Dog Tent Camping: A Complete Guide
Sure, camping with dogs is an adventure. But taking your dog tent camping takes the fun factor up a notch or two!
Camping with your Dog is Fun
Unlike car camping, your dog will probably think that dog tent camping is a lot more fun. You can explore so many exciting places together. And the added bonus – no boarding fees or the hassle of organizing someone to look after your dog!
You and your dog can also enjoy fun physical activities such as walking, hiking, and water sports like paddleboarding, kayaking, or canoeing. The added bonus is being able to experience the benefits that go hand in hand with an active vacation.
Some campgrounds have designated dog-friendly facilities or activities that will keep you and your dog well entertained.
Taking a Nervous Dog Tent Camping
Taking your dog tent camping is an adventure but it does come with some challenges, especially for nervous dogs. But if you’re prepared, it can be a rewarding way to spend quality time with even the most highly-strung pooch.
Planning a camping trip with your best pal will probably present many new and possibly intimidating situations for your dog. Be mindful of how your dog will react.
Things like packing and leaving the house, traveling in the car, other dogs, wild animals, and crowds can make an anxious dog even more nervous.
Top Tips to Prepare for a Dog Camping Trip
1. Plan your route.
Pick a route that is suitable for bathroom breaks for your pooch. Rather than pulling over on the side of the road, pull over somewhere safe like a park or reserve. Your dog will love to opportunity to sniff around and stretch its legs.
2. Practice basic obedience training.
Ensure that your dog understands basic obedience training such as the sit, stay and heel commands. A well-trained dog can make your first dog camping trip a much happier and more enjoyable one.
Good recall, for example, will minimize the chance of problems arising when you encounter other people and dogs. And behavior such as barking at night can be a real problem for other campers in the area who are trying to enjoy peace and quiet.
3. Gather your dog-friendly camping gear.
Camping with your dog means you may need some time to gather the right dog gear for your trip. Jot down a list of things to take the weeks before you leave.
Dog gear such as an unbreakable water bowl, plenty of food, bedding, toys, medications, first aid kit … there’s a lot to think about!
Dogs can be quite comfortable sleeping in a tent. But how do you know what kind of tent is the best for you and your pooch?
The more room you and your dog have to move around in your tent, the better your camping experience will be. This is especially true in bad weather.
Larger tents provide more freedom of movement and allow your dog to settle comfortably. This is particularly important for large dog breeds that need a bit more room to stretch.
A six-man tent might be the very smallest to consider for 2 people and a dog to share. Tents are usually much smaller compared to what they claim in product descriptions. Keep this in mind when you’re looking to buy one.
If your dog is more comfortable sleeping in a crate, you’ll need a dog-friendly tent that is large enough and allows you to maneuver a travel crate in and out of the tent door easily. Soft crates are a good option. They have no sharp edges that might damage the inside of the tent wall.
A collapsible dog crate for camping is useful and provides a safe spot for your dog to rest outdoors in a shady position. Set the crate up in your tent (if it is spacious enough) for nighttime comfort.
Other things such as a dog bed that is both portable and comfortable should be on your packing list.
It may even need to be waterproof if the ground is damp. If you don’t already have a bed that will be suitable, invest in one that you can use solely for traveling with your dog.
Leash or Harness
Most camping areas have stringent rules about keeping dogs contained. Make sure that you have your dog’s favorite leash or harness. But also bring a backup in case it breaks or is lost.
A long leash is especially good for allowing your dog to roam a bit further afield when hiking.
4. Choose recreational equipment.
If you are planning to do activities such as kayaking or paddle-boarding for example, you will need a life jacket for your dog. Your dog’s collar should also be water safe.
If you are planning a night hike, a reflective collar is a great idea for keeping an eye on your pooch.
5. Camping safety
A dog-friendly first aid kit is an essential part of your dog camping gear. Keep things such as vaccination records, medications, bandages, gauze, tweezers, a canine thermometer, and adhesive tape in it. Most canine-specific first aid kits also double as human first aid kits.
