Tips for Camping with Your Dog

Tips for Camping with Your Dog

What could be more fun than getting away from it all and sleeping under the stars with your four-legged best friend? Many dogs love the great outdoors as much as people do — and maybe even more. With a little prep and the right gear, you and your dog can look forward to an adventure. Here are our tips for camping with your dog.

Find a Dog‐Friendly Campsite 

Most campgrounds welcome dogs — but every park has its own set of pet policies, so check their rules and regulations before you go. For example, certain trails and beach areas might be off-limits to dogs year-round or at certain times of year. There are also often leash requirements and sometimes barking ordinances to be aware of.

  • The National Park Service offers a handy map plus links to their pet-friendly parks. 
  • ReserveAmerica is a great resource for finding and booking campsites around the U.S., plus getting details on each site’s pet policies.
  • BringFido provides a list of the top pet-friendly campgrounds worldwide, and even includes pricing information. 

What to Pack for a Camping Trip with Your Dog

Tent? Check. Sleeping bag? Check. Cooler? Check. Now it’s time to get your dog ready for the big camp-out: 

  • Collar/harness with ID tag and rabies tag. Your dog should also be microchipped, in case they lose their tag or collar.
  • Leash. Bringing a backup can’t hurt either in case one gets damaged. 
  • Plenty of dog food and water, along with collapsible bowls. Make sure you have a secure container for storing food to avoid attracting wild animals.
  • Lots of treats and a favorite toy.
  • Poop bags. 
  • A tent, bed, and blankets.
  • Shampoo and towels. A waterless shampoo is a great option for camping trips.
  • Sunscreen. Did you know that dogs can get sunburned, too? Talk to your veterinarian about which sunscreens are safe to use on your dog. 
  • Parasite protection. While you and your dog are out enjoying nature, so are fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. 
  • Pet first aid kit. You can buy one pre-assembled or make your own.
  • Booties. These will give your dog some extra traction while protecting their paws from the outdoors. 
  • Backpack. Your dog might love to carry their own food and water on your hikes
  • Life jacket. Yes, they make life jackets for dogs.

What to Do Once You Arrive

You’ve arrived at your campsite and are ready to settle in. But before you do, you’ll want to help your dog get used to their new surroundings. Take your dog for a short walk around the site so they can scope things out and go to the bathroom. Then, set up your dog’s bed with their favorite toy. Provide them with fresh water and food (if it’s their regular mealtime) or a few treats. 

Sticking close to your dog’s regular routine for walks and mealtimes will make them feel even more comfortable in their camping home away from home. After all, a worry-free pup is a happy pup.

Practice Campground Courtesy

Keeping your dog safe and being a good camping neighbor go hand-in-hand. Here are some outdoor etiquette tips to keep in mind:

  • Brush up on your dog’s training before you head out. 
  • Never leave your dog unattended or unsupervised outdoors or in a vehicle. 
  • Always pick up after your dog. Their poop can spread disease to and attract wildlife, and contaminate streams, rivers, and lakes. Plus, who wants to step in a pile of dog poop? (Answer: No one.)

The escape of camping can be even more enjoyable with your dog at your side, and following these tips can help make your adventure safe and rewarding for both of you.

Dr. Sam Gilbert, VMD

Sam Gilbert, VMD

Raised in Northern Virginia, Dr. Sam Gilbert received both his BSE and VMD degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Gilbert completed a one-year small animal internship and additional surgical training before relocating to New Jersey for roles in the medical device and animal health industries. Dr. Gilbert currently serves as the Zoetis Petcare HQ Medical Lead for pet owner directed initiatives in dermatology and cross-portfolio therapeutic areas. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, and cat.