Bringing your dog on their first camping trip is incredibly exciting.
However, there are a number of important things you need to do beforehand to make sure your canine companion has a great time.
Fortunately, we have put together this list so you can have a great time camping with man’s best friend.
Taking a dog camping for the first time? Here is everything you need to know and do to make sure you have a great time in the great outdoors.
Know The Rules Of The Campsite
It is crucial to do your research ahead of time! While plenty of campsites across the United States allow for dogs, many of them do not.
Some require you to pay an additional fee, some require a permit or fee, and some only allow dogs to be in the park at certain times of the year.
A simple Google search usually turns up the park rules.
Keep in mind that in nearly all parks that allow dogs, a leash under 6 feet long is usually required.
As a responsible pet owner, we assume you already have a nice leash, but we also recommend picking up a hands-free dog leash, which can make hiking and climbing a lot more enjoyable.
The rules can differ for the length of the tie out – familiarize yourself with the individual rules ahead of time.
Practice Sleeping Outdoors Ahead Of Time
Dogs generally dislike change, so it is important to show them that sleeping in this tent is a normal thing – if possible, try camping out in the backyard or a spare room in your house a few times before taking your dog camping for the first time.
This will show them that sleeping in a tent is a fun, normal, and exciting event and when it comes time to actually get out into nature your dog will feel calm and easily sleep in the tent.
Research The Weather Ahead Of Time
We always recommend picking up a thunder jacket, which is a weighted jacket that can help ease your dogs’ anxiety during thunderstorms.
Adverse weather, notably thunder and lightning, can create anxiety and panic in dogs.
Loud sounds, static electricity, and heavy winds can terrify your pup and cause them to panic.
Make sure to actively check the weather report on the days leading up to your first camping experience.
If it looks like thunder and lightning are likely, consider rescheduling your camping adventure if at all possible.
Just to be safe, we always recommend picking up a thunder jacket, which is a weighted jacket that can help ease your dogs’ anxiety during thunderstorms.
In certain regions of the world, flash rainstorms are inevitable, so make sure you always pack a thunder jacket for your dog even if the weather looks clear.
Your canine companion will thank you.
Bring Collapsible Bowls For Feeding & Drinking
Fortunately, using collapsible bowls makes keeping your dog well hydrated and well-fed easy.
PetBonus Collapsible Dog Bowls are perfect for camping because they come with an attached carabiner, making it extremely easy to make sure your dog is taken care of while camping and hiking.
Bring an extra or two in case you lose one.
Figure Out The Sleeping Arrangements
At the end of the day, this really comes down to your own budget and preferences.
If you already have a small tent that only fits one, getting your dog their own tent is probably the best move.
If your tent is large, you can put them in a small tent inside of your larger tent. Regardless of what you chose, we recommend the Lumsing Pet Tent.
We recommend having your dog sleep inside your tent whenever possible, especially if this is the first time your dog has gone camping.
If your dog is crate trained, they will probably adapt well to sleeping in their own dedicated tent.
If they are not, try having them sleep in the Lumsing Pet Tent in your living room before the camping excursion so they are comfortable and know that their tent is a place to sleep and not a punishment.
For more information and recommendations, read our article on tents for dog owners.
Some dog owners let their dogs sleep outside of the tent. Unless your dog is extremely well trained and used to the outdoors, we do not recommend doing this.
Take Care Of Ticks & Fleas Before You Camp
Being in the great outdoors means your dog runs the risk of encountering bloodsucking fleas and ticks.
In addition to being annoying and painful to your dog, they can also transmit diseases.
Make sure you take proper precautions to take care of fleas and ticks ahead of time.
We recommend using Frontline Plus to ensure your dog is protected. Make sure you use the correct treatment for your dogs’ size.
Additionally, make sure you watch out for ticks on your skin as well!
Make Sure You Have A First Aid Kit
Saline spray, gauze, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, tweezers – these are all things you absolutely need to have in order to keep your canine safe.
Fortunately, there are a number of great first aid kits for dogs on the market. Tactical Freedom’s Pet First Aid Kit is a great kit that has all of the essentials.
It is also easy to transport due to its small size, making it easy to throw to hold onto during your outdoor excursion.
Bring Extra Food & Water
Many people who go camping just let their dog drink from streams or ponds. Don’t do this if you are unsure of the quality of the water, or you don’t have a high-quality water filtration system.
Don’t forget that your little buddy will need to eat and drink water, just like you! Dry food or can foods are the easiest to handle and shouldn’t expire out in nature.
It is also important to stress that you need to bring lots of water for both you and your dog.
Bring extra food and water because there is a good chance your dog exerts itself heavily and needs more sustenance than usual.
Many people who go camping just let their dog drink from streams or ponds.
Don’t do this if you are unsure of the quality of the water, or you don’t have a high-quality water filtration system. If the water isn’t clean your dog runs the risk of getting sick.
Brush Up On Your Commands
Sit, stay, come, run – it is crucial to brush up on your dog commands before you head into the great outdoors.
You need to be absolutely sure that you are in control and your beloved canine companion isn’t going to take off if he sees a porcupine or another woodland creature.
Practice in your backyard or living room before you head out into the great outdoors.