Let your friends or family know your plans.
It’s especially important for someone to know where you are going when you won’t have mobile service. Research your destination to find out if your service provider offers coverage.
Prepare for conditions.
If the weather forecast predicts extreme weather, you need to be prepared. Extra water and sun protection will be essential in hot conditions. Layers of clothing, extra bedding, and reliable transport will be necessary for extreme cold.
Before you go Tent Camping with Dogs
1. Groom your dog.
Does your dog need a haircut? If you’re going to camp in very hot weather and your dog has a long coat, book a grooming appointment before leaving. This will help to keep your dog cool – especially important if you plan on hiking long distances.
Also, keeping your dog claws clipped will ensure that any rough terrain won’t irritate sensitive paws.
2. Ensure your dog is identifiable.
Dogs can often go wandering or escape their collar or crate. If a dog sees, smells, or hears a wild animal, it can take chase in excitement.
Make sure that your dog is microchipped. It will at least be identifiable if it wanders off. At the very least, it should wear an ID tag attached to its collar with your name and number clearly printed.
Print a clear photo of your dog or have one on your phone in case of escape. It’s much easier than trying to describe your dog’s physical appearance.
3. Book a vet checkup.
Is your dog fit and able enough to go on a camping trip? If it suffers from bad arthritis pain in cold weather, for example, you should rethink going camping in the winter. Take medications that will keep your dog comfortable during the trip.
Make sure that your dog is up to date with its vaccination schedule. Like boarding kennels, most dog-friendly camping areas will require you to have proof of current vaccinations.
You can obtain a hard copy record of these from your dog’s vet. Just ask them to provide you with a record that you can take with you.
If you’re planning on exploring an area that puts your dog at risk of parasites such as ticks, ask your vet about the best prevention protocol. Tick-borne diseases are carried by wild animals (such as deer) and can be extremely dangerous for dogs so please make sure your dog is covered.
4. Check the weather forecast.
Weather can turn quickly in coastal and mountainous areas so it’s advisable to have an idea about the weather conditions before leaving to go camping with your dog.
Wet weather means that you’ll need the right gear to keep your dog warm and sheltered (and you of course!). An extra bed, blanket, or coat is advisable so your dog can be comfortable if his bedding gets wet.
It’s useful to have a dog raincoat so you can for walks in the rain – of course, this is assuming that you have packed a raincoat for yourself!
During wet weather, a range of stimulating toys such as interactive puzzles can be a lifesaver. They will provide a welcome distraction for your pup whilst unable to go outside.
Tips for Weather Extremes
A cold weather snap can be a shock so be prepared with a heavyweight warm dog coat and extra padded bedding.
Your dog will warm up quickly with vigorous running and playing. As soon as he stops to rest, however, provide warm layers as he will cool down very quickly.
If very hot weather is predicted for your camping trip, there are some things you can do to avoid the risk of your dog overheating.
Ensure that you have a water bowl for your dog that is large enough (in volume) that the water in it won’t get too hot, too quickly. Refresh the water bowl regularly with clean water and place it in a spot that is shady and cool for the whole day.
Before You Go To Sleep
Take your dog outdoors to allow him to go to the bathroom one last time before settling for the night. Offer a drink of fresh clean water and you should be good to hit the sack.
Ensure that you secure the zips and enclosures on any tent doors before turning in to ensure that your dog doesn’t escape during the night. This is particularly important if you are a heavy sleeper and not prone to waking if there is movement around you.
Tent fans are a very compact and useful addition to your gear list. Not only will they provide some airflow during stuffy nights, but they can also be a soothing source of constant sound. This can be useful if your dog is quick to bark at nighttime noises as it can provide a soothing sense of ease.
Where is the Best Place to Camp with Your Dog?
The options are endless when it comes to camping with your dog. You can camp in the wilderness, on the beach, in a forest, or in a designated dog-friendly camping ground.
Campgrounds are great for first-time dog campers as they usually have a supplies store, mobile reception, and support if you find yourself with a problem.
