Camping with dogs has a way of heightening the camping experience to a new level. Our dogs have a way of bringing us back to the here and now. Their joy in the “right now” is contagious, and what better way to make the most of a camping trip? Camping with dogs also requires some additional planning and mindfulness. Here are some tips to help you—and your dog—have the best experience possible.
Not all campsites allow dogs. Generally, well-developed campgrounds on public lands allow dogs, but backcountry campsites vary widely depending on where you are and which agency manages the land. Do not stop at checking the campsite regulations, though. You also need to check out your desired daytime activities. If you plan to hike, for example, be sure dogs are allowed on the trails. It is not safe (or generally even allowed) to ever leave your dog unattended at your campsite. Your dog will be your constant companion, day and night, so plan accordingly.
Nearly all campgrounds require dogs to remain on a leash no longer than six feet. This not only protects the experience of nearby non-dog-lovers, but it also protects the safety of your beloved pet. Camping with dogs requires you to be extra aware of the unpredictability of wildlife, the tempting aroma of food sizzling over campfires, and the potentially dangerous plantlife nearby, so a leash or tether is a must at your campsite. (It’s also worth a heavy review of the “leave it” command.)
Don’t forget the poop bags! Not only can dog waste harm the environment (bacteria and parasites contaminate the soil and water), it’s just plain rude. Be courteous to your fellow campers, hikers, and Mother Nature herself. Bring those pick-up bags everywhere you go, and use them.
You may have a food grazer at home, but when camping with dogs, it’s important to not leave their food sitting out at your campsite. Only bring food out at meal times; otherwise, you will encourage wildlife to come snacking.
Remember to include your dog when calculating needed camping supplies—including water. Be mindful of providing fresh water if bugs or leaves get caught in his water bowl at camp. Have a plan for carrying water for your dog when hiking and exploring. If you’re going for longer hikes away from the campsite, consider using a dog pack to carry what he’ll need.
Just as you cannot leave your dog unattended during the day, you cannot leave her tethered alone outside through the night. Many campsites even require that your dog sleep with you inside your tent or car. This keeps them safe from wildlife and the elements, which can bring surprises in the night. Consider co-sleeping with your dog, allowing her to snuggle up with you. (What’s better than snuggling your pup in a cozy tent?) Or if your dog is crate-trained (and your tent is large enough), have her sleep in her crate inside the tent.
Camping is one of life’s great pleasures, and camping with dogs is in a league of its own. Enjoying the great outdoors with man’s best friend—does it get much better? If you share our love of adventure, be sure to check out our collection of rugged bags and apparel, crafted with you in mind.