A family camps with their dog.

Looking to take your dog on a vacation? A camping trip is a great option. Many pups enjoy spending time with their pack out in the great outdoors.

But just like some humans love it, and some humans hate it, you should take your time and consider whether or not it truly is a good fit for your dog. And when camping with canines, you also need to make sure you take the time to prepare and pack properly to ensure your trip is fun and safe.

Should you take your dog camping?

It may sound like a good idea to you… but what would your dog say if you could ask her? Be honest with yourself about your dog’s temperament and habits before heading out.

  • Does your dog become stressed-out easily?
  • Does your dog have trouble responding to commands when there are distractions?
  • Does your dog bark incessantly?
  • Does your dog resist being tethered on a leash?
  • Does your dog have medical issues that may need immediate attention?
  • Does your dog frequently run away or wander?
  • Does your dog display aggressive tendencies around other dogs or animals?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then your dog may be uncomfortable or unsafe on the trip.

Preparing to take your dog camping

Before you head out, there are a few things that you should do.

Get vaccines up to date
Visit or contact your veterinarian to ensure your dog is up-to-date on all vaccinations — or if any additional ones are recommended for the area you will be camping in.

Apply flea or tick medication
You’ll likely encounter these pests while camping with dogs, so take steps to protect your dog. Remember, they’re not just nuisances; they can also cause serious issues such as Lyme disease. Be sure to start treatments as long as possible before setting off on your trip.

Microchip your dog
Even if your dog is very obedient, there’s a chance that you may become separated, and collars can easily come off if they become tangled on a branch or other object. Take the extra step, and get him a microchip.

Make sure it’s dog-friendly
Not all campsites allow dogs, and even those that do often have specific rules. Save yourself a lot of disappointment and hassle by verifying in advance.

Start with a day trip
If it’s your first time out, keep it short, so you can learn how your dog will cope.

Let a friend or family member know you’re going
As well as where you’re going and when you expect to return. That way, if they don’t hear from you at that time, they can send help.

What to pack for your dog’s camping trip

Don’t forget to bring these important items along!

  • Collar, ID tags, and a short leash for walking
  • A stake and a longer leash for tethering
  • A crate
  • Food, water, and dishes
  • Treats
  • Poop bags
  • Bedding
  • Dog jacket and booties (if needed for the weather)
  • Towel
  • Dog brush and tick comb
  • Safety light or illuminated leash/collar for night time
  • Canine first aid kit (Here is checklist for your dog’s first aid kit
  • Medications (if your dog is on any)
  • Contact information for the nearest vet and emergency pet clinic

While you and your dog are camping

Once you reach the campgrounds, make sure you keep your dog’s needs in mind.

Provide access to clean water — at all times
Hydration is important, so make sure his bowl is full and within reach.

Supervise your dog
Going off-leash may be an option at some camping sites, but that doesn’t mean you should allow your dog free reign. Your dog can encounter any number of dangerous creatures or go chasing after prey if you don’t keep a watchful eye. Consider using a crate or tethering your dog when you are unable to pay as much attention.

Provide a warm place to sleep
The best place for your dog to sleep is in the tent with you. You’ll be aware if temperatures drop at night, and it will also keep her safe from nocturnal creatures, such as raccoons, skunks, and bears.

Watch for signs of heat stroke or over-exhaustion
All this outdoor exercise is great, but make sure it’s not too much for your dog. If he needs it, take a break.

If you must leave your dog, crate her
Leaving your dog on a leash can be dangerous if she encounters a wild animal or breaks free. Generally, a crate will keep her safer from the elements and critters if you must be away for a period of time.

Always pick up after your dog!
Leaving dog poop out — even in the wild — is disrespectful to other campers and also potentially harmful to the environment.

Check your dog for
Ticks, scratches, cuts, burs, and thorns. Don’t forget to look at the bottom of his feet and inside his nose and ears.

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