Wilderness Camping with Dogs
Camping with your dog in a wilderness area presents some extra challenges. Your dog may encounter a wild animal, give chase and even become lost.
It’s really important to ensure that your dog is restrained at all times in wilderness areas to prevent this. There is also a risk of you or your dog getting hurt by stinging insects, snakes, or physical mishaps such as falling. Be cautious and approach your trip with a sensible and calm demeanor.
Camping in a forest also means that you won’t have access to modern conveniences. Be prepared for contingencies to ensure you don’t run out of food, water, or clean clothing.
Many people get caught off guard when they experience extreme weather changes and are not prepared. Feeling cold, wet, and miserable can make what should be a great camping trip with your dog, a nightmare.
Should you take your mobile phone?
Another consideration is whether you have a mobile phone service in your camping area. It’s great to leave your phone behind to enjoy the peace and tranquility of camping in nature.
But if it’s your first time camping with your dog, it can be reassuring to know that you can call someone if you are experiencing difficulties or even an emergency.
Finding dog-friendly campgrounds is easy with sites such as Kampgrounds of America. You can search specifically for a dog-friendly campground by location and they even have a rewards program for frequent visitors.
Have Great Facilities
Campgrounds tend to have more structured facilities available such as bathrooms, cafes, and laundries. Some may even have a fenced dog play area and dog washing station.
If you are camping with your dog for the first time, these campsites can be a good option for your first trip. You can also be assured that there will be other ‘dog people’ staying in the same place.
Meet other Dog People
This is a great opportunity for you to meet like-minded dog owners. Your dog can also enjoy the mental stimulation of socializing with other dogs.
Other dogs will enjoy some playtime with your dog too, which will help to expend some of your four-legged friend’s physical energy.
If you intend on visiting a dog-friendly campground, you will need to make sure that your dog has basic obedience skills. This is usually a minimum requirement.
Many campgrounds are dog friendly, but it is recommended that you get in touch with the manager and find out the rules regarding camping with dogs.
Dog Friendly Campground Rules
1. No aggressive dogs
The number one rule that most camping areas enforce, is that aggressive dogs are not allowed. And understandably so. Campgrounds are family-friendly areas and your dog will not be welcome if it poses a safety threat to any other campers or dogs.
If you do have an aggressive dog, consider leaving your dog at home or in a boarding facility while you are away. Or consider other options such as camping in a wilderness area that is some distance away from others.
Keeping your dog on a lead or in a crate, and even fitting a muzzle for extra safety can help you to experience camping in a wilderness area, even with a reactive or aggressive dog.
2. Keep your dog on a leash at all times.
Campgrounds also usually require all dogs to be restrained with a leash that is no more than six feet long. If your dog isn’t well-trained to walk with a leash, this could pose a problem.
It might be a good idea before going on a camping trip with your dog, to train your dog to walk on a leash. Most dogs find that they get used to leash walking very quickly.
Most will happily stay on the leash during a camping trip if you take them for lots of walks to burn off energy and provide mental stimulation.
3. No excessive barking
It goes without saying that a dog that barks all night will not be welcome at any campground where other people are sleeping.
Of course, most dog-friendly campers understand that ‘dogs are dogs’. And dogs bark from time to time. But a dog that barks continuously during the day or regularly throughout the night will probably be met with complaints by others for excessive sleep disturbance. The campground manager will probably request that you leave the grounds in this case.
4. Pick up after your dog.
This one goes without saying. Always pick up your dog’s poop and dispose of it responsibly. You might find a dog friendly campground that provides doggie waste disposal bags in case you forget to bring your own.
Start Planning Your Dog Tent Camping Trip
Tent camping with your dog for the first time is such an exciting way to spend time with your furry friend. Proper planning and being organized will make your experience lots of fun.
Having all the appropriate dog camping gear, pre-booking a campsite, and watching the weather will go a long way to ensure that you and your dog enjoy a camping trip that you both remember.