I knew last week’s post about how we go car camping would be popular, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that the next one you guys want is my tips for how to camp with dogs! We don’t always bring our dogs with us because they can be sort of a pain. Noodle is older, so the trips are really hard on him. But Lucy loooooves coming along. For us, it’s a balance of what we plan to do on the trip and what is safest for them. When I go solo camping though, I always bring at least one of the dogs with me for safety. Here are 5 suggestions to help you enjoy dog friendly camping even more this summer!
How to Camp with Dogs
This post is actually just a really good excuse for me to share all the cute photos of our dogs from adventuring with us!
Make sure dogs are allowed
Some established campgrounds have policies on whether you can bring a dog or not. And if they do allow dogs, it’s often a rule that the dogs must be leashed at all times. Because of this, always check ahead before departing to make sure! You can also disperse camp like we do (basically not in a designated campground, but on land that’s established as ok for camping). However, you should still research ahead of time to make sure the environment isn’t too fragile where a dog could cause issues. For example, if there it’s spawning season, maybe it’s not the best place to bring a dog.
Also, make sure you are prepared to handle dog waste. Bring extra poo bags and please please please pick up after your dog no matter what! Even when we are backpacking, we leave no trace.
Know your dog
This tip is truly the most important part of camping with dogs: you absolutely MUST know your dog and all of their bad behaviors. For example, Lucy does not like to be around other people unless she’s been able to meet them. She will be on edge, grumbly, and maybe even bark a lot if she can see other people, but doesn’t know them. So I remedy this by walking her over and showing her it’s ok. When you’re in the middle of nowhere, it really helps to be able to predict and troubleshoot your dog’s behavior.
There are some destructive behaviors that dogs do that aren’t conducive to camping. For example, digging. If you’re going somewhere with a fragile ecosystem, bringing a dog that digs giant holes is not the best move. You’ll definitely learn more and more about your dog when you camp them more.
Prepare a dog first aid kit
Humans bring a first aid kit camping, so why not have one for a dog, too?? Here are a few of the items we always keep on hand + how we use them:
- Hydrogen peroxide: if your dog ingests something they shouldn’t, you can make them vomit with hydrogen peroxide. But you MUST research how much to administer before you leave. I suggest doing the research based on your dog’s weight and then writing the amount in Sharpie on the bottle. That way you’re prepared in a pinch.
- Tweezers: for removing ticks, thorns, etc
- Comb: for removing foliage or anything else matted in the dog’s hair that could further embed itself into the skin
- Children’s Benedryl in case they have an allergic reaction to something and need treatment asap. Check on dosage with your vet
- Styptic powder: to slow/stop bleeding
- Vetericyn Wound & Skin Care Hydrogel: I swear by this stuff for healing wounds on all of our animals!
I also highly recommend consulting with your vet before doing anything adventurous with your dogs. They will know which vaccines are necessary and any other factors you need to know about.
Use a bear bell
Lucy has excellent recall, so when we’re disperse camping I usually let her roam. She doesn’t go far and I know I can trust her. But to give myself peace of mind, I always attach a bear bell to her collar. We use this bear bell because it has a silencer so she isn’t jingly when she doesn’t need to be. She also makes quite a racket with that thing on, which always helps to fend off predators.
Bring extra food & water
We’ve learned this the hard way, unfortunately. When we brought Lucy backpacking a few weeks ago, I’d measured out each meal… but didn’t plan for her to eat dinner on the way home! Worst dog mom ever. Basically, I just didn’t think that we’d be out that late, so I didn’t plan for that meal. From now on, I will always bring at least one extra meal and keep extras in my truck just in case! I also suggest doing this with water by keeping a gallon jug in the car at all times (that’s a good thing to do regardless!).
Everything else I pack when going camping with our dogs:
- collapsible food and water bowls
- extra dog bed
- dog coat for Noodle
- life preserver, if we’re going to be around water
- bear bell
- extra poo bags
- cordage to set up a longer dog lead
- dog treats & food
BTW, I have been having a BLAST playing with Steller lately, so I wanted to share this post I made, too. Are you on the app? If so, find me and we can share adventure stories!
What other things do you do to prepare for dog friendly camping? Leave a comment and let me know!