Dog people and camping enthusiasts are two of my favorite kinds of people on the planet. If you’re an avid camper that also has a dog, you have my heart. Wanting them to experience the great outdoors with you is something many pet owners wonder about, and I’m here to teach you everything you need to know about how to go camping with dogs so you can make even more memories.
As you can probably guess, camping with dogs is a bit more work than going camping without them, but it’s worth it every single time. That said, you always need to look ahead at rules and regulations where you’re camping and you need to make sure you pack and plan for the dogs to be with you. Camping is a dog-friendly activity, but you want to do it right!
I can speak from personal experience on this topic as I’ve gone camping with dogs many times in my life. That Bluetick Coonhound in the picture above? We brought him along with us on some of our many camping trips and, as you can see, he loved coming with us.
So I know the ins and outs of how to go camping with dogs, and I’m here to make it easier on you with some tips and tricks. But first, let’s answer the question that’s probably on your mind.
Are Dogs Allowed to Go Camping?
The biggest question that most people have when it comes to camping with dogs is if they’re even to bring their dogs in the first place. Thankfully, the answer to this is almost always yes, as most campgrounds are dog friendly. But some campgrounds, national parks, state parks, local parks, and other recreation areas around the country will have more restrictive rules.
This is why it’s always important to check the specific rules and regulations of the specific place you’re going camping before loading up your furry friend. One thing to keep in mind is that trail rules often differ from campground rules. So even if a particular park or area does not allow dogs on the hiking trails, they may still very well be allowed in the campground.
REI stated a good rule of thumb about this in one of its blog posts, basically stating that dogs are allowed anywhere that cars can go, such as developed campgrounds, but not necessarily on trails or anywhere that you might go primitive camping. Although this blurb was specifically in the section about state parks, I’ve found it rings true in most places.
In short, most parks, campgrounds, and areas where you want to go camping are dog friendly, but just take a few minutes before you head out the door to make sure!
Camping with Dogs: Tips and Tricks to Make it Easier
Now that you know you usually can bring your dog with you, let’s get into what you’re really here for. I’ve previously written a complete guide on well over 100+ camping hacks and tips, but they’re much more general and don’t go far into the specifics of how to go camping with dogs.
These are some of the best tips and tricks for camping with dogs that I’ve learned over the years through personal experience and from talking with other campers that take their dogs.
Tips for Safely Camping with Dogs
Any time you bring a dog camping with you, it’s important to keep their safety and the safety of other people and their dogs at the forefront of your mind. Keep these tips in mind:
- Check Campground Regulations — Research ahead of time to ensure the campsite you’ve chosen allows dogs and familiarize yourself with their specific rules regarding pets and always follow leash laws.
- Update Pet Identification — Make sure your dog’s collar tags have up-to-date information, and consider microchipping if not already done, providing an extra layer of security in case your dog gets lost.
- Protect Against Parasites — Prior to your trip, ensure your dog’s flea and tick preventatives are up-to-date, and consider bringing additional tick removal tools.
- Invest in a Sturdy Leash — Bring a reliable, strong leash that can withstand the outdoor elements, giving you control and your dog a safe boundary. On top of this, never leave your dog unattended.
- Bring a pet first-aid kit — Accidents happen. Pack a dog-specific first-aid kit, including bandages, tweezers, a pet thermometer, and any necessary medications your pet might need.
Tips for Packing and Preparation
Next, it’s important to pack the right gear and equipment for your four-legged friend. I have a complete guide on dog camping gear that includes everything you need, so make sure you check that out to get ready for your trip.
But here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Pack Sufficient Dog Food and Water — Ensure you have enough dog food and water for your dog’s entire trip, plus extra in case of unforeseen circumstances or delays. Always make sure you keep your dog hydrated.
- Comfort Items — Bring along your dog’s favorite toys, blanket, dog bed, or sleeping pad to help them feel secure and comfortable in a new environment.
- Dog Waste Supplies — Remember to pack enough poop bags to manage waste. Some campsites might also require you to carry it out, so bring an odor-proof bag or container.
- Dog-Safe Bug Repellent — Pack a dog-safe bug repellent to keep pesky insects away from your canine companion. Avoid anything with DEET, as it can be harmful to dogs.
- Portable Dog Bowls — Bring a collapsible bowl for feeding and hydrating your dog on the go, saving space in your pack. Consequently, always bring along some dog food and extra water if you’re leaving the campsite.
Tips for Keeping Your Dogs Happy and Engaged While Camping
As just about any dog owners know, dogs love to be active no matter what you’re doing. Sure, some dogs are overall pretty lazy and prefer to just lay around all day, but most dogs still have that puppy in them, wanting to run around, play, and have fun. But they also want to feel comfortable at all times.
These tips will help to make sure your dog remains comfortable and happy during the camping trip:
- Regular Exercise — Plan for plenty of activities to keep your dog active and engaged, such as hiking, swimming, or fetch games.
- Familiarize Your Dog with Camping Gear — Before you leave for your trip, let your dog get accustomed to the sights, sounds, and smells of your camping gear at home. Think of this like a trial run to get them ready for the trip.
- Create a Safe Space — Set up a designated spot for your dog within the campsite, which can be as simple as a blanket or a specific corner of the tent.
- Consistent Routine — Try to maintain a routine similar to what your dog is used to at home. Regular feeding times, bathroom breaks, and bedtime can help your dog adjust to the new environment.
- Consider Your Dog’s Temperament — Respect your dog’s limits and don’t force them into situations where they feel uncomfortable. The camping experience should be enjoyable for both you and your pet.
Tips for Post-Camping Health Checks and Clean-up
Lastly, it’s important to keep your eye on your dog’s health and behavior following a camping trip. Even though they’ll be perfectly fine 99% of the time, you never know what they might’ve picked up during the trip. I like to err on the side of caution with these things since our pets are completely dependent on us for their health!
Here are three simple tips and tricks for keeping up with your dog’s health following a camping trip, and one bonus general clean-up tip:
- Post-Trip Vet Check-up — Schedule a post-camping vet visit to ensure your dog hasn’t picked up any parasites or developed any health issues during the trip.
- Thorough Cleaning — Clean your dog thoroughly once home to prevent any potential dirt, allergens, or small critters from making their way into your living space.
- Monitor Behavior Changes — Observe your dog in the days following the trip for any changes in behavior, appetite, or energy levels, which could be signs of stress or illness resulting from the camping adventure.
- Inspect Camping Gear — Check all of your equipment, including your dog camping gear, for damage and give them a good clean to ensure they are ready for your next adventure.
Embrace the Adventure: Camping with Dogs Done Right
With these tips and tricks at your disposal, you know the basics of how to go camping with dogs and should be ready to tackle the great outdoors with your pup. Remember, each dog camping trip is an opportunity for bonding, exploration, and creating lasting memories with your beloved pet. You just have to be prepared.
So get ready to experience the beauty of the outdoors in a whole new light, through the joyous eyes and wagging tail of your adventure-loving canine. The trees, trails, and sunset by the campfire are calling — happy camping with your dog!
- Going camping with your dog (or more than one dog!) is a great way to spend time with them, create memories, and let them enjoy the outdoors as much as you do!
- Always check the rules and regulations of any campground or area where you’re camping to ensure you’re allowed to bring a dog with you and never leave your dog unattended.
- Be sure you pack all the gear you need for them to keep them fed, hydrated, warm, comfortable, and safe throughout your trip.
- I strongly recommend keeping your dog leashed or on a lead while camping, especially in a campground; you never know how fellow campers or other dogs will react to yours.