Let Your Dog Pull Their Own Weight
These are oftentimes big enough to carry the essentials such as food, water, first aid kit, collapsible bowls, baggies, and more.
We recommend using the OneTigris Dog Pack – it features two main zipper compartments and a durable and unintrusive design.
Allowing them to carry items also provides great exercise, which will make them more tired and thus more obedient back at the campsite.
Pack Lots Of Doggie Bags
Clean up after your dog! This will ensure that pet-friendly parks remain pet-friendly so many dogs and dog owners will be able to enjoy the great outdoors in the future.
Place a dedicated trash bag near the site as a receptacle for the used doggie bags and then bring this bag with you when you are done camping.
Use Dog Shoes To Keep Your Dog Comfortable
Just like you, your dog’s feet need adequate support in order to ensure a comfortable camping experience.
We recommend My Busy Dog Shoes, which have a high build-quality and will provide great support for your dog.
They are also waterproof and can help prevent your dogs’ feet from both becoming cold, and overheating on a hot summer day.
Additionally, it will help keep your dog from accidentally puncturing the inside of the tent with their nails.
Get Your Dog A Sleeping Bag
For outdoor adventurers, using a high-quality sleeping bag is the answer. RUFFWEAR Highlands Sleeping Bag will keep your dog warm and comfortable throughout the evening, thus allowing both of you to get some much-needed rest.
This is a phenomenal choice if you are camping in cold weather, or even in an environment where the temperature drops at night.
We recommend training your dog to use the sleeping bag before your camping trip so you have no issues.
Don’t Forget Extra Blankets & Towels
Make sure your dog has their own dedicated set of blankets and towels.
The blankets will ensure your dog is warm in case the temperature drops at night, and the towels can be used to clean them in case they roll around in something dirty – trust me, it happens all the time.
Exercise, Excercise, Exercise
Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise during the day so they are tired at night.
A tired dog is an easy to manage dog. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise during the day so they are tired at night.
This will keep them happy, tired, and mellowed out at the end of the day when all you want to do is relax by the campfire and then drift off to sleep.
It will also prevent them from barking or chasing after squirrels and other woodland creatures.
Camping With A Friend’s Dog? Make Sure They Meet Ahead Of Time
What’s better than camping with one dog? Camping with two dogs, of course! If you are planning on camping with a friend’s dog, or multiple dogs, it is crucial to make sure the dogs meet ahead of time.
This is to ensure that the dogs all get along and there won’t be any issues on the camping site.
The truth of the matter is that some dogs simply just don’t get along, and it is important to make sure that everything will be copacetic before trekking off into the woods together.
Additional Tips For Camping With Your Dog
Don’t Forget Your Documents
Make sure your dog has their dog tags, ID’s, and vaccinations records in order before your trip.
Keep Your Dog Hydrated
Your canine companion will probably go through more water than usual if you are hiking. Make sure you pack extra water.
Clean Up The Campsite
The golden rule of camping is to leave your site the way you found it. Respect the beauty of nature.
Let Your Dog Sniff The Gear
Let your dog sniff your camping gear while you set up so they can become comfortable around it.
Bring Chew Toys
When you are trying to relax after a long day of enjoying nature, your dog will stay occupied with a quality chew toy.
Pack Extra Carabiners
Carabiners are incredibly useful when it comes to camping and hiking. Make sure you pack a few extras just in case. Use them to hold to your collapsible water bowls, doggie gear, etc.
Don’t Forget A Stake, Tie Out & Hammer
Keep your dog on a tie out and stake at the campsite instead of letting them roam freely. We recommend bringing a hammer in order to drive the stake into the ground.
Clip Your Dogs Nails Beforehand
Clipping your dog nails will prevent them from ripping holes in the tent.
Remove Odors When You’re Done
Chances are your dog will love camping with you, but most likely they are going to get dirty and a little smelly. When you get home deep clean your tent or use an air purifier to get rid of the dreaded wet dog smell.
Will My Dog Enjoy Camping Their First Time?
Most dogs love camping, but you need to think about the disposition of your dog, especially when you are taking a dog camping for the first time.
Does your dog like to relax on the couch all day? Perhaps you should have a nice and peaceful time camping in the woods.
Is your dog hyperactive and full of energy? Maybe you should go on that exciting and intense hiking trip you have always wanted to do.
Know and respect your dogs’ nature and everyone should have a great time.
How Many Miles Can My Dog Hike Per Day?
This is a common question we receive – the answer depends on your dog.
If your dog is an apartment dog who has never walked further then around the block, the distance they can hike is going to differ dramatically from a seasoned trail dog.
Take your dog outdoors in advance and see how far they can reasonably trek.
Pay attention to how far they can go before they start to slow down and make sure you do not push them too hard.
If you are planning on having an intensive camping experience, train your dog in the weeks and months before the trip so they are well prepared.
There you have it! Everything you need to know about taking a dog camping for the first time.
We hope you have found this guide to be useful, and we hope you have a phenomenal time camping with mans best friend!
There is no better companion. Make sure you are well-prepared ahead of time and both you and your dog will have an incredible camping experience.
Lover of hiking, nature, camping, bird calls, and more. I run ATO and do my best to provide interesting information for my readers to help make their outdoor adventures more fun.