5 Tips for Family Camping with the Dog

By: Jessika Toothman
5 Tips for Family Camping with the Dog
Group of young Caucasian friends camping with dog in the woods. Focus on a adorable brown dog, SrdjanPav / Getty Images

Veteran family campers know "The Checklist" typically gets pretty extensive. From lanterns to lighter fluid and sleeping bags to first-aid supplies, chances are, the car is going to end up crammed by the time you've packed everything you could need.

Of course, the supplies you'll pack will vary depending on what kind of camping trip you're planning, but if you decide to bring the family dog along, there are some crucial items you'll definitely need to find room for.


So once you've selected a canine-friendly campsite, be sure to keep in mind the following considerations.

5: Health Homework

Before you head out, be sure to put flea and tick medicine on your dog (especially if you plan on doing much hiking), and check that it's up to date on vaccinations. You'll want to bring the rabies vaccination certificate along when you go.

You might also consider microchipping your pet, but at the very least, you should ensure that it has a proper collar with identification tags listing several pieces of information. Put your name on there, along with your mobile number and the number of a friend or relative who can be called in case you're not in a coverage area. You should also have a tag that lists the name and number of the campground where you're staying.


4: Pup Preparation

Pup Preparation
Front view of grinning children aged 5-15 lying on fronts inside tent opening with dog and smiling at camera. JohnnyGreig / Getty Images

If your family dog isn't used to the great outdoors, its first camping excursion could be a bit of a shock. Paws sore from sticks and pinecones, senses overwhelmed from sights and sounds, legs tired from trekking around -- these sorts of things can stress dogs out or even frighten them. You don't want your dog barking its head off and disturbing other campers, so think of ways to keep your pup happy and calm.

If a camping trip is coming up, it's a good idea to spend a little time getting your dog used to nature -- and in better physical shape -- by taking it hiking at a nearby nature preserve or other wooded area. Then the dog will be more relaxed when it comes time to camp.


3: Creature Comforts

You'll be packing food and beverages for your family, not to mention a tent, sleeping bags, and an assortment of items like blankets, folding chairs and rain gear, so you'll also want to include a number of items necessary for meeting your dog's basic needs.

Pack plenty of food, treats and water (plus doggy dishes). Grab a few favorite toys, some blankets and towels, a bed and a brush. Dogs can get sunburns and injuries, so a doggie first-aid kit and sunscreen aren't bad ideas, and you might want to include a little extra dish soap and shampoo to clean the animals if they get dirty.


The weather (which you should check beforehand to make sure it won't be too hot or too cold for your canine) is also a good guideline for tailoring what you pack. If it looks like rain, a carrier could provide a refuge for your dog to stay dry. If it's hot, ask for a campsite with some shade. If it's cold, consider bringing warm accessories like dog boots.

2: Doggy Duty

Doggy Duty
Two child lying in tent at morning and having a fun miljko / Getty Images

When you're out camping, it's important to be dutiful when it comes to picking up after your pet. Pack plenty of doggie bags, and keep an eye out for when your dog goes.

Dispose of the waste afterward in a garbage bin or other designated container. You don't want to leave it lying around where other campers -- or your kids -- can step in it.


If a receptacle isn't available, the next best option is to bury it, so you may want to bring a little folding shovel dedicated to the task.

1: Leash Laws

Chances are, if you're the type of person who's considering bringing the family dog along on your next camping outing, you think your canine is pretty all-around awesome. But no matter how well-behaved and obedient you think your dog is, when you're out in the wild it's crucial for it to be on a leash at all times. Your dog will be exposed to tons of new smells -- especially if it's a city dog -- many in the form of potentially dangerous plants and wild animals, along with fellow campers who might not be all that excited at the sight of your dog trotting over to check out their campsite

So to avoid any trouble or stolen s'mores supplies, keep the dog leashed. It's also a good idea to pack two leashes in case one breaks. Your dog will still enjoy the trip, and it'll stay much safer with a little forethought and planning.


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