Tips to Prepare for Camping with Dogs

A dog in a sleeping bag in a camping tent.
A dog in a sleeping bag in a camping tent. Photography ©Jupiterimages | Thinkstock.

Camping is more fun with your four-legged friend, but there are details to consider before Fido joins you down that hiking trail or snuggles up next to you in a tent under the stars. Keeping him safe is the first step toward a successful camping trip. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when camping with dogs:

1. Call ahead and ensure that it’s a dog-friendly campsite

A dog and a person camping.
Dog and person camping. Photography by Shutterstock.

Confirm that the campground, state or national park you want to visit allows dogs. Find out the rules that apply to dogs at that particular location. Will your dog have to be on leash at all times? What length leash is required? On many campgrounds, dogs must be confined to camping areas and aren’t allowed near beaches, lakes or picnic tables. Some campgrounds are super dog friendly but may also charge a fee for each dog.

2. Have bug spray for dogs

Just as you bring bug spray for yourself, ensure your dog is up-to-date on his flea and tick medication and heartworm prevention. Insecticidal garments, blankets and beds for dog that have been treated with permethrin are great as an added layer of protection. Check your dog for ticks every day if he has been rummaging in weeds, shrubs or tall grasses.

3. What to pack when camping with dogs

Pack everything your dog needs for your journey, including:

  • Plenty of poop bags
  • Your dog’s usual food
  • Water bowls or bottle (including a portable dog bowl/bottle that you can clip to your belt when hiking)
  • Bedding and toys
  • Extra leash and harness
  • Illuminated collar, harness or illuminated collar clip-ons for after-dark use
  • First-aid kit for dogs
  • Hard-sided carrier (in an emergency, it will be helpful to be able to confine your dog)
  • Portable fencing or x-pen
  • Copy of your dog’s vaccination records

4. Watch the dog around the campsite

Keep an eye on your dog at all times because:

  • Camping is synonymous with hot dogs, hamburgers and s’mores — all temptations for your furry friend.
  • Campground garbage cans can also overflow with refuse that may prove to be irresistible to your dog.
  • Other campers’ dogs might not be friendly.
  • Children in the area may rush up to your dog and surprise him.
  • Your dog might drink from standing water, which can cause stomach upset, beaver fever (giardiasis) — or worse.

5. Don’t forget ID

Keeping identification on your dog is critical when camping. Put an ID tag on his collar and harness, and if you change collars for bathing, the “bath collar” should have an ID on it as well. Microchip your dog and ensure his chip information is up to date.

6. Tailor camping activities to your dog

Don’t push your dog beyond his capabilities when planning activities. An athletic, fit young dog will be able to keep up on a long uphill hike. A couch potato, brachycephalic (smush faced) breed or senior dog may not be able to keep up on a long hike, especially if the climate is hot. Offer your dog plenty of water, and check his paw pads regularly to ensure that they aren’t becoming sore.

Cool camping supplies for dogs and their parents:

Camping supplies for your dog are as important as they are for the humans in your camping party. Here are a few companies who specialize in rugged outdoor gear for canines:

Outward Hound:

Outward Hound dog backpack.

Check out Outward Hounds Pooch Pouch Backpack, a front carrier for small dogs; the Outward Hound DayPak, which securely holds all of your walking and hiking essentials; the colorful Standley Sport Life Jacket, because dogs love to swim and need to be safe; and the Crest Stone Explore Pack, which includes compression saddle bags and webbed straps, allowing your dog to move freely while keeping your essentials secure.


Mountainsmith Dog Pack.

Mountainsmith’s K9 Dogpack is a “dogonomically” correct gear hauler, designed with the assistance of a sled dog veterinarian; Mountainsmith’s K-9 Cube makes traveling with a dog simple and organized; and Mountainsmith’s stuffable, washable, portable canine bed is great for base camp or trail, compressing down into its own stuff-sack for tossing in the back of the truck or backpack.


Ruffwear’s Highlands Sleeping Bag.

Check out Ruffwear’s Highlands Sleeping Bag, a packable, durable sleeping bag for warmth, comfort and insulation on the trail; Ruffwear’s Jet Stream, a cooling vest which efficiently cools dogs during light and fast, high-intensity adventures through shading and evaporative cooling; the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler provides protection from the sun and cooling through evaporation.


Kurgo’s Collaps A Bowl.

Kurgo’s Collaps A Bowl is barely an inch thick when collapsed, fits into a backpack or a dog’s backpack, or a tiny corner of your car, holds up to 24 fluid ounces and is dishwasher friendly and BPA free. Kurgo’s Quantum converts into a hands-free dog leash that goes around the waist or over the shoulder courier style and, with a quick change, it can become a double dog walker.

Tell us: Have you ever been camping with your dog? What do you pack or do when camping with dogs?

Thumbnail: Photography ©Jupiterimages | Thinkstock.

Read more about fall fun and dogs on

Nikki Moustaki is a dog trainer, dog rescuer and pet expert. She splits her time between New York City and Miami Beach, Florida, and is the author of the memoir The Bird Market of Paris. Visit her on Facebook, on Twitter at @nikkimoustaki and at

Editor’s note: This article appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you

13 thoughts on “Tips to Prepare for Camping with Dogs”

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  11. Unexpected circumstances can arise when you are camping with your dog.Your dog can help you and you can help your dog! You must plan ahead of time for the things that your dog needs and it is really important to know if your desired camping site is a dog-friendly campsite.

  12. Love this post!
    I’ve never been camping with my dog but I have been and stayed in a caravan and all these tips still apply!
    Extremely helpful for travelling dog owners!!

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