it comes to bringing your furry friend along. This article should give you all the information you’ll need to know plus what you should pack when camping with your dog.
The main thing is to be prepared! Do your research and make sure to pack all the necessary items.
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Tips for Tent Camping With a Dog
Does Your Dog Have the Personality for Camping?
Some dogs are anxious or aggressive. If this is the case with your pup then they may not be the right ones to take camping.
If you have an older dog that doesn’t have lots of energy then I would think about what activities you plan on doing while camping. They may not be able to keep up.
Is Your Dog Well-Trained?
It’ll be a nightmare of a trip if your dog is running around the campsite uncontrolled or barking constantly or terrorizing all the other campers.
Your dog should know a few basic commands like “sit” and “stay” and should be bomb-proof when you say “come.” They should be leashed most of the time but there’s always a chance that they get away.
It will also be good if you’ve taught your dog to stop barking when you give the command. Having a well-trained dog makes the camping experience go a lot smoother.
I will say, we took our two and a half month old pup on a camping trip and obviously she was not well-trained. Thankfully, she was naturally not a barker.
We already had this camping trip planned well before we got her and wanted to acclimate her to a life on the go as soon as possible.
Dog Sleeping Arrangements
Where will the dog sleep? This is a huge question that most people have. The dog can sleep in the tent with you as long as you have a big enough tent.
You can get them their own dog bed for the tent or they even make dog sleeping bags. Just make sure that their nails have been trimmed before you go as they can pierce the tent bottom.
They do make tent liners also specifically for pets that protect against perforations.
A couple other options are an outdoor crate or letting them sleep in the car depending on the temperature.
Have a Practice Run
If it’s your pet’s first time camping then it may be good to set up the tent at home and get them acclimated to it.
Set the tent up and let them play around it, get inside of it, and get familiar with what it looks and smells like. Then hopefully when you set it up at camp they won’t be too anxious around it.
Check the Weather
While you may not mind if it rains a bit while you’re camping, adding a dog to the mix is a whole other ballgame.
Do you want to drive a wet dog around in your vehicle? What about it getting in the tent and getting everything wet and dirty?
These are things to think about before you head out toward an iffy forecast. Though the weather can be unpredictable so it’s best to pack plenty of old towels just in case.
Take Them For a Walk When You Arrive
If you’ve been in the car for a while, your pup will want to stretch out just like you. They’ll also need to pee and this is a good way to let them explore their new home for the next few days.
They’ll be so excited when they first arrive and want to smell all the smells.
Things to Do With Your Dog When Camping
When you take your dog camping you should plan on taking them with you during the day as well. Hiking is the most popular activity to do with your pup and probably the easiest.
You can also go on a run with your doggie. Another great thing to do is get them in a canoe. Some dogs love water and some hate it so you may want to see how your dog feels about it before trying a river trip.
How to Find Pet-Friendly Places to Camp
Here are some tools to use to help find ideas for pet-friendly places to camp, but always check individual campground rules.
This is the go-to website for any question about pet-friendly travel. The beauty of this site is that real people recommend pet-friendly places and activities that they have done themselves.
Just go to BringFido.com and type in where you would like to go. Once you do a search for “Hotels” you can filter that for “Campgrounds” using the search filter options.
You can also find plenty of dog-friendly activities on this site.
On campspot.com you can do a search and then the filter for pet-friendly campgrounds is under the “Amenities” section. To go a step further they also have an option to filter for dog parks under “Park Features.”
It can be a bit difficult to find the filter option on the Reserve America site, but here is what you need to do:
Under “Interest In” select Campgrounds.
For “Site Type” select Tent.
Click the drop-down box for “Advanced Options” and then check the box for “Pets Allowed.”
Then the map will only show pet-friendly campgrounds in the area!
US National Forests
While National Parks have a bad reputation for not being pet-friendly, there are usually National Forests nearby where your doggie can have free roam. Well, free roam on a six-foot leash.
Check out their website to see if there is an option near you.
So many people overlook their state parks and opt for the popular National Parks instead. There are SO many benefits to our state parks and there are lots of fun places to camp on the East Coast in state parks.
Here are a few:
More camping options
Dog Camping Gear
I am putting together a dedicated post to dog camping gear but I’ll go over a few of the basics here. Like I said, when tent camping with a dog it is so important to come prepared!
Dog Bed or Soft Crate
They need their dedicated space especially if they are sleeping in the tent with you. Giving them a dog bed in the tent lets them know where their space is.
If your dog is used to sleeping in a crate then check out a soft crate that is easier to transport. They make soft crates that are suitable for leaving outside in case it’s warm enough to leave their crate outside the tent.
