Thinking about going camping with your dog?
Check out our Top 10 Tips (and 13-point Checklist) for what you need to do or pack - before you hit the road!
As some areas across the world are beginning to open up little by little, now’s the perfect time to start planning and preparing for a camping trip with Fido. Public campgrounds, along with state and National Park camping areas, are lifting restrictions to allow campers. We know you’re ready to get out there and dogs feel the same yearning for adventure!
Read below for our Top 10 tips and tricks for making your camping adventure with Fido an enjoyable (and painless) experience.
1. Commit to a trial run!
If your dog has never been camping before, it’s best to do a trial run in your backyard. This way you can deal with how your dog reacts to being in a tent- and being secured 24/7 on a lead tied down with a stake- for the first time. To help your dog feel more comfortable with this new experience, bring their toys to entertain and relax them. Your dog may also find the tent material uncomfortable and strange, so bring their bed and blankets for them to lay down on.
With time, they will get used to this new environment and be ready for a camping adventure.
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2. Plan your trip ahead of time
Planning ahead is the best way to ensure a safe and enjoyable camping experience for you and Fido. Not all campgrounds are dog-friendly, so do your research and plan ahead to assure that the campgrounds you want to stay at accept dogs. Camp rangers will turn you away if you show up at a no-pet campground. Remember to book your campsites early, if possible (only some campgrounds allow walk-in campers, especially amid the pandemic).
Lastly, make sure your dog is up-to-date with their vaccinations before taking them camping. Many campgrounds will ask for this information.
3. Bring water
Water is a crucial necessity for your camping trip with your four-legged friend. Our advice to you is to bring more water than you think you need by doubling the amount of water that you would typically take so that your dog is hydrated. Always bring extra in case of emergencies, too.
Make sure to check online ahead of time to see if your campground has a water spigot. Some campgrounds don’t offer this feature, so be prepared with your own water.
Another way to assure that your dog stays hydrated, especially on hikes, is with a collapsible dog bowl that clips onto a backpack. Always bring water with you everywhere you go. You never know when you may need it. It could save your dog’s life in case of an emergency.
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4. Keep your dog on leash & never leave them alone
A majority of campgrounds require you to keep your dog on a leash or lead. This is done to protect you, your dog, other campers, and wildlife. It’s important to keep your dog secure at all times. Long lines/leads with in-ground stakes or a portable pen are great ideas to keep your dog from wandering off while on your campsite.
Also, never leave your dog alone! Never keep Fido in your car or campsite while you go on a hike - or even to the bathroom. You are responsible for your dog 24/7 and that requires that you never leave them unattended.
When you need to use the bathroom, it is common to tie your dog right outside. Some campgrounds may allow you to bring your dog in the bathroom with you on leash, but be careful around others. Your dog’s safety is the priority!
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5. Bring toys to keep your dog occupied
You won’t be hiking, swimming, or exploring for the entirety of your camping trip, so there will be downtime for you and Fido. That’s why it’s important to be prepared to entertain your dog while you’re making dinner on the campstove or sitting back and reading a book. Bring toys for your dog to stay occupied during this downtime at your campsite.
For dogs that are camping for the first time, be prepared for your dog to feel anxious or nervous. This is a new experience for them, so bringing their favorite toys will distract them and calm their nerves.
6. Pack a first aid kit- for you & your dog
Always be prepared for the unknown, such as minor pet injuries by bringing a pet first aid kit on your camping adventure.
Here are a few things you’ll need to pack: non-stick bandages, gauze, iodine for cleaning cuts and small wounds, tweezers to remove ticks, benadryl, scissors, an emergency fold-up blanket for treating shock or cold, a folding multitool with needle-nose pliers for extracting thorns or porcupine quills, booties for protecting injured paws, and a small first aid book with instructions for treating minor pet injuries.
If the injury is not something you feel comfortable treating, contact the local emergency vet. The name, phone number, and directions of a nearby veterinarian or pet emergency clinic is vital to keep in your phone while camping with your dog. You can ask camp staff or look this up on Google. Never be afraid to ask camp staff questions - they are there to help you.
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7. Make sure your dog has their shots
Your dog should be up-to-date on all vaccinations before camping. Most campgrounds will require this and ask for proof of vaccinations, and sometimes specifically ask for proof of a rabies shot.
You could also consider getting a flea and tick prevention medication for your dog before the camping trip. You can talk with your vet about this.
8. Keep your dog clean
Keeping your dog clean will make your camping trip much more enjoyable. There is nothing worse than getting mud all over your tent, so bring towels! After your dog is done playing in the lake, wipe them off to prevent making a mess of your tent and campsite.
Clean dog = happy camper.
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9. Pick up after your dog & be respectful of others
Camping is a wonderful experience because it allows us to get close to, and connect with, nature. With this experience comes great responsibility. We must protect the campground, the trails, and the nature that surrounds us when camping (and even after our camping expedition has concluded).
We have a responsibility to respect our environment and that means leaving no trace. So, pick up after your dog by bringing dog waste bags with you.
Along with respecting the environment, remember to be respectful of others when you’re camping. Keep your dog on leash and control their barking which disturbs other campers and wildlife.
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10. Keep your dog safe in warm & cold weather
To keep your dog safe while camping, be prepared for the weather. It’s common for dogs to get overheated and dehydrated in the sun - especially while engaging in strenuous activities like hiking.
Limit strenuous activities on especially warm days, keep your dog hydrated, and designate areas of shade for them to cool down and relax on your campsite. An easy way to provide shade for your dog is with an umbrella or E-Z up tent. You can also protect your dog’s paws from warm temperatures- and rough terrain- with paw booties. Along with preparing for warm weather, be prepared for the cold by bringing warm blankets for your dog.
We hope you enjoy your camping expedition with Fido. Remember to come prepared, bring lots of water, and leave no trace. Here’s our general checklist on what to bring when camping with your dog: