4 dogs sitting outside of a tent at a campsite

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How to go Tent Camping with a Dog

If you are looking for a way to bring your dog on vacation and you both love being outdoors, then you will want to consider taking your dog camping. With proper preparation, this can be a great experience for both you and your pup. This guide will go over what camping gear you will need, what to look for when picking a campsite, and other useful tips for camping with a dog. Get ready for an awesome year of exploring the outdoors with your furry best friend!

4 dogs sitting outside of a tent at a campsite

We invite you to join our Facebook group for Traveling Pet Owners for a safe space to ask questions and get ideas on how to make traveling with your pets a positive experience.

Dog Camping Gear

Aside from your own gear and your dog’s basic needs (bowls, food, medication, and plenty of water), there are some things that you will want to make sure you bring with you when you go camping with your dog.

If you’d like a ready-made checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything for your pup’s camping trip as well as other useful lists and templates from our Freebie Library, subscribe here!

Remington’s Pup Memory Passport– Make sure you have something (like our Pup Passport) that has all the important information about your pup in one easily accessible place in case of an emergency. Our Passport also allows you to write down any notes you’d like to take that will help you plan your next trip and is a great place to record your pup’s favorite travel memories!

Dog carrying a 'pup memory passport' in its mouth. There are close up shots of the pages in the book showing where to enter info and place photos

ID Tags– Double check that the information on their dog tags and microchips is up to date and secured on your pet.

Blank Dog Id tag in the shape of a bone

Tie Out– this will make it easier to do certain tasks if you know your dog is safe and secure nearby.

Handsfree leash– If you have a more anxious dog, this will help keep your hands free but allow your dog to be near you. These are great for hikes too.

Comb– If your dog has the type of hair where things get easily tangled, make sure to bring a comb with to get debris out of their fur. Find one that works with your dog’s particular type of hair.

black dog with leaves stuck in hair all over

Flashlight/Headlamp- Make sure you have a good flashlight for the after-dark potty breaks your dog will need to go on.

Light-up collar/leash– If your dog is darker in color, you may consider a leash or collar that lights up to make it easier to see them at night. Personally, I have tripped over our black dog Kiara too many times to count in the dark, even when we are at home.

Dog bed/blanket– Your dog will appreciate having a softer option to lay down on than the tented ground. Especially after all the extra activity, they are probably getting.

Tent Fan- This will help with air circulation and keep the tent a bit cooler.

Jacket/Cool Down Neck– Have ways to help them deal with either hot or cold temperatures to keep them comfortable.

First Aid Kit– Remember to bring along a dog first aid kit. If you want a list of items that you should consider having along, take a look at the DIY Dog First Aid Kit post. If you already have a kit for yourself, you can easily add some things to make it more dog-friendly to save money.

GPS Tracking– Consider getting a GPS tracking device like the FitBark GPS tracker for your pup so you can find them in case they run off. Accidents do happen and they may not be able to find their way back to you in a new place.

For more ideas on what to make the road trip itself more comfortable, we put it all together in our Dog Road Trip Supplies guide.

Planning a Camping Trip with a Dog

When planning a camping trip with dogs, you will want to heavily consider the area and the time of year you are looking to go. When you travel with an animal, keep in mind that many indoor attractions do not allow pets. This means that the bulk of your time will be spent outdoors in whatever weather is happening. You don’t want your dog to suffer from heat-related illness or be too cold. Some dogs like pugs and huskies are more prone to overheating than other breeds.

4 huskies lined up and drinking water next to a waterfall

It will usually be best to avoid the heat of the summer (tents can get very hot) or the dead of winter in many places. Explore what indoor options may be available in the area if the weather suddenly takes a turn for the worse. In many places, the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) are the times you will want to book your trips but that does not mean winter and summer are completely off-limits. Winter camping in Florida will be much more pleasurable than winter camping with your dog in Minnesota.

Tent set up in snow next to a tent set up on a beach near palm trees

Check the trails around your campground to make sure they are dog-friendly.  Some park systems will allow dogs in their campgrounds but do not allow dogs on their trails in the park. This is a common occurrence in many National Parks in the United States.

Do some research and become familiar with the dangerous animals that live in the area you are looking to camp in. It is important to know what to keep an eye out for both you and your dog. You will want to know if there are any poisonous snakes or scorpions around (in which case don’t leave your shoes outside the tent and don’t let your dog investigate holes in the ground or in brush piles). You will also want to be aware of any larger predators in the area, especially if you have a smaller dog.

If you are looking for more tips on preparing for a vacation with your dog, you can find them here.

Trial run

Before you book a campsite for a long vacation across the country, make sure to do a few camping trial runs. This will help you and your dog to prepare for the upcoming experience and let you know if there are any other items you may need to get to make the ultimate trip a successful one. If your dog (or you) have never been camping, practice putting up your tent and spending time in it together in a backyard if you have one available.

 Make sure you work with your dog on not trying to run out of the tent every time you open the flap. If you notice this is a problem, you can always put their leash on them before you open the tent flap to lessen the chance that they are able to run away.

