Camping With Dogs - Tips and Guidelines

Do you like outdoors, nature and camping? Have you ever considered camping with dogs, and taking your loyal pal on your escapades with you? It's no surprise that our pets love connecting with nature, so taking advantage of some opportunities can be fun and healthy for everybody involved.

One of the best things about packing for an outdoors trip is being able to take your dog camping with you. We all know how much our canines love spending the time together with their owners, no matter where the adventure takes us. Most dogs truly enjoy hiking, camping, canoeing and exploring the wonders of nature as much as we do.

So get prepared, pack for yourself and for the dog, follow a few basic guidelines on camping with dogs, and enjoy connecting with nature!

Camping With Dogs: Tips and Guidelines

How to Go Camping with Dogs

Find a Dog-friendly Campground

It's very important to find out if the campground allows dogs and if there are any size restrictions. You don't want to make the trip and learn that you'll need to turn around if you come with a dog.

RELATED: Puppy’s First Campsite – Bringing Home to the Outdoors

However, most campgrounds are happy to welcome dogs of all sizes; a very few camping places in America will actually refuse having a dog around. Nevertheless, it's always better to do the research and come prepared. Ensure that your have gone through your checklist, too.

Update Vaccinations

Make sure the dog is up-to-date on all of his vaccinations. There will be other dogs and wild animals at the campground. He will be exposed to diseases like Canine Parvovirus and Canine Distemper and there is always the possibility of rabies from woodland creatures.

Let your regular veterinarian know where you will be going camping with the dog. Your pet may need an additional vaccine against a disease that is prevalent in that specific area, such as rabies or Lyme disease.

Camping with Dogs and Essential Vaccines

Get Dog Identification

Have the dog micro-chipped and affix an identification tag on his collar just in case he gets lost. He can get the micro-chip at the veterinarian’s office. The dog ID tag can be purchased at most pet supply stores. Have the dog’s name engraved on the tag as well as your cell-phone number.

RELATED: Microchips and Identification Tags – How to Pick the Right One?

The dog microchip will be there permanently and can be read at a veterinarian’s office or by an animal control officer so that they can get the dog returned to you. The dog ID tag will make it easy for a fellow camper to get the dog to you before he gets too far away or gets picked up by animal control.

Ensure Dog's Protection

Provide flea and tick protection for the dog. Flea- and tick-repelling collars for dogs, tags, powders, special dog flea shampoos and squeeze-on liquids that are applied at the shoulders help repel these pests. Put it on him before you leave so he will be protected when he gets there.

RELATED: 10 Best Dog Flea Treatment Solutions

Fleas and ticks are very common to get by when you're camping with dogs, and it's probably the most annoying part of going outdoors with your pet. But it's definitely not a good enough reason to avoiding enjoying the nature your with your Fido, especially if you prepare well in advance.

Camping Dogs Fleas and Ticks Treatment

Prepare for Burrs

Bring along your dog’s brush and a pair of scissors or some good dog clippers in case he gets caught up by a burr bush. Burrs can usually just be picked off of short-haired dogs but they can get really matted up in long hair.

It is easier to just snip the hair off and throw it away, burr and all. Your dog's coat may look a little lop-sided for a while but it will grow back. Especially cordless dog clippers will be helpful if the burrs are too close to the skin to safely remove with scissors.

Bring Dog's First-aid Supplies

Put together a doggy first-aid kit with bandages, antibiotic ointment, eye wash and allergy medication just in case he has an allergic reaction to something. Benadryl is a common allergy medication given to dogs.

RELATED: How to Put Together a First Aid Kit for Dogs

Ask your veterinarian if Benadryl is okay for your dog, and how much he should be given. A muzzle is a good thing to have on hand, too, in case the dog is injured severely and must be taken to an emergency veterinarian.

Camping Dogs First Aid Kit for Dog

Confine the Dog

Take along a fold-up pet exercise pen, a flexible travel dog crate or long tie-out leash. Even if your dog is well-behaved and usually stays near, it is better to keep him contained. That way you can relax around the campfire with the dog nearby and not have to jump up to grab him if he tries to run off after another dog or woodland creature.

Skunks, porcupines and other wild woodland animals commonly found at campgrounds can inflict damage faster than you can get to the dog. Keeping him confined in a pet exercise pen will also prevent angry campground neighbors that may not want your dog visiting them.

RELATED: The Best Dog Leash

An exercise pen with an indoor-outdoor rug beneath will keep the dog clean and comfortable. The ground tends to get muddy where a dog is tied out. And don’t forget the dog’s collar or dog harness and of course, a good dog leash you can trust.

