Let’s make camping better, let’s learn how to go camping with a dog. Here are 15 items in a checklist to help you make camping with your dog the best trip ever.
Camping is already fun, it’s even more fun when you are camping with your dog. Let’s look over the items you will need so you know how to camp with your dog. You’re probably wondering how to go camping with your dog, the right way? Here we provide you with 15 tips to make your camping trip with your pup a great one.
Is this the only way? Nope, but this comprehensive list will definitely put you on track to camp with a dog.
Sleeping Gear For Dogs When Camping
1. Sleeping Pad
Unfortunately, there isn’t enough room in the sleeping bag for a dog. When tent camping, your body heat can be quickly reduced by sleeping directly against the tent floor. Because there is no thermal barrier between your body and the ground temperature, there is a rapid loss of core body temps in cold environments. Your dog will experience the same issue when sleeping on the tent floor.
A simple sleeping pad or even a folded up tarp under your dog’s sleeping area will greatly reduce the loss of body heat and allow there to be an area between the ground and your dog that maintains a comfortable temperature. No to mention, it’s much more comfortable. Would you want to sleep directly on the floor? Neither does your pup. Here’s a great option that is surprisingly good for the money.
If your dog is anything like mine, they like to sleep with your blanket, regardless of your approval or not. Some dogs have a certain blanket they love and makes them comfortable. Other dogs just want ANYTHING to lay on, including you. On your camping trip, bring your dog’s blanket that they are not only comfortable with, but also give them some extra cushion when you get inside the tent at night. While your dog will likely love camping with you, it may be a bit stressful on them and having their blanket will act as another level of comfort.
Control Options When Camping With Dogs
2. Leash or E-Collar
Leashes can often be overlooked, for two reasons. One, is you’re so busy packing the vehicle and you just forget it. Also, because people often think they will be in the wilderness and their pup can run free. While this is true in some areas, you will still need your dog on a leash when on most hiking trails in state or national parks.
This will keep your dog nearby and under control, if the area you are in requires it. I keep a leash nearby and our German Shorthair Pointer does great on an E-Collar, both have their place and both do well in a camping scenario. I’ve gotten to the point where I have at least 4 leashes. It’s nice to have one around when you need it.
3. Anchor Point
I’m not saying you need to tie up your dog and forget them, but, have you ever tried to set up a tent with a dog on a leash in your hand? Not fun. Camping with a dog requires thinking ahead. Having an anchor point to tether your dog for just a few minutes while you set up or use the bathroom can be a big help. Also, there are always other hikers, mountain bikers and wildlife not too far away.
The last thing you want is your dog off making new friends (or enemies) without your knowledge. Or, I suppose you could just put your dog in a backpack while setting up camp. I once attached my dog’s leash around a tree at Rocky Mountain National Park while I set up a tent. Within a few minutes, I had a ranger come tell me it was bad for the trees to have a leash on them.
Rather than the sort that out, I removed the leash politely and learned how valuable it is to have an anchor point available.
4. Collar Light
When thinking about how to camp with a dog, let’s remember, they are still dogs. Your dog may run off, may get lost, or just get out of your sight at night. Collar lights are a great tool to have on your pup when camping. Once night falls, you may not see your pup in the complete darkness when camping.
A simple collar light can be found cheap on Amazon and gives you an easy spotting ability to see your pup at night no matter where they roam, just look for the random bouncing light in the darkness. This one here I have been using for years, it’s inexpensive, waterproof, and keeps on working!
Food and Water When Camping With Dogs
5. Collapsible Bowl
Your dog will need to eat, but you don’t want to be packing multiple bowls and containers to keep your pup fed. A hiker’s collapsible bowl works well with food and water. It packs down flat and lightweight and can be taken on your trip with ease over the alternative of full-size bowls. It’s such a simple idea but comes in handy on the trip. This one is nice because of the food and water options, check it out here.
6. Toys / Chews
One of the best things about camping is getting away from the masses and just sitting by the fire and relaxing. Tossing your dog a natural chew or tossing their ball will work out some extra energy is a great way for you both to relax. This will definitely make life better when camping with a dog.
First, its fun to give your dog a treat, but also it can be a handy tool to help coax them into something you may need to be done while camping. Trying to get the perfect photo of your pup? Maybe hang a treat up by the camera and watch them pose perfectly focused on your camera for a great pick.
