Camping with dogs is a blast!
When you’re out in the wilderness you will unlock so many of your dogs natural instincts and allow them to fully engage their highly developed sensors. The companionship of a dog can be one of the most rewarding experiences when you are camping. Unlike most humans, canines are quiet low-maintenance and generally easy to please.
1.) Attach an updated I.D. Tag
One of our most important tips for taking dogs camping is ensuring your dog has a up-to date I.D. tag.
When your dog is out in the wilderness with you be sure to keep an extra careful eye on her.
With all the distractions from wildlife, other dogs, or just excitement they can escape or run off at any given moment.
It is very important that your dog wear her I.D. tags in case she does. Consider purchasing an inexpensive temporary tag for her to wear along with the standard tags. Enter the name of the park where you’ll be camping and your assigned campsite number. If your campground doesn’t assign numbers ahead of time or if you’re camping on the wilderness trail be sure an include the phone number of the nearest ranger station.
Be sure the tag is attach securely to your dog’s collar. Do not attach it to a harness or vest. Dogs have been known to easily slip out of a harness which will leave them vulnerable to getting lost.
2.) Check campground rules
Bringing your dog along on your camping adventure can give you a whole new perspective on the great outdoors, as they notice interesting things that you might otherwise overlook.
The second thing you want to do is ensure that the campground you are wanting to stay at permits dogs.
Guidelines and regulations
There are some guidelines to remember when you bring your dog along with you and where you can and can’t take your dog. There are also may be some safety precautions you should take in some campgrounds regarding wildlife and vegetation.
Check your campgrounds website for this information. If your campground does not have a website check the information board that is located on site. You will also find contact information, rules and regulations and any local dangers here as well.
Call the camp ground ahead of time
When choosing a camping destination call ahead to verify whether dogs are allowed. Most state parks allow dogs on campgrounds and trails but they often enforce leash rules.
For national parks, national forests and national monuments dogs are allowed in most campgrounds and trails.
Dogs are also allowed on land covered by the Bureau of Land Management. If you plan to camp in such an area call the ranger station ahead of time to let them know of your plans to visit.
Check in with the Ranger
It is recommended to check in with the Ranger upon arrival to the campground to let them know your projected length of stay and the area in which you will be camping.
3.) Protect your tent
Some tents have more reliable bottom linings than others but not many can withstand the constant walking or jumping from the claws of an excited dog. If you’re in the market for a dog friendly tent, check out our list of some of the best tents for dog owners.
You’re going to want to protect the bottom lining of your tent with a thick blanket, tarp or other durable lightweight material.
If your dog is really big with extra sharp claws consider using multiple layers.
Tarps help with cleanup
4.) Protect your dog
Laying on the ground risks exposure as body heat is quickly absorbed into the earth. Bring an all-weather tarp to place under the bedding to shield your dog from hypothermia. This can also work as the protective layer used to guard the tents lining from your dogs claws.
To further protect your dog, especially if she is a short or thin coat, pack a doggy sweater or a coat like this one from ruff wear.
Depending on the terrain or if your dog has sensitive paws, dog boots or shoes are a good solution for paw protection.
Don’t forget to do a few trial runs with the boots before you leave because wearing shoes for the first time takes some getting used to.
5.) Always bring extra food and water
Don’t wing it when it comes to having enough food and water. You cannot trust the safety of streams rivers and lakes as a source of hydration for you or your dog. It’s rare these days to locate natural water that isn’t tainted by Giardia, toxic chemicals or other harmful bacteria.
If you insist on using water from a natural source bring Giardia tablets and a tiny bottle of bleach because you only need a couple of drops per gallon to purify the water.
When it comes to food pack two extra days of dog food beyond your planned stay and preserve the food in a sturdy waterproof container or bag. If your campsite features a bear box, which is a storage container high off the ground often on a pole, please use it.
Don’t forget to bring bowls to eat and drink from for your dog as well.
Do not let your dog drink from water sources such as lakes, ponds, streams or rivers. Sparkling mountain ponds and streams begging to be gulped can be infested with microbes such as Leptospira and Giardia. Ingestion of bacteria can lead to diarrhea, dehydration and sometimes vomiting.
Worse yet Leptospirosis can result in liver and kidney damage in dogs and also potential human infection. You can help protect your dog from these bugs by using water purification tablets and having your dog vaccinated against Leptospirosis.
6.) Pack canine medical supplies
First aid Items to pack for your dog
- Self adhering vet wrap tape
- Butterfly bandages, which are used to close open wounds
- Waterproof surgical tape
- Duct tape
- 4″ x 4″ gauze squares
- Sterile non-stick pads
- Small bottle of hydrogen peroxide
- Small container of styptic powder or corn starch to stop bleeding from broken toenails
Tools to pack
- Scissors and tweezers
- A small razor to shave injured areas
- An irrigation syringe to flush eyes and wounds
- Triple antibiotic ointment with Lidocaine
7.) Bring a favorite toy or blanket
8.) Keep control of your dog
Bring more than 1 size leash
In addition to your standard leash and collar it’s a good idea to have one short lead especially if your destination is heavily wooded. You don’t want to attach a long lead around a bunch of trees. You’re dog could get themselves tied in a knot or snagged on branches preventing them from moving around.
Bringing a short lead will allow a way to safely restrain your dog while you are setting up camp, cooking etc. Just ask anyone who’s ever tried to pitch a tent while holding a leash.
Tactical dog vests
9.) Explore the trails and scenery
Your idea of camping may go no further than moving from your tent to a seat around the fire but your dog is probably going to want more exploration than that. Be good to your dog and yourself and take advantage of hiking and exploring the area around you.
Rough terrain and safe walking
Some of the best hikes involve trails that require us to hike up and down rocky hills and mountains. Your dog will look like she’s having the time of her life jumping down and around rocks.
We sometimes think our energetic dogs are indestructible athletes but the fact is even a bad landing playing fetch can damage a ligament. Same thing goes for obstacles on the trail.
The advice for us on the mountain trails applies to our dogs as well.
You get tired going uphill but you get hurt coming down. Make sure your dog takes it slow and enjoy a safe and fun time hiking with your dog.
Hiking with your dog off the leash
You may come across areas that allow off leash hiking but be aware that these trails are often remote areas. The probability of wildlife encounters increases and if your dog is walking off the leash she may get into some trouble.
One of the safest tips for taking dogs camping is only let your dog off leash if he or she has fully mastered the commands come, sit, stay and heal.
Even in the face of distraction knowing and obeying these commands may save your dog’s life.
10.) Clean up after your dog
One of the most important tips for taking dogs camping is to clean up all waste left by your dog. Ensure dogs can continue staying in campgrounds by cleaning up after them. You will want to come prepared so bring lots of waste bags and a small hand held pooper scooper if you wish. This is a major tip for all dog owners. You don’t want to show up to a campsite that is covered in dog waste so don’t leave your dogs poop there for future guests. This will ensure a happy dog friendly campground for many future camping dog owners.
11.) Returning home
While spending a few days out in the wilderness it is more than likely your dog picked up a few hitchhikers. Allergens and dirt are also removed during a nice long bath leaving you a clean and happy dog! You don’t want to bring any ticks or critters into your home so it is important that you give your dog a thorough bath as soon as you get home.
Be sure to rub your hands firmly all over their body while washing them. This will ensure you knock off any critters that have attached themselves to your dog. You will also be removing any micro critters, which are bugs you can’t necessarily see with the naked eye.
You also want to check there feet for thorns, prickles and pests. Check thoroughly as they can get lodged up in between their paws pretty far.