How to actually enjoy camping with a dog

August 5, 2020

Camping is a great way to vacation and enjoy outdoor adventures with your pet. Before you camp out with your dog for the first time, consider these tips to stay safe and have fun camping with your dog.

How to actually enjoy camping with a dog


Is your dog ready to ‘ruff’ it?

Not every dog is cut out for camping. Even the most outdoorsy dog will benefit from a trial run (or a few) before taking that first trip. Try some day hikes in the wild, followed by a backyard camp out. Reward your dog with a favourite toy when he follows commands on the trail or settles down to sleep inside the tent. Before heading out, ensure your campground allows dogs.

Update your gear

While the list of camping gear made especially for dogs is endless, experienced campers recommend the following:

Hiking backpack – holds your keys and phone and your pup’s poop bags and snacks

Collapsible water bowl or doggie water bottle – keeps your dog hydrated on long hikes

Long line leash and anchor – lets your dog roam safely while you set up camp (most provincial parks require your dog to be leashed at all times)

Flea and tick treatment – your vet can help you choose between collars or medication

Coat or sweater – keeps your best friend warm and dry in cold or rainy conditions

Temporary ID tag – on your dog’s collar with your campsite # clearly labelled; ensure your dog’s tag and microchip details are also up to date in the event he wanders off

Bandana – spray with bug spray before tying to your dog’s neck to prevent licking bug spray applied directly to fur

Sort out the sleeping arrangements

For safety reasons, your dog should always sleep inside your tent. Plan for this when calculating tent space. Cover the tent floor with extra blankets or towels to prevent damage from sharp claws. Place a few others outside as a place to lie down or clean off before entering the tent. Nighttime noises can be alarming for dogs who are new to camping. Some will growl or bark at every strange sound or smell—all night long—knowing there are wild animals nearby. Put your dog at ease, and get some sleep, by having him sleep near you, on a leash. This will reassure your dog that you are in charge, and he is safe.

Keep your dog’s diet consistent

Feed your dog the same amount of food (and treats) at the same time that you do at home. Be sure to bring extra dog food in case your campground stay is extended – bigger dogs can carry their own in their backpack. After meals, don’t forget to return pet food to your food stash safely stowed in an animal-proof container to avoid luring unwanted visitors to your site.

Don’t forget to stoop and scoop

You might think picking up dog waste in the woods isn’t necessary. It’s natural, and will decompose just like that of other woodland creatures, right? Wrong. Our dogs’ diet of commercial food doesn’t break down the same way, and can be harmful to the environment. Always pick up your dog’s poop in biodegradable poop bags. If you’re car camping, drop it in the nearest garbage bin. If you’re hiking out, dig a hole and bury the waste, or have your pup carry it out in their backpack.

Prepare for the unexpected

An experienced camper never heads into the woods without a first aid kit. If you’ve got your dog in tow, you’ll want to learn about pet first aid and add a few items to your kit such as wax paw protector or booties when hiking in rocky conditions, tick remover, liquid bandages for small cuts and a brush for removing burrs. Learn how to spot and remove ticks, and always check for tick bites on your dog, and yourself, at bedtime. As an extra precaution, keep the phone number and directions of the nearest emergency veterinarian clinic handy.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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