Want to bring your four-legged friend on your next outdoor adventure? Before embarking, check out this handy guide that explains everything you need to know about camping with dogs.
Camping with your pup can be a gratifying experience, but it’s crucial to equip yourself with the proper knowledge before setting out for the great outdoors.
Below, you’ll learn essential information to keep your furry companion safe in the wilderness as well as helpful tips to make the most of your bonding adventure.
So, without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about camping with dogs.
Read Campsite Regulations
Before you start planning a weekend getaway with your furry friend, be sure to check the local campsite regulations. This simple act will save you time and hassle in the long run and ensure you’re familiar with the lay of the land.
Many national parks are dog-friendly camping destinations, but specific rules and regulations vary between regions. For example, Rocky Mountain National Park doesn’t allow dogs on hikes, whereas Acadia National Park boasts over a hundred miles of dog-friendly trails.
Most backcountry sites don’t let you bring your dog, so you’ll likely have to stick to developed, frontcountry camping if you invite your furry companion.
If you’re heading to a national park, check out this National Park Service map to learn which sites will allow you to go camping with dogs.
State and Local Parks
Similar guidelines apply to state and local parks, with most options allowing dogs in developed, frontcountry camping.
A good rule of thumb to abide by when camping with dogs is that canines are allowed wherever cars can go. So while you can bring your beloved companion to your campsite, you may not be able to bring it on a hike or to the beach.
Regardless, the most important takeaway is to check the park website first before booking your visit.
Schedule a Vet Appointment
Before you bring your four-legged friend on your next camping trip, it’s worthwhile to schedule an appointment with the vet.
Ensure that your pet is up to date on vaccinations and discuss ways to prevent ticks and fleas. The vet will have all the answers to keeping your fluffy companion safe while in the great outdoors.
You may want to also consider microchipping your dog. If you’re taking Rover to a remote area, you’ll feel more relaxed knowing you’ll always have their precise location. Dogs can bolt off in the flash of a second, and being able to track them will provide you more peace of mind.
Familiarize Your Dog With New Surroundings
If you have time before embarking on your trip, familiarize your dog with the camping setup. If you’re lodging in an RV, consider spending the night with your companion while it’s still parked in your driveway. Or pitch your tent in the backyard and complete a trial trip to see how your dog reacts.
Dogs will react differently to new sights, sounds, and smells. Some will become aggressive, whereas others will be scared or overexcited. Luckily, dogs also can adapt quickly to new surroundings.
Spending a short time in a new environment will help your companion familiarize themselves prior to the actual trip. When you finally go camping, your dog will already recognize the senses of their home away from home, and you’ll be able to gauge their reaction.
Driving to the campsite is half the battle, and there are different ways to prepare your pooch for the long journey.
First off, be sure your pup is trained to drive in the car for extended periods of time. The last thing you want is to arrive at your camping destination and clean up dog waste. If you haven’t driven much with your pup, try taking them for short journeys to get them accustomed to the car. Slowly build up their driving stamina until they’ve gotten used to the routine.
Plan out bathroom breaks along your journey. Map out rest stops where your dog can relieve their bladder, have a snack, and stretch their legs. If you need to run in for a quick trip to the loo, make sure there’s proper ventilation and shade inside the car.
Arrange a portable dog bed or a pile of blankets in your car to ensure a more comfortable surrounding for your companion. You can also add some of their favorite toys to establish some familiarity.
Plan Dog-Friendly Activities
Dog-friendly activities will help you make the most out of your camping trip, so be sure to plan some ahead of time.
Before you hit the road, check your campsite website and see if the regulations allow dogs on the trails and beaches. Once you know the rules, start packing your agenda with outdoor fun.
Hiking with your pup can be a fun way to exercise, and the same goes for playing fetch in the water. If your dog can swim, consider taking them out on a short canoe trip.
You might already know this, but it’s worth mentioning in case. If you bring your pup camping, avoid letting them sleep outside your tent.
Wildlife will likely roam around your campsite at night, and the last thing you want is for your dog to encounter a coyote or skunk. Even if they don’t meet any creatures of the night, there are plenty of smells and sounds to cause a barking fit.
Save yourself from restless sleep and grumpy neighbors by letting your dog sleep in the tent. Snuggling with your pup will keep them safe and hopefully quiet throughout the night. Plus, who doesn’t want to get cozy with their furry companion?
Keep Rover Nearby
One of the most important tips when camping with dogs is to keep your pet leashed up and nearby at all times.
Most campgrounds have a bylaw that states all dogs should remain on leashes no longer than 6 feet. A few exceptions include when your dog is playing in a fenced-in dog park or sleeping in a secure area at night.