Practice Makes Perfect

If you have the time, consider doing an additional practice run at a nearby campsite for 1-3 nights to get the full experience of being around other campers and in an unfamiliar area. Doing this will tell you what additional things you and your dog might need to work on and if it might be better to hold off on a faraway trip for a little bit longer.

 If you plan on camping with a friend and their dog, this is a good opportunity to see if you need to bring separate tents. If things don’t go well, you are not too far from home if you have to shorten the trip.

Picking a Dog-friendly Campsite

When you are ready to book a campsite, the most important thing is to make sure that the campground is in fact, dog friendly. Check the campground’s website for the most updated information. Another thing to look for is what restrictions or requirements the campground may have. Many campgrounds have a 2-dog per campsite rule and others may want proof of vaccinations. Be aware that the pet rules may not be easy to find so be sure to check the rules and regulations plus the FAQ pages on their website. You can also call to speak to someone directly.

Once you find a campground, it is time to pick a campsite. When selecting a campsite, it is best to look for one in a low-traffic area to limit the chances of your dog barking at other campers and hikers walking by your tent. You will want to avoid sites near the bathroom, trailheads, and other popular amenities like a pool. Look for a site at a dead end if possible.

Tent with only nature around it (not near other campers)

Before booking, you will also want to confirm that the campsite you are considering is dog friendly, as some places have designated sites for pups. If it is a slower campground, you can also see if there are sites available that don’t have the neighboring sites booked already. This will give you and your dog much-appreciated space and privacy during your trip if they remain empty.

Arriving at the Campsite

Once you arrive at the campsite and check-in, take your dog for a walk before you start setting your tent up. This will give them a chance to go to the bathroom and get some of their energy out after being in the car. You will also want to check your campsite and the area around it for things like discarded food, trash, toxic plants, animal waste, and anything else you don’t want your dog to get into.

4 dogs walking a trail with their owner

Depending on your patience and your pet, you can keep them on leash with you as you set up your campsite or use a tie-out to keep them in one place. Most campsites (for safety reasons) do not allow you to leave your dog alone so don’t forget to bring them with you if you are leaving the campsite for any reason.

Tips for Camping with Dogs

Keep them tired

Take them on plenty of walks and other outings. Remember the golden rule for canines; a tired dog is a good dog. Barking and other destructive behavior can increase if they have pent-up energy. By making sure they are getting proper exercise, they will be better behaved during your trip.

4 dogs laying down in campsite; two of them are sleeping

Provide More Water Than You Think You Need

Keep your dog properly hydrated to avoid any heat-related illnesses. They will likely drink more water than you would expect. Make sure to always bring more than you think you will need on your hikes and always keep their bowl full at the campsite.

Water being poured out of a jug

Stick closely to their normal schedule

This is especially important if you have a more anxious dog. Try to feed them around the same time as you would at home so there is some sort of normalcy even when you are traveling. Remember that they will still most likely need to go to the bathroom at the same time in the morning and that their bodies are used to going to bed at a certain time. They might even want to go to bed early if you do a lot of hiking.


Try to clean up any food after their meals. You don’t want to attract wild animals to your campsite with spilled dog food or treats.

If your dog doesn’t have a huge appetite, you may want to bring something special like treats or wet food to mix into their meal to ensure they are getting enough calories and nutrition during the trip. You may even want to make sure they get extra treats during the day since they will most likely be burning extra calories. Just be careful that you don’t overdo it and cause them to gain unnecessary weight.

Dog eating out of a dog bowl outside

Going on a trip can be a big change for your dog, they may stop eating, eat less, or have loose stool due to stress. Keep an eye on them so you can decide whether you may need to change your plans or take additional steps to keep them healthy.

Tent Tips

Bring an extra blanket to keep over your inflatable mattress pad to keep it from accidentally being popped by your dog’s nails.  Many mattresses are sturdy, but this will offer an extra layer of protection to keep them safe.

inflatable mattress inside of a tent

Remember that your tent is not solid. You should never leave your pet alone, especially in your tent. If they become anxious it is very easy for them to tear through your tent and escape.

Bring a Good Flashlight

This is worth repeating; you will want a good flashlight or even a light-up leash for the middle of the night bathroom breaks. This will help you from twisting an ankle and being aware of what is in the area when you walk at night. It is guaranteed that you or your dog will need to use the bathroom at least once in the middle of the night.

Person using a flashlight on a trail at night

Learn from Each Experience

You and your dog will continue to get used to camping together and fine-tune the process to better fit your individual needs. Camping is a great activity that you can spend together and strengthen your bond. Use these tips for camping with dogs to set yourself up for success for your next vacation. Remember that things may not go perfectly and that is perfectly fine. Use each trip as a learning opportunity to make your next one even better! If you realize that camping is not for you or your dog, you can always explore other accommodation options or leave them with a pet sitter.

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About Author

Animal and wildlife enthusiast that currently owns four dogs, loves to travel, and try new things while saving as much money as possible!

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