How to Camp With Your Dog

Camping is one of the best parts about summer. There’s nothing like spending a night under the stars without any light pollution, and waking up to fresh air that smells amazing. Camping with your dog can be an adventure unlike any other, but first you’ll need to figure out all of the camping gear for dogs and make sure it’s safe for them.

Taking your dog camping for the first time is a difficult task. But with some preparation, it should be easier. Camping with your dog can also be a lot of fun and provide you both with memories that will last a lifetime. Read more in detail here: taking your dog camping for the first time.

Black dog sitting in front of canoe in lake.

One of my favorite works was written while John Steinbeck traveled with Charley, his standard poodle. It’s still a terrific book fifty years later, and it wouldn’t be what it is now without Charley.

For a wilderness traveler, the company of a dog may be one of the most enjoyable experiences. They are peaceful, low-maintenance, and simple to satisfy as compared to people. Dogs are unable to grow jaded since everything is fresh to them. Watch your dog during a rest break if you don’t believe me. My dogs must read every piece left behind by an intriguing female in the pet exercise area, which is like a gigantic smelly newspaper.

The secret to a successful vacation, like everything else, is preparation, preparation, and more preparation. When bringing a dog on a wilderness journey, there are many additional concerns to make, and failing in one of them might cause drama. You are responsible for your companion’s health and safety.


Dog wearing backpack. You don’t need a Ph.D. dog, but you should be honest with yourself. Is your dog obedient to you? Is she* attentive and responsive when you issue a command? Gracie, my Black Lab, and I spent a lot of time teaching her to listen to the crucial voice instructions. She doesn’t turn over or pretend dead since they are charming antics that serve no use other than to amuse children. The following are key instructions that need consistent responses:

This is what I use for halt, freeze, and don’t move. It’s important for bird dogs to avoid flushing a bird while they’re on-point, as well as when they spot a squirrel and begin pursuing it across the street. Whoa has the ability to save a life. Come: This one is self-explanatory. Down: Lie down and don’t move until I say it’s all right. Okay, we’re OK. As you had been. Leave it: Drop whatever is in your mouth. Don’t even consider it if you’re smelling a dead crow.

Whatever terms you use, you’ll need a dog who will come to a halt, return, lie down, and deposit the object into her mouth.

Hurry up is a non-essential yet beneficial feature that allows you to urinate and defecate rapidly. At rest stops, this is really useful.

Of course, if you keep your dog on a leash all of the time, you won’t need all of these instructions, but it takes away a lot of the enjoyment for both you and your dog.


An violent dog has no place in the woods, whether it be against people, other dogs, or animals. It makes no difference if it occurred just once. Leave your dog at home if she is violent. There are just too many possibilities for this to go wrong. I’m not going to mention them all.

Temperament and Breed

Dog jumping on man in the canoe.Let’s be honest about it. We’re asking a lot of a dog to do the tasks we’ve set out for her. You’d best have your Leatherman pliers and a day off trail on hand if your dog hasn’t seen a porcupine before and won’t whoa. Most smaller terriers, in my experience, don’t handle things well. Not that yours won’t, but if a Jack Russell spots a porcupine, he’ll probably bark “Bring it on!” and go for the neck. They were raised to do just that, and they excel at it.


The canines I’ve met that perform the best in the woods are typically clever and obedient. Retrievers of all kinds, as well as Chesapeakes, perform very well. Pointers and other sports dogs may perform well, but a lot depends on the temperament of the dog. Winnie (R.I.P.) was a wonderful German Shorthair, but she was also a very laid-back GSP. Some people are more tense than others. A decent short cut does wonders for standard poodles. Other canines and animals will ridicule them if they have a show cut. Our Great Pyrenees puppy Alice hasn’t been proved yet, but she seems to be a burdock magnet, so keep that in mind if you’re bringing a longer-haired dog.

Border Collies have a lot of potential. Dana, one of my friends, has a fantastic BC who listens better than most adolescents. Others would attempt to herd all of the animals within a five-mile radius. Individual disparities, yet again.

