5 Tips For A Successful Camping Trip With Your Dog

There's nothing better than spending a few days out in nature with your best friend. But if your best bud has a bit more fluff than the average human, a camping trip looks a little different. For many dogs, getting in the car and going on an adventure with their favorite person is extremely exciting. And when you arrive in a new area, there are so many new smells to sniff and people to ... well, also sniff.

But the thought of taking a camping trip with your dog might be stressful if you've never done it before. How do you make sure everyone is comfortable at night? What do you need to take? Are you even allowed to have a dog on a campsite? Going camping with your dog requires a little preparation so that you both get to enjoy yourselves to the full. Luckily. we've got some tips to make sure you both have a paws-itively amazing experience.

Preparation is key

Your dog needs to be well-trained for you both to have fun at a campsite. Redditors in the r/CampingGear forum are huge on dogs needing good recall on a camping or hiking trip. If you need to, practice commands like "come" — to get your dog away from wildlife and other campers — and "leave it," which is especially useful when your dog discovers a snake on the trail or is trying to chew some unidentifiable poop.

It's also a good idea to do some trial runs before going camping. Take your dog for longer than usual walks in nature (this is particularly important if you live in the city), and if you buy any gear for your dog — more on that in a moment — let them practice wearing or using it.

Whether you're taking your dog out into the wilderness or just going camping a few miles from home, it's a good idea to take them for a check-up at the vet before you go. Make sure that your pup is up-to-date on vaccinations and consider some tick and flea prevention measures. If your dog isn't microchipped, think about getting a chip put in before you go just in case it gets loose and wander off. All of this will give you peace of mind that your pooch will be safe during your trip.

Choose the location carefully

Many of the U.S.'s public lands welcome dogs, including a lot of National Parks, so you have a ton of choices. The U.S. National Parks Service even runs B.A.R.K. Ranger programs to help you enjoy your trip to the parks with your four-legged friend. But before you book a glorious backcountry campsite that requires a 7-mile hike to reach, think about your pup and its usual behavior.

If you're the proud owner of a French Bulldog, you might want to choose an easily accessible site that doesn't require a lot of walking. On the other hand, your Border Collie will delight in a long trek. Just as people can't go from being couch potatoes to walking 10 miles in one day, neither can dogs. Consider what your dog likes, too — if you're traveling with a Labrador, for example, consider getting a campsite near the beach. Taking your dog's needs and wants into account when choosing your site will make the trip a whole lot more fun.

First aid, food, and drink

Your pup is probably going to act like an excited 4-year-old on a camping trip, especially if it's their first time, so injuries — like cut paws or scrapes from rocks and bushes — might happen. Pack bandages and antiseptic (you can probably share these), as well as a soft muzzle and a good pair of tweezers to extract those pesky ticks.

Since you're going to bring your dog's food from home, make sure you have enough. At camp, only bring out your dog's food at feeding times, and store it securely to avoid attracting unwanted visitors. If your campsite has food storage boxes, put your kibble in there too.

Check if the water sources are safe for your dog to drink around the camp and if not, bring enough of your own water for them or purify the camp water by boiling it. Keep on top of your dog's hydration, especially if you're hiking (on average, dogs need 8 ounces of water per hour of hiking). It's a good idea to bring a collapsible water bowl for your dog to drink out of.

Pack the right gear

The market for dog-friendly camping and hiking accessories has exploded, and you could easily spend hundreds of dollars kitting out your dog. While that might be excessive, there are a few essentials. You likely already have a comfortable leash, but consider a harness if you don't currently use one. Several Redditors in the r/camping forum suggest getting a long leash, a tether rope to attach to a tree, or a steel pole you can put in the ground and attach the leash to. That way, your dog can roam without going too far. And yes, your dog should be leashed most — if not all — of the time.

Poop bags are the other bare necessity: always pick up after your dog, even in rural areas. Alternatively, dog owners on Reddit in the r/CampingandHiking forum also suggest burying your dog's poop, so bring a small shovel. You could also buy a doggy backpack (you must let your dog practice wearing this) and booties if the ground is hot. Many Reddit users in the r/camping forum also recommend putting a glowing collar on your dog — or at least attaching something bright to their collar so you can find them in the dark.

How to sleep comfortably

For sleeping, bring your dog's bed from home if you can. One user in the r/CampingGear forum on Reddit suggests putting a pad under your dog's normal bed for insulation, too. Plan to co-sleep with your furry friend. To do this, you'll need a good-sized tent so it doesn't get stuffy overnight. Hopefully, if you're next to them, your dog won't react to all of the scurrying animals outside quite so much. Redditors in the same forum suggest playing white noise at night to keep your dog calm.

You can also consider purchasing a camping kennel, camping crate, or portable dog bed — depending on your budget, the amount of space you have available, and how comfortable your dog is with these products.