May 05, 2021 7 min read

Camping with Dogs Your Complete Checklist

Heading off for a weekend in the woods? Whether you’re hiking alone or with friends to a nearby campground, you should consider bringing your dog along. 

Camping with dogs is a lot of fun. You can get outside with your dog and share the adventure of the great outdoors with them. Relax by a campfire, roast some marshmallows with friends, give your dog some natural antlers to chew on, and eventually fall asleep together to the sound of the forest around you. What’s not to love?

STOCK UP ON ANTLERS FOR DOGS

But how do you keep your dog safe while heading out for a weekend of camping? From packing bully sticks to bringing them a set of bedding, here’s your essential checklist to keep them safe and comfortable. 

DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFOREHAND

First things first: You need to research wherever it is you intend to go. You need to make sure that your dog will be safe and welcome while you’re out in nature. 

MAKE SURE IT’S PET-FRIENDLY 

You need to make sure that your dog is actually welcome on the trail and at your campgrounds. Otherwise, you run the risk of either getting kicked out or being fined for bringing your dog where they don’t belong. 

Some trails and campgrounds will state that dogs are not allowed for the safety of local nature and wildlife. Others may allow dogs but will restrict other breeds — Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, Mastiffs, etc. 

before you go

MAKE SURE YOUR DOG IS HEALTHY

Before you head off into the woods, check in with your dog’s vet to make sure they’re in good health. It might sound unnecessary, but it could save your dog’s life. 

You never know what you’ll run into while out on the trail or at the campground, and you want to make sure that:

  1. Your dog is in good enough physical shape to undergo prolonged strenuous activity.
  2. Your dog is up-to-date on all of their vaccinations to prevent diseases. 

If you have a puppy, they should not be taken camping with you. Reason being is that puppies shouldnot undergo prolonged exercise and it’s likely that they have not gotten all of their vaccinations yet. 

DOG ESSENTIALS FOR THE WOODS AND TRAIL 

So what do you need to keep your dog safe and comfortable while camping? Be sure to bring along the following. 

CLEAN WATER

Your dog will need food to stop them from barking at you and trying to steal your own food, but it’s especially important to get them safe water. While some dog owners are fine with allowing their dog to freely drink from any nearby pond, lake, or stream, we recommend avoiding it. These water systems often have bacteria living in them that can be harmful to your dog’s health, leading to illnesses like giardiasis or leptospirosis

Make sure to bring along a portable water filter. You and your dog can share clean water, free of worry. 

And don’t forget to bring a dog bowl along. You might feel compelled to let them slurp right from your water bottle, but it’s safer to give them a bowl of their own. 

HEALTHY DOG CHEWS

HEALTHY DOG CHEWS

One thing you can’t forget is the dog chews — your dog might not forgive you if you do. You might feel compelled to feed your dog a burnt hot dog you don’t want, but don’t feed them your table scraps. Reach instead for our natural bully sticks, ears, or collagen sticks.

SHOP BULLY STICKS

Whether you give them antlers or collagen sticks, your dog will have a healthy, long-lasting treat they can chew on beside the fire. With enough protein to recharge your dog after a hike and enough taste to quell their hunger, your dog is sure to be a happy camper. 

FIRST-AID KIT 

You wouldn’t leave the first-aid kit behind for yourself, so don’t leave it behind for your dog, either. Various injuries can crop up, whether taking on the trail or sniffing around the campground, from a thorn in the paw to having a run-in with a wild animal. 

Bring along enough items to take care of whatever malady they’re struck with, including: 

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Bandages
  • Cotton wraps and tape
  • Tweezers
  • Bug repellent 
  • Treatments for exposure to poison ivy 

A COMFORTABLE DOGGIE BACKPACK

You can stuff all of your dog’s extra gear into your own hiking pack, but why should you be loading out everything? There are some fantastic dog backpacks for hiking available on the market which can be used to carry all of their essential gear, from healthy chews to comfortable sleeping gear. 

Your dogs ID should include

WEAR A COLLAR 

It’s imperative that your dog wears a proper ID while out in the woods. Pet IDs are essential for one reason only: in the event your animal runs off. 

We understand you don’t want to think about it — none of us want to imagine losing our canine friends. Your dog’s ID should include the basics to keep them safe and get them back to you, including: 

  • Their name
  • Your name
  • Your phone number
  • Medications your dog takes 
  • Any weird quirks they have

Now, why the weird quirks? You want to make sure that a stranger knows of your dog’s habits so as to avoid upsetting them. This is just one way to guarantee your dog remains safe with whoever finds them. 