Problems with Behavior


Over water, sound travels a long distance. A dog growled nonstop for hours when I was camped on an island in the Boundary Waters. Although it seemed that she was only over the canal, the campground was about a mile distant and within hearing distance of a dozen other campers. Non-dog owners would have shot the dog; I wanted to shoot the owner. The conversation proceeded like this:

Barking dog, barking dog, barking dog, barking dog, barking dog Owner: Quit talking! Barking dog, barking dog, barking dog, barking dog, barking dog

Rep for another three hours.

Leave your dog at home if she barks. If she starts barking, teach her not to. Although I am not a trainer, it is feasible. Yappers (Yorkies, Maltese, Shih Tzus, and other similar breeds) are prone to irritate everyone.


If your dog is a stray, you’ll need to find a means to put her on a leash before bedtime and bring her inside the tent when it’s time to retire. A nice dog may pay a visit to the neighbors, which may be disastrous. Allow your neighbors to come to you. You’ll hope for a gentle reprimand if she snatches a delicious chunk of hard-earned cheese off a rock near the bonfire. You may be subjected to a barrage of expletives.

Capabilities Physical

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a Basset Hound would be a terrible option for trekking across rugged terrain, just as a low-rider doesn’t fare well off-road. Larger canines are better suited for such hikes. Consider gentler routes or boating for smaller dogs.

Dogs, like people, need training. Do not utilize a hiking trip to help your 90-pound Lab lose weight. It’s horrible because your dog won’t tell you she’s out of shape; instead, she’ll suffer in silence.

You’ll both lose weight in a healthy way. For both of you, this is the moment to raise, not reduce, your calorie consumption. Consider adding a bit extra caloric food to your dog’s normal chow if she’s on a low-calorie diet. Slow down: a drastic change in diet causes a lot of stomach discomfort. Gracie is unable to communicate with me via words, therefore she relies on her gas to do so. With only one SBD, she can empty a room.


Dog with backpack hiking on mountains landscape scene.

Backpacking dogs should be able to sustain themselves at least somewhat. In a dog pack, they should be able to carry roughly a week’s supply of kibbles. Don’t expect her to arrive at the trailhead the first time she puts on the pack. Allow a month or two to get her acclimated to it before gradually increasing the weight.

Dog lying down next to fire campsite tent.

Dogs are not natural creatures, and some may need more warmth in the spring and autumn. Gracie can use a tiny fleece blanket, but Alice doesn’t need anything. In fact, she’s a furnace who can keep your tent warm. My friend’s Border Collie manages to get into the foot of his sleeping bag without disturbing him. Smaller dogs may prefer to share, so a bigger bag rather than a mummy is a better option.

Dog with life jacket in kayak on water.

A canoe journey may not demand the same level of aerobic fitness as a lengthy hiking trip, but you may need a dog PFD. Of course, canine personal flotation devices are required for non-swimmers, but even canines that can swim might benefit from some assistance. A buddy has a Staffordshire Terrier (Pit Bull) that loves the water but can’t swim. Dogs, like humans, may get exhausted and drown if their weariness level is not monitored, and most active dogs don’t know they’re tired until they’re extremely fatigued.

In certain regions, I like to provide cleaned water to my dogs. This may seem unnecessarily cautious, and it’s true that most dogs are capable of consuming substances that would send people to the emergency room. But, in certain metropolitan places, germs in the water are something you wouldn’t drink, so why should she be exposed to the same thing? Your dog may get Amoebic Dysentery. Disposal etiquette is a no-no. Just think about it, whether it’s filtration or a chemical treatment.

So that’s all there is to it when it comes to dogs. What about the property’s owner?

Etiquette on the Trail

Clearly, you adore your dog. Because not everyone does, it’s proper etiquette to step off the route and keep your dog under control if you’re trekking. An excessively friendly Lab may knock a traveller off her feet, inflicting humiliation and damage at the very least. So keep your dog under control.

If you’re in a low-use region, a dog that goes back and forth on a path is OK. You’ll encounter a lot of people on various routes, and some of them come to the woods or the lake to get away from society. Some of them are afraid of dogs. Assure them that your dog is well-behaved and non-aggressive. I’d emphasize the bit about being in charge first. “Oh, she’s harmless…” is subjective, and if the other hiker or paddler has previously had a negative encounter with a dog, “friendly” means nothing, but “under control” means everything.