If you have a large enough tent then you can also have them sleep in the tent with you. Just don’t leave them in the tent during the heat of the day.
Stake & Tie-Out
You will not want to keep them on a leash constantly. You’ll need your hands free sometimes especially when setting up camp.
Make sure to bring a tie-out cable and a stake or a cable system you can set up between two trees. This will keep them constrained within your campsite while you can take care of things.
Food & Water
We all gotta eat. Make sure to bring extra food and water for the trip just in case. This isn’t as important if you are camping in the front country and are near a store, but it’s very important for the backcountry.
You can definitely bring the larger metal bowls, but the collapsible silicone bowls take up much less space and are lighter.
Plus when you go hiking during the day they can easily fit in your backpack or some even have carabiner clips to hook on your bag.
If you have a younger dog then this is especially important as most of them have to constantly be entertained. Bring interactive toys that will keep them busy.
Bonus if it is a treat-dispensing toy.
Etiquette for Tent Camping with a Dog
Bad manners are one of my pet peeves. Seems like many people don’t think about how they are affecting others in their space or they don’t realize what they are doing is affecting other people.
Either way – here are some written and unwritten rules of the campsite.
If you have a dog that is a natural barker then camping may not be for them. We tried to control barking at a young age with our dog Barley and thank goodness it worked.
No one wants to listen to a barking dog all night.
Don’t Constantly Shout at Your Dog
They also don’t want to listen to you constantly shouting commands at your dog. I will admit – at home I am the worst for this. My natural reaction when Barley is doing something wrong is to shout.
This is why it is so important to start training your pup early so when they grow older they are obedient and listen well.
Trust me, I know how hard it can be. Our dog trainer said Barley had more sass than she had seen in a long time.
Keep On Leash
Almost all campgrounds have rules around keeping your dog on a leash. Make sure to check the rules of the campground as well as anywhere you plan on hiking.
Have Plenty of Poop Bags
Pretty sure this is not the technical term for them but oh well. Pick up after your dogs y’all!
Then, after you bag the poop, PLEASE throw it away! I can’t tell you how many bags I’ve seen on the side of the trail this year.
If you don’t want to put it in a side pocket of your bag then bring a separate bag for your dog.
Not Everyone Likes Dogs
Keep in mind that though you love dogs and want to pet all of them – not everyone is like this. Some people are absolutely terrified of dogs.
Be kind and respectful to everyone else and don’t get your dog too close. This goes with keeping them on a leash – you don’t want them wandering to other people’s campsites.
We talk about first aid for humans all the time but what about dog first aid? Would you be prepared if your dog got hurt?
Flea & Tick Medication
Make sure you give your dog their flea and tick medication. We give Barley a monthly pill but there are all kinds of options.
Talk to your vet about what is right for your dog.
Up-To-Date on Vaccinations
Another preventative measure – make sure that your dog has all their vaccinations and they are up-to-date!
I’ve always heard that before a pup is fully vaccinated you should not get them around other unvaccinated dogs. Talk to your vet if you plan on taking a young puppy out camping.
First Aid Kit for Dogs
They make first aid kits especially for dogs that contain things you might need for small mishaps.
You can either create your own kit or buy one premade.
Know Your Plants and Wildlife
Some plants are poisonous to dogs if they ingest them and some prickly plants are dangerous if a dog gets too interested in the plant.
Burs can also get stuck in their fur and are dangerous if they get stuck in the wrong place. Be sure to have an idea of what your pet shouldn’t be eating and watch them closely.
You always run the risk of coming across wildlife when out in the woods. Be alert for snakes, bears, and other dangerous animals that are in the area.
Make sure your dog is wearing an ID tag just in case they get lost on your trip. This would be a nightmare and hopefully it never happens but you should always be prepared.
If you have the ID tag then whoever finds them will be able to easily contact you.
Don’t Leave Your Dog Unattended for Long Periods
This is not unlike when you are at home. Dogs are social animals and you are their whole world so they shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time.
When you are on the road though there are some specific places that you shouldn’t leave them. A tent is one place.
When it’s hot outside a tent will heat up incredibly fast and get way too steamy for a dog. Same with a car. You can’t leave a dog in a car on a hot day.
Even on mild days you need to check the local laws because in some places it is illegal to leave pets in cars.
Tent Camping With a Dog Overview
Tent camping with a dog takes a lot of planning and it’s not for everyone. Once you get a few trips under your belt though, you won’t have a second thought about taking Fido.
Make sure you have the right gear, choose the right campsite, and are prepared in case of an emergency. The rest will fall into place (hopefully).
Hopefully you got a dog to share your life and experiences with and this is the perfect way to incorporate them.
Have you ever gone tent camping with a dog? What did you find helpful?
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