OCT 16 2022    
8 Essential Tips for Camping With Your Dog
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8 Essential Tips for Camping With Your Dog

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If you are a pet parent, your dog is more than a canine companion; he’s a full-fledged member of the family. It only makes sense that you would want to bring him along on your outdoor adventures. 

Dogs make excellent camping buddies. They love being outside, are super loyal, and are always ready to go. However, whether you’re planning to let Fido tag along deep into the backcountry or on a casual stay at a local campground, getting ready for that first trip can feel overwhelming. 

We’re here to help make the process easier with what we consider the top 8 tips for camping with your dog.

Find Pet-Friendly Camping

Not all campgrounds are pet-friendly, so it’s important to do your research ahead of time. You can use a website like to check for private campgrounds that will welcome Fido with open arms. However, it’s always a smart idea to call the campground directly to check their canine camping policies before you book a campsite. 

Some campgrounds may allow dogs, but not in all areas or at every site. A phone call in advance of your trip can save you a major headache once you arrive. 

US National Parks generally welcome pets in developed areas. That means Fido can enjoy most campgrounds, trails, and even some lodging facilities. Some Parks do have restricted areas, so you’ll want to check Park regulations ahead of time.

Dogs are allowed in all 154 National Forests, however, when you’re hiking established trails, Fido must be kept on a leash that is no longer than six feet. There are also many National Forest areas where Fido can run free, just make sure he has excellent recall skills before you unhook his leash. 

Get a Pet ID

Dogs slip leashes, and even the best-behaved canine could be lured away from your side by the exciting smells of the forest. If this happens, you want to increase the odds that you and Fido can be quickly reunited. Make sure your buddy is wearing a collar with a tag that lists your name and contact information. 

A microchip is the best way for vets and animal shelters to identify your pet if he happens to come out of his collar or lose his tag. 

It’s also a good idea to pack a few photos of your pup in case you get separated. You can show the photo to fellow campers so they can keep an eye out for him. You can also ask campground staff to make copies to post around the facility.

Visit the Vet

Pets can pick up everything from ticks to tapeworms when they are roaming the wild. Schedule a check-up with your dog’s vet before your camping trip. Make sure he is up-to-date on his vaccines and current on flea and heartworm preventatives. 

Fido’s vet can also recommend any other medications or vaccines that will help him stay healthy outdoors. For example, there is a vaccine for leptospirosis, which is caused by bacteria in standing water. However, the vaccine isn’t part of a dog’s routine vaccination program. If your dog may drink from lakes, ponds, or puddles, your vet may want Fido to get the shot prior to your camping trip. 

Bring Lots of Food and Water

Camping and hiking are taxing activities for you and your pet. Since Fido will be burning a lot more energy than he does lounging around at home, it’s important to pack plenty of food and water to meet his needs.

Your dog will work up quite a thirst in the outdoors, so pack a collapsible water bowl and enough water to quench his thirst, especially when you venture away from camp. 

Fido may need up to 50 percent more food than he does at home, especially if your adventures are physically demanding. Make sure you only bring Fido’s food out during mealtimes, however. Dog food left unattended is an open invitation for all kinds of outdoor critters. 

You should also pack plenty of treats, not only to curb Fido’s hunger but also to ensure he associates camping with positive experiences. 

Plan Sleeping Arrangements

Sleeping may seem like an easy arrangement, but dogs are a lot like children - they can be easily overwhelmed in strange environments. To make sure both you and your dog get a restful night’s sleep, it’s important to give Fido safe and comfortable sleeping arrangements.

What those arrangements look like is largely up to you and your dog. If your pup normally sleeps with you at night, there’s nothing wrong with letting him curl up with you in your sleeping bag (make sure yours is extra roomy). 

Some dogs may feel more comfortable with their own sleeping space. If you need to bring a dog bed or create a comfy pile of blankets near the tent door, that’s fine. 

If your pooch is normally crated at night, add that to your packing list (unless you’re heading on a backpacking trip). Fido will automatically know what’s expected of him at night when he sees his familiar crate. 

Plan for the Weather

Although dogs tend to have better weather tolerance than humans, you want to make sure Fido has a comfortable camping experience.

When camping in hot weather, make sure Fido drinks plenty of water. In extra hot weather, add a few ice cubes if you are able. You should also pitch your tent in a shady area to minimize sun exposure.

If the weather is cold, consider packing Fido a warm outer layer for extra insulation. Provide lots of snuggles and pile on the blankets after the sun goes down.

Rainy weather also has challenges. For some breeds, wet fur is slow to dry and can quickly lower your dog’s core body temperature. Pack an extra towel so you can rub away some of the rainwater. If you and Fido plan to hike in the rain, a doggie rain jacket can help prevent him from getting soaked in the first place. 

Pack a First Aid Kit

Your camping gear should always include a basic first aid kit. Thankfully, Fido can use a lot of the supplies in your human first aid kit if he needs to. However, sticky band-aids and surgical tape don’t pair well with Fido’s fur coat. 

You can purchase a doggie-dedicated first aid kit or add a few pet-specific items to your own - like non-stick bandages and a tick removal tool. 

You should also take a basic pet first-aid course. This will provide you with important skills in case Fido needs you in an emergency. The American Red Cross offers a self-paced online pet first aid course that is relatively inexpensive but will be invaluable if you ever need it. 

Leave No Trace

Every camper, whether human or canine, should be following “Leave No Trace” principles. It’s the best way to protect wild places and ensure they stay wild. 

For Fido, “Leave No Trace” includes:

  • Keeping him quiet. Excessive barking can agitate local wildlife. If you’re in an established campground, it can ruin your neighbor’s relaxing outdoor getaway. 
  • Picking Up the Poop. Dog feces are not part of the natural landscape, so you should follow the same guidelines for human poo. Either pack it out or bury it. 
  • Using the Leash. A free-roaming pooch can wreak havoc on fragile plants and terrorize native animals. In those cases, it’s best to keep Fido on a lead. 

Wrapping It Up

Bringing your dog is one surefire way to make camping extra fun. Follow these practical tips for camping with your dog, and your next outdoor adventure is sure to be a success.

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