“But I want to go camping too!”
As a dog owner, it’s hard to say no to those big, puppy-dog eyes, pleading for you to take them with you. Especially when you know they want to go with you so badly!
The good news is that you can bring your pooch along with you camping. All you need is some preparation ahead of time and the right gear. Soon, your best bud at home will be your best bud at the campsite too.
Read this article for some tips and tricks for camping with your dog. We’ve also included a supply checklist to make packing for your trip a piece of cake.
Get Them Used to Travel
First thing’s first: Get your dog used to travel. The best way to do this is to start taking your pal with you wherever you go.
Note, be smart about taking your dog in the car with you. Buckle them up with a dog car restraint so that they’re safe in case of an accident. This also protects you. It’s never a good idea to have your dog running loose in the car, distracting you while you drive.
Also, never leave your dog in a hot car. Heat is very dangerous to animals so be mindful of this before you leave the house.
But otherwise, take them with you as much as possible. It gets you and your dog used to being in the car with each other.
Once you’ve mastered the car, take them on hikes through the woods. If you’re planning to camp in the woods, you want to see how your dog reacts to the experience. Always keep your dog on a leash when out in the woods, for their own safety.
Teach Them Obedience
Ever heard this before? “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
That’s totally untrue!
You can and should get your dog some obedience training before you take them camping. A few simple commands like sit, stay, and heel will go a long way.
Teach your dog to listen to your commands and obey. This is important for their own safety. If you have a dog that runs from you, you never want to take them into the woods without training.
Another part of preparing your dog is to take them to the vet before you go. Your dog needs a clean bill of health before traveling. And your vet can give you tips on the proper gear to have for camping with a dog.
Test Your Gear First
Your camping gear might be great for you and your family, but it’s got to meet your dog’s requirements too. Always test your gear at home before you take your dog camping.
One thing to do is test the strength of your tent. A big dog can easily poke a hole in your tent canvas with their claws. If you have problems with this, consider a sturdier tent. Or a heavy duty tent liner to protect the inside of the tent.
You also might have to upgrade your air mattress to something that won’t puncture. Or switch to a compact foam sleeping pad.
The experts at Gander Outdoors are here to help you pick out the right camping gear. Visit our camping page to see our selection of tents and camping accessories to make your trip successful.
It’s a great idea to let your dog sleep with you in the tent at home before you hit the trail. You’re used to tent sleeping, but your dog isn’t. Let them get acquainted with the surroundings gradually.
Do a run-through of what you’ll pack. You always want to have the right supplies to keep your dog healthy and happy. Make sure your camping setup has enough room to pack for both you and your pooch. We’ll give you a checklist of doggy-specific supplies at the end of this article.
Know the Rules of the Campground
Campground etiquette is no joke. You don’t want your camping trip cut short because you got kicked out.
Make sure to book your trip to a dog-friendly campground. Don’t leave this to chance. You don’t want to get stuck with no place to camp for the night because you didn’t call ahead.
Get the rules of the campground ahead of time. Know where your dog can go inside the campground. And where you can take your dog to do their business while on your stay.
Keep your dog under control at all times. This is where that obedience training comes into play. Your dog must be good around other people and other dogs.
Pick up after your dog. That’s obvious, but we’ve got to say it. There’s nothing worse than unattended dog poo in the campground.
Make a cable line for your campsite. This allows you to take a breather from the leash and still have your dog in a controlled environment. Plus, it lets Fido sniff around and get used to his surroundings.
Mind the Rules of the Trails
Note, national parks aren’t always dog-friendly. And that applies to state parks too. But each park has its own rules about pets. Click here for a few parks that do allow pets.
Even if a park allows your pet in the campsites, doesn’t mean they allow them on the trails. Trail walking can be dangerous for animals, so always check on the rules ahead of time. Bear bells are a good idea to tie around their collar if you’re hiking in bear country.
Following the rules is especially important if you plan to hike in areas with steep cliffs or geothermal activity. In those situations, keeping your dog under control is critical. Not only for their safety but for the safety of other hikers.
And always, always, always pick up after your dog. Did we say that already? That’s because it’s so important. Leave the trail looking exactly as it did before you got there.
A Checklist for Doggy Supplies
You probably know what kind of supplies you need to survive a camping trip, but make sure you’ve packed for your dog too. Here’s a basic checklist of the tools and supplies you need to bring along when camping with your dog.
- Harness and leash for hiking
- Collar with ID tags
- A cable line for your campsite (optional)
- Bed or pallet for your dog to sleep on
- Extra tent canvas or a tent liner for the floor of your tent
- Food and water (of course), enough for both you and the dog for hiking
- Bowls for food and water, portable to bring on your hike
- Toys and treats
- Waste baggies
- Dog brush to remove burrs and sticks from their fur
- Bear bells if you plan to hike in bear country (optional)
- Dog sweater if you’ll be in the cold or if your dog has short fur
Make Wonderful Memories Camping With Your Dog
If you’ve never considered camping with your dog before, now’s the time to do it. Why? Because there are so many great benefits to sharing outdoor adventures with your furry friend.
Spending quality time outside with your dog improves both your mindset and attitude. And it’s great for your dog. Leaving a dog behind makes them nervous and anxious. Spare them that stress and take them with you.
Plus, it’s healthy for both of you to get out and move around. With some good preparation and the right supplies, you and your dog can be camping buddies for life!
Gander Outdoors carries an entire line of pet supplies for camping. Or visit one of our locations to talk to an expert about how you can get your dog ready for camping.