Concerning Poop

You’d be mortified and disgusted if you came across a hiker taking a dumper in the middle of the path and walked away. Dog poo is disgusting to anybody. No one expects you to carry out the feces, but depending on the situation, you should treat it as if it were your own. Dig a little hole and place your dog’s modest present into the dirt if you live in cathole country.

“Does a bear, well, you know…” I can hear some of you saying now. Yes, a bear defecates in the trees. You may take your dog into the woods and create a steamer, but you’ll be introducing a new form of feces to an unfamiliar environment. If a gentleman adopts a dog as a friend, he must cope with the consequences.

White dog on snowy trail taking rest lying down.

First Aid for Dogs

A dog is just as susceptible to injury as you are. Your dog’s ability to evaluate what she can and cannot accomplish isn’t always accurate. Winnie was careful and dependable. Gracie is brave, and she pays the price for it on occasion. Scrambling over boulders may be enjoyable for you, but if you’re not cautious, it might lead to harm. If your dog hesitates, it’s time for you to get up. Dogs are capable of becoming smarter than humans.

The most frequent injuries to a dog’s foot pads are toes and pads. They are not thorn-proof, and even a single thorn may inflict a great deal of discomfort. Dogs’ feet, like ours, have a lot of innervations. It’s not going to go away on its own.

A lot of the first aid for dogs is the same as for humans, whether it’s a thorn or a fishhook. The main distinction is how pain is managed. Human NSAIDS and pain medications are not tolerated by dogs. Rimadyl and Tramodol are two effective pain medications that your veterinarian may give.

Rimadyl is the adult counterpart of Ibuprofen. It may relieve aches and pains, and it’s ideal for your senior dog the morning after a particularly strenuous hike. Tramadol is a synthetic opioid that is more potent than natural opiates, yet it might make your dog sleepy. Rimadyl is a pain reliever that my veterinarian suggests for aches and pains. Tramadol is effective for persistent pain. We placed Alice on Tramadol for a few days after she hurt her shoulder. It allowed her to be a bit more calm, which allowed her to recover more quickly.

Other creatures, both big and little, may also pose a concern. Larger species like bears and moose will stay away from us if we stay away from them, but an inquisitive dog may be killed in seconds by a moose kick, particularly if there are calves. Porcupines may be dangerous, as previously stated. Skunks and raccoons can spread rabies with only a nip, and skunks have additional talents that aren’t worth mentioning. A interested dog’s nose may be scratched by small creatures.


In tick country, ticks may be an issue. Every night, we undertake a tick check, and it may take a little searching, particularly with deer ticks, which are Lyme Disease carriers. Wood ticks are more common. Treat them as though they were humans. It’s simple to embed them if they aren’t already. I toss them onto the fire grate, where they sometimes explode with a pleasant sound.

Consider getting your dog vaccinated against Lyme disease. It’s a contentious topic, but I’ve been doing it for years with no negative consequences. It’s all up to you and your dog.

When it comes to first aid and your dog, the most important thing to remember is that if your dog is wounded while you’re out in the woods, you’ll need to figure out a means to bring her back home. Keep this in mind when you plan your journey, considering the terrain you’ll be traversing and how far you’ll be from civilization, as well as whether or not to take a dangerous detour.


A dog under shelter in a snow.

All of this should not deter you from bringing your canine buddy on a hike in the woods. It only takes a bit more forethought and understanding of your dog’s capabilities. You can wind up becoming closer to your devoted pup as a result of discovering this throughout your pre-trip preparation.

Solo treks with a well-behaved dog have been some of my favorite outdoor adventures. They may be the ideal company at times… They observe, learn, adore, and cuddle with you at night. They’ll fall asleep on your feet while watching the bright embers of a bonfire. There’s nothing better at the end of a hard day than that.

Do you take your dog camping or on other outdoor adventures with you? Please share your suggestions for traversing the wide outdoors with a canine companion!

*I say she instead of he/she because a) I despise the he/she distinction and b) all of my dogs have been bitches. Once the plumbing is gone, they tend to be smarter and need less care, in my experience.



The “camping with small dogs” is a guide that will teach you how to camp with your dog. The article will include information on what gear you should bring, how to set up a tent, and what type of food to pack for the trip.

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