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Checklist for Camping With Dogs

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Camping with dogs can be enormously fun. Personally, I’d rather go camping with my dog than with most people!

But just like camping with kids, you need to be very well prepared for having your pooch by your side on your next camping trip. That’s true whether you’re camping in the spring or summer, or if you plan a trip right now during the fall.

So, to help you get ready for your one-on-one road trip with your best friend, let’s learn a few tricks about how to camp with your dog with this dog camping checklist.

Camping With Dogs: Plan Ahead

Dog camping on a beach

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This might seem like a “well, duh” piece of advice, but you’d be surprised how many people go camping with their doggo, only to encounter all sorts of issues.

Case in point – I went camping with some friends last year who brought along their border collie. She’s a very well-behaved pup, and I would have zero problems camping with her again.

There was just one problem…

The campground we wanted to camp at had strict leash rules for dogs – absolutely no off-leash time was allowed. This didn’t jive with how my friends like to camp with their dog. They like her to be off-leash so she can explore.

dog camping checklist

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As a result, we had to change our plans at the last minute and go boondocking on Forest Service land instead. It was still a fun weekend, but because my friends didn’t plan ahead and make sure the campground allowed their dog to roam free, we had to do a little extra work to make the weekend enjoyable for all.

So, before you head out, Google “dog friendly camping near me” and review exactly what the terms are you have to abide by to have your four-legged friend along for the ride.

Quick Tip: If you’re camping with a puppy (or an older dog that doesn’t always come when called), it’s a good idea to keep them on a leash or otherwise contained, even if it isn’t required. Having a means to contain your dog is important when taking your dog camping for the first time as well. Let them get used to being there before you let them roam free, and don’t let them roam free if you have any concerns about whether they will come to you when called.

How to Camp With Your Dog: Don’t Be That Guy

dog camping checklist

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I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been camping and other campers have dogs that bark incessantly or roam around unattended (or both). Even worse, there’s been a few times that I’ve been camping and people near me have gone off to hike or fish and leave their dog tied up to a tree at camp.

If you’re taking a puppy camping or an adult dog camping, you need to ensure that their presence isn’t disturbing others.

I’m not saying you should leave your dog locked up in your camper all the time, but certainly don’t let them wander around the campground as though you own the place.

Dog with backpack on a trail

Photo by FiN85 via iStock

Likewise, have control over your pooch and ensure that they aren’t barking all the time. Campgrounds (established or dispersed) offer all sorts of stimulation for dogs, so it’s understandable that they will be excited and find many things to bark at. But no one wants to hear your dog barking all day long, either.

Camping with dogs requires that you take responsibility for keeping your dog under control and quiet. If your dog is questionable around other dogs, around strangers, around children, or if they aren’t quite there yet with obeying your commands every single time, you shouldn’t be looking for “dog friendly camping near me.” Instead, you should be asking yourself, “should I take my dog camping in the first place?”

How to Camp With a Dog

Wet Dog

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Whether you’re wondering how to tent camp with a dog or how to camp with a dog in a camper or RV, there are similar considerations to be made.

First, where will your dog sleep? In a tent, this is perhaps a more important question as tents offer much tighter quarters for your furry friend to curl up and take a snooze. If you have a camper or RV, there’s probably a corner somewhere that you can put your dog’s bed so he’s comfortable for the night.

Second, over the course of the day, your dog will almost assuredly get dirty. You don’t want dirt and mud in your tent or camper, so how will you go about cleaning your dog? Have you packed doggie shampoo and towels? Or will you need to take them to the nearest river to clean off? And once they’re clean, where are they going to hang out so they don’t get dirty again?

Dog in a sleeping bag

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Third, is your dog up to date on its vaccinations? Do you have proof of those vaccinations? What is your plan if your dog is injured? Be sure you find a veterinarian near where you’ll be camping and that you have their phone number in case of emergency.

A fourth thing to consider when camping for dogs is if you have enough bedding to keep them comfortable and warm. This is more important if you’re tent camping with a dog than if you’re in a camper, but either way, you want your best friend to have a comfortable night’s rest!

A final thought to ponder is this – if you’re heading out from camp to a place that dogs aren’t allowed, what are you going to do with your dog in the meantime? If you have a camper or RV, you might be able to safely keep them inside, so long as it doesn’t get too hot. If that’s not an option, is it cool enough to leave them in the car? Remember that vehicles can get very hot even on days when it’s cool outside, so you need to be absolutely sure your dog will be comfortable and not in danger of overheating.

Dog Camping List

Dog in packed car

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Camping with dogs means you need to create a dog camping checklist of all the gear they require. Here’s a quick checklist to consult:

  • Food and water
  • Food and water bowls
  • Treats
  • Toys
  • Bed and blankets
  • Collar, leash, and harness
  • Poop bags
  • Towels for cleaning and drying your dog
  • Medications, if needed

Regarding tips for camping with a puppy, be sure you add piddle pads to your checklist for camping with dogs. Having a mess in your tent or RV is the last thing you want to deal with!

Camping With Dogs is a Lot of Fun

Dog in a tent

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Taking a dog camping for the first time can be a little intimidating, as can learning how to camp with a puppy. Heck, taking your adult dog camping can be a little stressful!

However, all the planning and preparation you need to undertake is totally worth it. By following the tips I’ve outlined here, you should be in a good position to have a great time camping with your pooch.

There’s a reason why dogs are called man’s best friend. They can be ideal companions on your camping trips, overlanding trips, and off-road adventures.

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