Do Not Leave the Dog Out

Take your dog into the tent or camper with you at night when you go to bed.

A dog left outside at a campground during the night is probably going to be nervous. Other campers will be walking nearby late at night and early in the morning. Skunks, opossums, porcupines and other wild animals will probably be wandering around the campground looking for a tasty treat during the night.

RELATED: Hiking With a Dog? Here’s What You Need to Know

It is more than likely that the dog will be whining or barking when left outside, especially in an unfamiliar location. If he is in the enclosure with you, he will probably just settle down and go to sleep.

Secure your dog in the tent with you at night with a proper dog leash or tie-out unless the door to the tent zips down tight and you're confident he won't get out. You don’t want to have to go chasing after him in the middle of the night if he decides he needs to chase off a skunk or raccoon.

Camping with your dog and leaving him outside of tent

Do Not Leave a Mess

Bring doggy-doo clean-up supplies. Dog waste disposal bags are handy and fairly inexpensive but plastic shopping bags work well, too. Take along three or four doggy poop bags for each day you will be there. It is always best to have extras around just in case.

RELATED: 5 Best Dog Pooper Scoopers

Pack the doggy pooper scooper or simply put the bag over your hand, grab the stool and pull the bag down off your hand over the mess. Tie a knot in the bag and put it in the trash. This is much better for everyone than simply picking it up with a shovel and throwing it off into the woods where it will draw flies and could be stepped in by another camper.

Chill Out and Settle In

Hang around the campsite with the dog for a few hours after you get there. This will give him time to relax from the trip, get used to the area and settle in a bit. Don’t forget, camping with dogs is at least a little stressful for your pets. Even the most happy furry four-legged travelers may be a little nervous. For some dogs, all the unfamiliar sights and smells can be downright scary.

RELATED: Dog Travel Tips – How to Vacay With Your Pet

Some dog-friendly campers who do this a lot have advised the following plan:

  • Set up the tent or camper.
  • Set up the dog’s exercise pen or tie-out.
  • Fill his water bowl.
  • Make sure you know where the first aid kit will be located.
  • Just sit with the dog for a while in a lawn chair before trekking off to explore the sites or gather firewood; let him get adjusted.

Camping with dogs in a tent outdoors

Bring a Dog Flotation Device

Get the dog a life vest if you are going to be canoeing or boating while camping. They are not all that expensive, usually $20 to $50, and even a strong swimmer dog may need one. The kind with an easy-to-grab handle on the top will make it much easier to pull him back up into the boat.

RELATED: Why Dog Parents Need to Invest in Dog Vests

Life vests aren't necessary (although advisable) if you're not spending too much time near the water. However, if you're going to be on a boat with the dog, or around the lake or sea area for a prolonged period of time, definitely make sure to equip your dog accordingly. Moreover, there are dog water ramps to help your pet enjoy the time on the boat alongside with you.

Follow Campfire Safety Guidelines

Put the dog in his pet exercise pen, into a dog crate or on the tie-out before you light the campfire. You should be focusing on getting the fire started and the dog could become a dangerous distraction. He could also get his nose, ears or paws burned if he gets too close.

Get the fire started then adjust his tie-out so he can sit near you or scoot his exercise pen closer if you like. Keep him confined while you are cooking and afterward as well. Grease left on a grill or food that dropped off into the hot coals can be too much of a temptation. Many dogs will risk a burn for a piece of hamburger or marshmallow.

If s’mores are on the menu when camping with dogs, keep the chocolate away from your pooch. By now, we all know that it is toxic to dogs and will cause vomiting, diarrhea, heart damage and other serious health problems.

Camping dogs near the campfire

Take Dog Food and Water

Pack plenty of the pet's regular dog food. People food is a fun treat for dogs and a nibble here and there is okay on occasion but too much of it will cause digestive upset, vomiting and diarrhea. Pet owners can learn a lot from professional dog hunters who know how to pack for their canines when going outdoors for an extended stay in the nature.

RELATED: 30 Hunting Dog Supplies To Pack for the Outdoors

Bring a few 1-gallon jugs of tap water from home for him to drink. The water at the campground could also cause digestive upset. Camping is new and different and a little stressful for dogs. Maintaining his usual diet will help keep him comfortable.

Reannan has enjoyed the companionship of dogs her whole life. She bred, raised and showed cocker spaniels for a while but has owned a variety of different types of dogs, ranging from bulldogs to mutts. She worked in the private sector for 30 years. Now she devotes her time to writing and sharing knowledge about dog ownership and care.