Camping is better with loved ones, and that includes the furry members of your family. Yes, going camping with grandpa and his hairy back is fun, but I’m talking about camping with dogs. With a bit of time and preparation, camping with your dog can be a reality! Here is our guide for camping with dogs.
1. Plan Your Dog’s Camping Trip Ahead of Time | Camping with Dogs
Should I take my dog camping?
If you’ve never camped with your dog before, the first time shouldn’t be during an impromptu trip for this weekend. Instead, plan the trip well in advance, perhaps one to two months. Time allows you to test the waters. Spend time with your dog outdoors, take them to a busy park, see how they interact with groups of people, or spend a night RV camping in the driveway.
Determine if camping is a good idea for your furry friend. Know your dog’s limits and respect them. If you feel an inclination that this isn’t a good idea, listen to your instinct and either give yourself more time to train and prepare or opt for a dog sitter or board your dog. If your puppy is learning the ropes to this thing called life, has a history of aggressive behavior toward dogs or people, isn’t well-socialized, or prefers staying home rather than exploring new environments, camping might not be a good fit. Whatever the case, find the scenario that makes your dog most happy and safe.
2. Choose a Dog-Friendly Campground & Campsite | Camping with Dogs
Oh Where, Oh Where
When deciding where to go camping, choose a campground that is pet and dog-friendly. Doing so sets you and your dog up for a successful camping trip. These campgrounds have amenities such as dog parks dog washes. In addition, you’ll find that your campground neighbors are friendlier about pets because they might have dogs themselves. Using Campspot’s “Pet-Friendly” search filter leads you right to a campground and campsite that will be the best fit for you and your pup.
To give you a headstart, here are 10 Pet-Friendly Campgrounds on Campspot.
3. Prepare and Pack for Your Dog | Camping with Dogs
Just as you would pack up for a child, making sure they have all of the items they might need on a camping trip, pack a bag for your dog. Don’t let it be an afterthought. While you can’t control every facet of the experience, you can push your pet toward a happy and successful trip by equipping them to best handle the environments they find themselves in while camping.
What to pack when camping with dogs?
Here’s a list to get you started on what to pack for your dog:
- Dog Food
- Food and water bowls
- Dog waste bags
- Dog collar
- 2 Leashes
- First aid kit
- Veterinary records
- Dog Treats
- Any medications
- Current photo of your dog
- Safety light
- ID tag
- Favorite toys
- Dog bed
- Extra rags or towels
4. Abide by Campground Rules and Regulations | Camping with Dogs
Just as you respect a campground’s quiet hours or check-out times, adhere to the campground’s pet policies and rules when bringing your dog camping. These rules can include:
- Pet fees
- Keeping your dog leashed
- Not letting your dog wander
- Limits on the number of dogs per campsite
- Cleaning up after your dog
- Prohibiting dogs from entering certain areas like the showers or pool
- Prohibiting certain dog breeds*
During the booking process, you accept a campground’s terms and conditions. By not adhering to the rules and regulations, you open yourself to the possibility of the campground asking you to leave.
*According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), “Banning a specific breed can give a community a false sense of security, and deemphasize to owners of other breeds the importance of appropriate socialization and training, which is a critical part of responsible pet ownership.”
5. Practice Dog Safety | Camping with Dogs
Hello, it’s me, thanks to my ID
Before arriving at the campground, ensure that your dog is microchipped and wearing a collar ID with up-to-date information. That way, if any unfortunate event arises, you can find your dog or be reached if someone else does.
It’s getting hot in here
People camp most during the summer. Unfortunately, this also is when the weather is hottest, and each summer only gets hotter. When camping with dogs during the summer, monitor them for signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) lists these signs as:
- Excessive panting
- Excessive drooling
- Difficulty breathing
- Diarrhea, with or without blood
- Incoordination or stumbling
- Sudden collapse
Act immediately if your pet displays any of these signs as heatstroke progresses quickly. If you see extreme weather in the forecast, it’s time to reconsider whether you should take your dog with you. You should probably rethink whether you should go too, for that matter. If you do find yourself in hot weather, make sure your dog stays inside an airconditioned RV or a climate-controlled cabin. Avoid tent camping with or without your dog in extreme heat.
Harness and booties
In addition to an ID collar, consider a harness for your dog when camping. Constantly leashed at the campground, a harness prevents dogs from injuring themselves when they pull or tug on the leash. Less likely to wiggle their way out, a harness keeps them safe and secure.
Depending on the climate and terrain, consider packing dog booties for your camping trip. Booties will prevent injury to your dog’s paws in a variety of circumstances, including hot pavement, rough gravel, Goathead thorns found in desert climates, and more.
Watch for wildlife
When in the great outdoors, great outdoor things happen. An elk decides to walk through the campground, or a pack of coyotes gets comfortable around the dumpsters (both actual occurrences, BTW). Be aware of your surroundings and bring your dog to a controlled, safe environment if you see wildlife. Prevent tragic interactions by never leaving your dog unattended.
6. Always Pick Up After Your Dog | Camping with Dogs
There is no such thing as the poop fairy
Even if you’re off the beaten path, clean up after your dog. Camping is about getting outside and adventuring in nature. It’s nice to do those things without the possibility of stepping in it.
7. Do Not Leave Your Dog Unattended | Camping with Dogs
Stick with me, kid
Whether outside, inside, tethered, in a pen, or crated, do not leave your dog unattended or unsupervised. Dogs left alone or even ignored often lead to barking or misbehavior. Some people leave their smaller dogs outside alone but in a pen. Often, they don’t have anything to do except bark at the people walking by the campsite. Many opt for a tether, enabling their dog to walk around somewhat freely. If unsupervised, a tethered dog might tangle him or herself into various obstacles found in a campsite, like a picnic table, camp chairs, campfire pit, and so on. Wherever you are, so should your dog be.
8. Mind Your Dog’s Noise Level | Camping with Dogs
I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the barking dog
Loud music or a barking dog, nothing can ruin the ambiance of camping faster than a noisy campground neighbor. You might be used to your dog’s bark, but your neighbor isn’t. Perhaps your dog is barking due to boredom. Occupy their attention with their favorite toys or by playing with them. If the kids are out playing, encourage them to play with the dog. If your dog absolutely has to bark at every person within a 30-foot radius, maybe a campground isn’t the best environment for them (see tip #1 above).
9. Do Dog-Friendly Activities | Camping with Dogs
Before heading out, research dog-friendly activities to do in the area. If you’re unsure of where to start, reach out to the campground to see if they have recommendations. Some dog-friendly outdoor activities include:
- Leisure walks
- Visiting a dog beach
Dogs at National Parks
National Parks usually don’t allow dogs on hiking trails but do allow them in developed areas or campgrounds. Here is the National Park Service’s map of parks and monuments that allow pets.
Dogs at State Parks
Many State Parks allow dogs within the park as well as on hiking trails. Here is a tool from PetFriendlyTravel.com that lists every pet-friendly State Park in your desired state.
10. Respect Others’ Space and Campsites | Camping with Dogs
At a campground, your campsite is like your home. You wouldn’t walk through someone’s home without their invitation, would you? One of the biggest pet peeves campers have is when people walk through an occupied campsite, not of their own. Respect others’ campsites and when walking your dog, keep to shared spaces such as paths, a playing field, or a dog park.
For more information about camping with pets, be sure to check out Campspot’s 5 Tips for Camping with Cats.