Camping can be the perfect way to get away from it all… but what pet parent wants to get away from their best furry friend? Fortunately, with the right research, planning, and prep, bringing your dog camping is totally doable.
Keep reading to learn more about how to plan the perfect camping trip with your dog.
Before Your Trip
As with any vacation—especially the pet-friendly ones—the key to a perfect trip is to start planning and prepping well ahead of time.
Before you set off on your outdoor adventure, do the following:
Visit the vet. Not only do you want to make sure that Fido is fit for travel, but pet-friendly campgrounds will often require proof of up-to-date vaccinations before entry. Talk to your vet about flea and tick defense options, too.
Go to the groomer. Fido may need a fresh summer cut to keep him cool and pest-free during the warm weather; it also doesn’t hurt to trim his nails to keep them from snagging on your tent and sleeping bag.
Check that your dog’s ID tags are up-to-date. If you haven’t already, we also recommend getting your dog microchipped.
Research pet-friendly campsites. Check regulations and guidelines such as leash policies and barking ordinances, too.
Brush up on basic commands such as “come here,” “leave it,” and “drop it.” These ones will come in especially handy if you encounter wildlife or poisonous plants!
Do a test run—whatever that may mean to you. Go for longer walks, spend more time outside, and socialize with unfamiliar pets and people—we even recommend trying a backyard campout in a controlled environment. After all, you don’t want your dog to be overwhelmed by everything new all at once when you’re hours away from home.
Campgrounds can be filled with new people and other dogs, not to mention the total shift in routine and surroundings. Keep in mind that if your dog doesn’t do well in unpredictable environments, it may be best for everyone involved to leave him at home.
In addition to your own camping supplies, pack the following for your dog:
His regular food and water (and durable, portable bowls)
Outdoor-friendly toys—you never know if the weather will keep you cooped up inside, or if Fido will find the campfire boring!
Leash and harness
Any medications and supplements your dog takes on a daily basis
- Pet first aid kit
A recent picture of your pet, in case he gets lost
Towels and blankets/bedding
- PetHonesty’s Flea & Tick Defense Chews, which are formulated with natural ingredients to help repel fleas, ticks, mosquitos, and other pesky pests.
You may also want to bring:
Brush to help remove debris and pests from your dog’s fur
Flotation device, if you plan on swimming with your dog
Paw protection such as gel or dog booties—just make sure your dog has time to adjust to the new feeling before you try it out on your camping trip.
- Dog bed or sleeping pad
Please note: when traveling, try to keep your dog’s sleeping arrangements as familiar as possible. If your pup loves to snuggle up with you, make sure the tent and sleeping bag are big enough to accommodate him; if he usually sleeps in a crate, buy a tent large enough to fit said crate.
During Your Trip
Once you arrive at your campsite, it’s time to relax—but not so much that you lose track of your pup! Never leave your dog unattended while camping. In fact, many campgrounds have policies requiring dogs to be secured at all times.
During your dog-friendly activities such as hiking, swimming, boating, or just lounging outside, make sure that your dog is drinking plenty of water and staying cool. Try to spend time in shady areas whenever possible.
When it’s time to eat, Fido should eat his meal in one sitting. If you leave food sitting out, other wildlife may see it as an invitation to come closer!
Speaking of wildlife… keep a close eye out for any predators or prey that may cause your dog to react. If you see potential danger before he does, try to divert his attention and remove yourselves from the scene as calmly and quickly as possible.
It’s also a good idea to have an understanding of which plants in your area might be poisonous. Keep your dog from eating potentially toxic plants and drinking stagnant or unhealthy water—this is where that “leave it” command comes in especially handy.
Zip and secure your tent at night, too, to keep your dog secure and contained while you sleep. You may even want to block the exit with a suitcase or other large object as an added precaution.
If your dog is prone to barking at strange sounds, you may find it helpful to use a battery-operated fan or white noise machine to drown out the sounds of nature while you (and other campers) sleep.
After Your Trip
Once you arrive back home, it’s a good idea to perform a home health check on your dog to look for any foreign objects, ticks, or other abnormalities.
As an added precaution, we recommend a post-camping grooming session, complete with brushing and bathing to remove any pests, burrs, and debris from your dog’s skin and coat.
Of course, don’t forget to congratulate yourself on a successful camping trip and reward your dog for being a great camping companion!