Although my pup is almost 9 months, I was finally able to take her on her first camping trip! This time around it was a success, so I wanted to write a ‘how to camp with your dog’ post.
We ended up going to Fort Stevens State Park for this trip. Since then, we have also camped at Takhlakh Lake. Camping with a dog, especially solo, was a LOT of work. However, while I was camping I realized a few things that I was glad I prepared for, and some things that I wish I had done. I hope this list helps you if you’re looking to take your dog on their first camping trip. Here’s how to camp with your dog.
How to Camp with Your Dog
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Know the Rules of the Area
Find a campsite that allows dogs and make sure you know the rules of the area! National Parks, for example, don’t allow dogs on many trails and might just limit them to campsites and parking lots. Many campsites also don’t allow dogs to be off-leash. Make sure you are able to plan accordingly so your dog isn’t left alone, and so you’re not taking them in areas where they aren’t allowed.
To find dog-friendly campgrounds, check out BringFido or HipCamp. To find dog-friendly hiking trails, try using AllTrails.
Make sure your flea and tick medication is up to date (as well as vaccinations)
You’re not going to want to take your pup camping with you if they haven’t finished their vaccinations. They might end up picking up something since there are lots of dogs going through campgrounds, as well as other animals. Making sure they are up to date on their flea and tick medication is also important since there are lots of bugs (including flea and ticks) out there. You don’t want your dog to get Lyme disease from a tick, it can end up further affecting their health!
While you’re camping, check your pup each night before it gets dark to make sure they haven’t picked up anything. Even if they are taking medication for ticks, they could end up with one on them. For an easy tick remover, check out this little device here.
Make sure their microchip is running and that they are tagged with info to contact you if anything happens
For that just in case moment, make sure they are microchipped and are tagged! If somehow they run off chasing something or get off-leash, this betters your chance at finding them. You can also put a temporary tag on them that lists the dates you’ll be camping and what campsite you’re at (for drive-up camping). This way if they wander into someone else’s site, they know which site the pup belongs to.
Try a practice night in the tent at home
If you’re nervous about how your dog is going to react to being zipped up in a tent at night, try a practice night. Set up your tent in your home or backyard and mimic the same sleeping arrangements that you’re going to do while camping. This can be helpful to see how they will react, and make them more comfortable. You don’t want to find out during the night when camping that they are going to freak out being zipped in! If you’re dog is going to scratch, make sure to bring duct tape and mesh patches for your tent so you don’t end up with holes in it.
My dog is also sometimes too smart for her own good. She discovered that all she has to do to get out of the tent is unzip it (*face-palm*). I started to clip my tent zippers together with a small carabiner. I don’t think she will be able to figure that out. If you have a dog that is fairly smart and picks up quickly on things, you might want to bring this as an extra security measure so that they don’t run out of the tent on you, especially at night!
Make sure you have all the necessary supplies for your pup
It pretty much goes without saying! I always bring an extra leash and harness just in case. Don’t forget the medications, food, dog bed, etc. Make sure you bring lots of doggy bags, in case the campsite doesn’t offer it if you’re car camping. Also, bring activities for your pup like chews. You get the point!
Pay Attention to the Weather
Make sure that you have a cool-down area for your pup if it’s hot out. Also, watch for signs of heatstroke and heat exhaustion. This is especially important for dogs with short-muzzled dogs and dogs with long, thick hair. We had to leave on our most recent camping trip because our site had no shade and it got really hot. Just make sure you pay attention to the weather and if it’s going to be especially hot out during the weekend you are set to go, consider rescheduling.
Find the nearest vet in case of emergencies
Better safe than sorry, right? Make sure you find the nearest vet or animal hospital. This might be pretty far out, especially if you are camping in the middle of a National Park or National Forest. Along the same lines, make sure you bring any necessary medical paperwork or vet history with you, even if you’re just emailing it to yourself for safekeeping. If you wait until an emergency happens, you might not have the service, data, or wifi to Google where the closest vet is going to be.
For small things that might happen while you’re out camping, bring a mini dog first-aid kit with you. You can make one yourself like in this post here, or get a pre-made one like this here.
Some of my favorite dog & camping related things:
- The Harness I Use: Ruffwear Front Range Dog Harness
- The Collar I Use: Ruffwear Front Range
- The Tent I Use: REI Co-op Passage 2 Tent
- The Backpacking Backpack I Use: Kelty 44L Rewing
- Camping + Backpacking Stove: Jetboil
The first time camping with your dog might be a lot of ironing out the kinks! Just remember that it’s a new experience for them and that might take some patience and training!
I hope you found my ‘how to camp with your dog’ post helpful! It is a lot of work, especially if it’s a new experience for the both of you. Just make sure to bring your training treat and reward desirable behavior.
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Happy camping 🙂