Plenty of distractions can tear away your dog’s attention at a moment’s notice, from the squirrels scurrying up trees to the barking dog next door.
Campgrounds can easily become sensory overload for your pup, so avoid letting your dog run free for your own sake and as a courtesy to others.
Distribute Food Appropriately
Dogs thrive on routine, and keeping your pup’s mealtime on schedule will help ensure success during your camping trip. Your dog is probably overwhelmed by the new environment, so maintaining a timely eating pattern will keep your pup calm and grounded.
When you feed your dog, be sure to pour kibble into a bowl and not on the ground. Wildlife will see leftover grub kicking around and think it’s a free buffet. To avoid rodents invading your campsite, keep the food in a container and seal it properly when mealtime is over.
Health and Safety
With any outdoor vacation, things can go south in an instant. The same rings true when camping with dogs.
Have your pet’s vet info readily available, and research the closest animal hospital near your campsite. Anything can happen in the great outdoors, so preparation is key to a relaxing trip.
It’s no secret that campsites are a hotspot for ticks, and dogs are prime targets for these infectious insects.
Pack a tick-removal kit and conduct daily tick checks, especially after a hike or romp through the woods.
Not only will this be a service to your furry companion, but you’ll also be protecting yourself against Lyme disease, especially after spending the night cozied up in a tent together.
Mosquitos aren’t harmful like ticks, but they can still be a nuisance. If you notice your pup getting eaten alive by bugs, consider buying a dog-friendly mosquito spray. Look for an option that uses all-natural ingredients since conventional mosquito spray can harm your pup’s health.
Vet’s Best Repellent is a great option, or you can make your own using diluted lemon eucalyptus oil. If you go down the homemade route, be sure to add enough water since essential oils can overpower your pup’s superior sniffer. Test the batch in small amounts to see how your dog reacts to the solution.
One of the best ways to prepare for camping with dogs is to buy a skunk odor-removing spray. The combination of skunks, dogs, and camping is a disaster waiting to happen.
A single spray can ruin your whole trip, forcing you to rush home and deep clean your pet, car, camping gear, and yourself.
Avoid the nightmare and invest in a good odor-removing spray like Nature’s Miracle Neutralizer before you go embark.
If an unexpected heat wave is cramping your camping experience, watch your pup closely since dogs are susceptible to overheating. You should be able to notice a few tell-tale signs before it gets really bad. Your pup may start panting and breathing really hard or become weak and lethargic.
You can also use a digital thermometer from your first-aid kit to check their temperature. Anything 104 degrees or higher is a sign that your dog is overheating. If this happens, move your dog to a cool area or wrap an ice pack around their groin and monitor their temperature.
To prevent this scenario in the first place, keep an eye on the temperature and only go out during the morning and night. Or, plan a visit to a dog-friendly beach to cool off in the waves.
You’ll have the best experience camping with dogs when everybody’s happy, including your neighbors, so respect the campsite rules.
Keep your pup leashed up at all times and avoid areas that prohibit dogs. Don’t leave your dog unattended at the campsite, even if it’s just in the RV or tent. Remember, your dog is your constant companion, so keep them close by at all times.
Try to prevent your dog from barking incessantly. Your neighbors want to enjoy the sounds of nature rather than a constant chorus of yipping. Save yourself from angry neighbors by soothing your pup when he starts yelping.
Lastly, invest in biodegradable bags to clean up after your dog and dispose of the waste in appropriate trash containers.
If you follow these tips, you’ll have the best camping with dogs experience for you and everyone around you.
Stock up on Dog Gear
Investing in the right gear will set you up for success when camping with dogs. A few must-have additions can make your life a lot easier, ensuring you and your pup a safe and comfortable time.
Here are some camping with dogs essentials to bring on your next trip:
- Dog food
- Bowl for food and water
- Dog raincoat
- Long and short leash
- Extra towels
- First-aid kit
- Portable dog bed
- An up-to-date photo of your beloved
- Vet records and medical info
- Dog waste bags
- Dog life jacket
- Attachable ID tag
Enjoy the Time Together
The most important tip on our camping with dogs guide is to enjoy the time with your companion. It can feel gratifying to experience the great outdoors with your furry friend by your side.
Whether snuggling in the tent on a cold night, hiking through the woods together, or just sitting by the campfire with your pup curled at your feet, camping with your dog can be a wonderful bonding experience.
Wrapping up Camping With Dogs
We hope our guide on camping with dogs inspired you to bring your furry companion on your next outdoor adventure.
With this helpful knowledge in your back pocket, you can confidently camp with your pup by your side.
Now that you’ve learned about camping with dogs, check out our Camping Page to learn more about essential outdoor gear.