In addition, it’s recommended that you get your dog microchipped, too. Microchipping is a safe way to keep your dog’s information on them even if they lose their tag while out in the woods. 

A SUITABLE LEASH AND COLLAR 

A long leash is great at letting your dog explore, but it’s important to maintain some control. We recommend having a leash that can change in length and allows you to set a fixed length. The leash should also be durable and water-resistant, ensuring that you can maintain control of your dog without worry of the leash either slipping or breaking. 

There are better options compared to traditional choices, though. We recommend getting both a hands-free leash and a dog body harness. The hands-free leash is comfortable for you, allowing you to still use your hands while keeping your dog at bay by connecting them to your waist. Moreover, the body harness is more comfortable on the dog, better at stopping them from pulling while preventing choking caused by old-school collars. 

A SUITABLE COAT 

You never know when a sudden chill or a torrential downpour will pass by your campground. Don’t leave your dog without coverage. A proper coat can keep them protected, no matter the weather. 

If you’re doing some significant hiking, it’s especially important to bring along a wind jacket, especially if you know there will be any ridges of altitude where you’ll catch a stiff wind. A puffy jacket will help keep your dog warm at night, too, letting them sleep comfortably whether they’re in your sleeping bag with you or falling asleep under a little blanket. 

dog on leash with treats

PUT A BELL ON THEIR COLLAR

It’s likely you don’t require your dog to wear a bell around the house — one, because you know where they are, and two, who wants to hear that all day? But it could be essential when out in the woods. 

The most common form are bear bells, as it’s believed that the sound will ward off nearby bears. Whether it works for them or not, it can be equally helpful to other wild animals in the area. They’ll knowsomething is approaching and, due to it being a non-natural sound, will be bound to avoid it. 

They can also be helpful to fellow hikers and their own pets, too. They can react, knowing that something and someone is approaching, versus being surprised by you out of nowhere. 

BRING A FIRM MAT, EXTRA SLEEPING BAG, AND/OR MINI TENT

Make sure to bring something along for your dog to sleep comfortably. While your dog might be able to sleep nearly anywhere, you’ve seen how well they sleep on their dog bed, the couch, or your own bed. Bring along a firm mat or a little sleeping bag for them to sleep in. 

BRING ALONG A MOSQUITO REPELLENT 

We all hate getting bit by mosquitoes while we’re outside. They sting, they itch, and, for some of us, they grow to the size of a quarter. 

Don’t let your dog get eaten alive while you and your friends relax by the fire. We recommend bringing a pet-friendly mosquito repellent along. You can protect your dog from gnawing insects, letting them enjoy the night out camping in peace. 

PACK SOME WASTE BAGS 

One of the most important things to bring along is some waste bags — poop bags. You wouldn’t leave your dog’s feces out on the open sidewalk, and you shouldn’t do the same to fellow hikers and their own dogs. 

More importantly, their waste can also be dangerous to local nature.  If your dog poops in the woods, their waste carries pathogens which can be harmful to local plants, animals, and waterways. 

happy dog with treat

CAMPING AND HIKING TIPS TO REMEMBER 

Got the above list checked off? Great! Before you head out for the weekend, make sure to also abide by the following trail recommendations.

MANAGE YOUR DOG WHEN OTHERS ARE AROUND 

The worst trail etiquette is the kind that is not considerate of others out on the trail. So how do you properly allow your dog to enjoy the trail while keeping bystanders safe and uninterrupted?

We recommend keeping your dog on a leash at all times. A hands-free leash will allow you to keep your dog at a specific length without adding any extra burden. 

Also, any time you hear or see another hiker coming by, call your dog towards you and wait on the side of the trail. Just as you’d give the right of way to a runner or mountain biker, it’s smart to give the trail up to others for your safety and theirs. 

KEEP YOUR DOG ON THE TRAIL

Another trail etiquette tip for dogs and their hikers is to not let your dog wander off trail. The particular reason is that your dog will be a disturbance to the natural order of things, whether it’s disturbing local plants or scaring off or attacking wild animals.

ENJOY THE WOODS WITH YOUR DOG 

Camping with your dog is an incredible experience, so long as you do it with your dog’s safety and comfort in mind. Whether it’s packing bully sticks and antlers for them to chew on throughout the day or bringing along a water purifier to provide them with clean water, you can camp while caring for your canine companion.


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