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Top Tips on Camping With Your Dog

Written by Anna Hollisey


Labrador lying next to campsite

Want to get out and explore this year but don’t want to leave your trusty four legged friend behind? Just like people, some dogs love camping and some hate it. We've done the research for you to help you decide if canine camping is right for you and your dog. 

Is Your Dog Ready for Camping?

They may love the outdoor life, but not every dog will love the campsite experience. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • A pet-friendly campsite will have other dogs nearby, so cautious, nervous, or aggressive dogs won’t fit in well.
  • Most campsites have leash regulations, so your dog needs to be happy about being kept on a leash outside the tent.
  • Campsites can be busy and noisy, even quite late at night. If your dog barks when people pass, they might cause further disruption and sleepless nights.
  • Your dog is unlikely to wander into your neighbor's yard at home when they’re cooking a BBQ but can the same be said when there’s just a thin tent between your dog's very powerful nose and the sizzling ribs less than a five second run away? 

If your dog is happy to stay on a leash, good with meeting people and dogs, adapts to change and ignores cooking food, then they’re going to love camping! Next, get them prepped with our checklist…

Pre-Camping Checklist for Dogs

Prep your dog to have a happy, healthy camping trip. Before you go, tick off the following: 

  • Flea, tick, and worm treatments. You’ll be walking in unfamiliar territory so should protect your dog against ticks, fleas and worms (often ingested from found foods).
  • Vaccinations and health check. Ensure your dog is in good health and ready for an active camping trip. 
  • Microchipped and registered. If your dog has a microchip, it’s worth checking your details online to be sure it’s registered to your current address – in case they go for a wander in an unfamiliar state. TIP: If your dog is particularly prone to roaming, equip them with a tracking device which you can monitor via a smartphone. 
  • Bring enough medication. If your dog takes regular medication, ensure that you have enough for a trip – order more from your vet if necessary.
  • Pack the right kit. If you’re camping near water, consider how to keep your dog safe/learn/dog-health/how-can-i-keep-my-dog-safe-from-blue-green-algae: non-swimmers may need flotation vests. Put basic animal first aid supplies/learn/dog-health/what-should-you-pack-in-a-dog-first-aid-kit (such as bandage and antiseptic spray) into your medical box. Ensure that your dog’s leash and harness are in good condition – you could add a light-up collar so that your dog is visible during the evenings on-site. Also consider a collapsible water-bowl (ideal for taking out on hikes). 

Make Camping Fun for Your Dog

It’s common for dogs to be disturbed by any disruption to routine/learn/education/key-steps-to-make-a-happier-healthier-dog/home-routines-for-dogs. But there’s lots to love about camping, too: getting to spend lots of quality time with their favorite humans, exploring new territory, and eating sausages for supper!

You can make camping more fun for them by:

Camping in a Tent With Your Dog

Can dogs sleep in tents? There’s no single answer. You’re the best judge of your dog’s adaptability… but from experience, we know that lots of dogs sleep well in tents!

Your dog might sleep in the ‘living’ area of your tent or inside the ‘bedroom’ area with you. Most dogs won’t cope very well with sleeping outdoors – being used to our heated homes, they’re just not accustomed to outdoor temperatures and can develop hypothermia. 

In family tents, bedroom compartments usually feature extra insulation and light-blocking panels, helping people to retain body heat during cold nights. So if the temperature is predicted to drop at night, it may be better to allow your dog to sleep in the bedroom area – provided you don’t have young children in the same place. 

Do Dogs Need Sleeping Bags? 

Small, wiry, or fine-coated dogs will benefit from a canine sleeping bag… if you can persuade them to stay inside it. If your dog won’t use a sleeping bag, prepare their sleeping area with a camping carpet and extra layers (old towels work well) to protect them from the cold ground temperature. Camping’s more fun in moderate temperatures so if you think your dog will suffer during cold nights, wait for the forecast to improve

First Time in a Tent?

Before your trip, put up the tent in your yard and leave it open for your dog to try out. You can sit in there and give them meals in the tent so the experience becomes familiar. 

Can You Leave Your Dog In a Tent?

No. Dogs shouldn’t be left in a tent – they won’t be able to escape, and closed tents can become very hot. Intense rain or winds can also affect the safety of the tent. So don’t leave your dog inside the tent. When taking your dog camping, you need to plan your days around activities which include them!

Further Reading

Don’t miss our guide to making a first aid kit for your dog/learn/dog-health/what-should-you-pack-in-a-dog-first-aid-kit. During summer, you should ensure that your dog is well-hydrated: stay alert to the signs of dehydration in dogs/learn/dog-health/dog-dehydration-symptoms-causes-and-cures. In a new area, watch out for natural hazards such as blue-green algae/learn/dog-health/how-can-i-keep-my-dog-safe-from-blue-green-algae. And if your dog isn’t accustomed to the beach, read our beach danger checklist/learn/dog-health/read-this-before-you-take-your-dog-to-the-beach before you hit the sand!