How to Camp with Your Dog
Tips and Gear Recommendations
Our dogs bring us joy and make our outdoor adventures better. They provide entertainment when we’re lugging a heavy pack up a trail, reminding us to laugh, smile, and enjoy the effort. They make our tents, camp chairs, and hammocks warmer and cozier. They help us remain present and alert, so that we don’t miss out on the wildlife and beauty surrounding us. They’re our outdoor companions, and the memories we create are better because our dogs were with us.
To help you share nights outside with your furry star-gazer, we’ve compiled a handful of tips for how to camp with your dog, along with some gear recommendations. Check it out!
Tips for Camping with Dogs:
1. Know the Rules
Before you start loading gear into the car, have a plan of where you’ll go, where you’ll sleep, and find out whether there are any specific rules about dogs. Different types of public lands have different sets of rules — many allow dogs, but some do not or have restrictions in place. Here’s a helpful guide to get you started. If you’re unsure about the rules for your destination, you can find out online or by calling the agency that manages the public lands you’re planning to visit.
Recommended Gear: Internet access, phone, map
2. Constant Companions
Hiking, swimming, and other outdoor activities are better with your furry pal by your side! Our thoughtfully-designed gear makes it easy to stick together so you’re not leaving your adventure buddy unattended in the car, inside your tent, or tied up at camp.
3. Good Camp & Trail Manners
Know the etiquette for the trail you’re hiking or backpacking and be aware of other users on the trail. Usually, trails that allow horses require hikers and mountain bikers to yield to horseback riders. Good recall, basic obedience, and manners like “leave it” will help keep both your canine companion and wildlife safe and go along way toward making friends with other users on the trail. At camp, keep your four-legged friend on leash and within your control. While we love dog kisses, we don’t always appreciate them while we’re eating dinner or building a campfire. If your camping buddy loves to bark and howl at the moon, consider camping at a more secluded backcountry location where he or she won’t disturb others’ experience. In short, err on the side of courtesy.
4. Leave No Trace
Pack-it-in, pack-it-out! It’s a good idea for anyone playing and exploring in the outdoors to observe the seven Leave No Trace principles for minimizing impact and preserving a pristine experience for others. This includes picking up your dog’s waste and disposing of it in a proper receptacle. Other dog-specific considerations include respecting wildlife by giving other animals and critters space (and not chase), being considerate of other users (through good manners and etiquette), and monitoring and cleaning up food crumbs, spilled kibble, or toys.
5. Meet Basic Needs & Comforts
Camping is a whole lot more fun when you’re comfortable! And when it comes to sleeping on the ground and eating meals outside, luxuries can be simple and easy to provide with a little planning. Starting with the basics, our dogs’ needs are not too different than out own: food, water, warmth, and a place to rest. It’s always a good idea to pack first aid supplies as well.
Before you hit the trail, check the weather and temperature range so that your pup can be as well prepared as you are. Pack extra water if it will be hot, layers if it will be wet or chilly, and plenty of food and treats if you’ll be covering strenuous miles. Know what your trail companion is capable of and ready for, and have a contingency plan if things go awry.
While our dogs regularly achieve amazing physical feats, here’s a good rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t plan to cover 15 miles with a heavy pack and brand new boots without any training for your first backpacking trip, it’s not a good idea to expect your dog to do it.
6. Trust Your Gut
The fact is, you know your dog better than anyone else and are in the best position to make judgments for their well-being. When it comes to medical concerns and wilderness hazards, we recommend talking to your vet. If you’ve got gear questions, contact our team of experts.
7. Have Fun!
Taking your dog camping for the first time is exciting, but it might feel a little daunting! Do your best to prepare ahead of time and have a back-up plan, and be respectful and considerate of other outdoor users. Beyond that, a little patience and sense of humor will help. Not all dogs take to sleeping in a tent (or going in and out of tent doors) right away, but with practice, they will get the hang of it. Part of what makes camping so fun is that things rarely go exactly as planned. Remember that this is part of the adventure, and as long as everyone is safe, you’re making memories together and building your bond — and that’s undeniably fun!
Recommended Gear: A sense of humor and a smile
Ruffwear gear is built from a dog’s perspective and is rigorously field tested to ensure that it will enhance and enable our outdoor adventures with our dogs. Shop our entire camping collection and share your adventures with us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you have any questions, feedback, or ideas, please don’t hesitate to bark.