8. Pre-Measured Food
Here’s what you don’t want to do when camping with a dog, don’t bring a 40lb bag of dog food where you camp. Take a freezer sized ziploc bag and measure out enough food for your planned trip. Throw in an extra day or two’s worth just in case the trip gets extended beyond what you expected.
Bring water when camping is essential for both you and your dog. Many people often think the dog can drink from local lakes and ponds when they get thirsty. Keep in mind, many stagnant water sources carry many different parasites and bacteria that may be harmful to your dog. A best practice is to keep a 5 gallon just of freshwater in the vehicle. Generally, this will keep you both hydrated for a few days out camping as well as having enough extra water to refill your water bottles and brush your teeth.
Safety and Medical Considerations for Camping With a Dog
10. ID Tags
While I like to think I have complete control of my dog at all times, sometimes a rabbit running by will take over all my dog’s focus and he may not return to me until he has a rabbit in his mouth or once he gave up on finding it. Attaching an ID tag to your dog’s collar will be a nice insurance policy that whoever finds your dog (if you don’t) can call or text you to let you know they found your pup.
11. Paw Protection
We have all seen the funny videos online of a dog trying out their new paw protection. While funny, some terrain can be tough on a dog’s paw. Here in Northern Colorado, the ground has sharp and rugged rocks with tons of scattered cactus that WILL end up in your dog’s paw pads if they run off-trail. A simple solution is to buy a pack of paw covers that are built to travel off-grid. These are cheap, convenient, and your dog will thank you for this little extra level of protection when you do go camping with a dog. After about 5 minutes they don’t even notice them. I tried a few of these as my dog hunts and puts a lot of miles on his paws of rugged terrain. These here seemed to do the best.
12. First Aid / Meds
While I don’t go out expecting to have medical emergencies, I do try to prepare by keeping a quality First Aid kit in my truck and another in my hiking pack. The same effort should be taken to protect your pup in the event of a medical issue. Dogs can get into all sorts of trouble when they get to run free.
From running through a barbwire fence to a wild encounter with a porcupine, your dog may need some first aid. Also, if your pup has any sort of daily medications, remember to pack those for the trip. I recommend grabbing one that packs up small enough it’s easy to take along but also has the right items you need. Something like this works very well.
13. Hiking Trail Research
Hiking with your dog is really fun for both of you. It feels good to go outside and it feels just as good to take that hike with your dog. However, many trails will have posted signs regarding dogs on the trail. Some trails are no leash, some are leash required and many trails say no dogs at all. Research this BEFORE you go to make sure you get to enjoy the outdoors together on this trip out.
14. Crate or Kennel
So, you went out, you had a great time and now you’re headed home. But, your dog is really dirty now. The thought of your dog on your pretty interior of your vehicle may not sound great. If you have room, bring a crate to keep the dog on the ride. Or if you don’t have the room, bring a cover of some sort to act as a barrier between your dog and your car’s interior. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this review on the Canvasback interior liner.
15. Campground Research
While Many campgrounds are dog friendly, some are not or have strict rules. Camping with a dog still has some limits. Campgrounds being a big on. So, like the hiking trail research mentioned above, also consider researching the campground you plan on visiting for your trip. The last thing you want to do is plan, pack and hit the road just to find out the campground isn’t going to welcome you when you arrive.
Welp, there it is, your essential list of gear when you head out camping with your dog. Hopefully you found some value in this and it helps make your next camping adventure with your pup, a great one. Now go get outside!
Mike is a Colorado resident, a combat veteran, and a former Police Officer, and an avid outdoorsman. Mike has camped, hiked, and Overlanded all over the United States. From backpack Elk Hunts on Public Land, solo truck camping to Multi-week Overlanding adventures with his family, Mike is very familiar with these outdoor topics.
Thinking of trying out camping in the bed of your truck? Awesome! Truck Bed Camping is a lot of fun, however, there is a bit of a learning curve involved to do it right. Here is an extensive guide to...
Bears like food, in fact, they like your food, a lot. Having a rock sack when out on overnight hikes, camping or hunting will allow you to hang your food high up out of a bear’s reach.