23 tips for going camping with a puppy

by | Mar 22, 2023 | Trip planning

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So you have a new puppy, and you’re planning to go camping.

What could go wrong?

A puppy outside.

It’s hard enough dealing with a puppy at home, but at a campsite, you’ll have to be even more prepared and attentive to your pup.

Puppies are generally known for being absolutely adorable, but:

  • They’re usually not 100% housebroken
  • They’re not even close to being fully trained
  • They’re hyper and often very curious
  • They’re prone to jumping, pulling, digging, chewing, barking, and whining
  • They can be scared of unfamiliar sounds, people, other dogs, and scenery

Not all camping trips are ideal for dogs, let alone puppies

A puppy inside a tent.

Camping trips that involve high heat or extreme cold, a lot of travel on rough terrain, treacherous environments (such as cliffs or fast moving water), and potentially dangerous wildlife encounters are not for dogs.

Depending on the type of camping trip you’re planning and level of adventure you’re looking for, you need to consider your puppy’s needs and limits before deciding to bring them along.

Car camping or RVing is much more appropriate for puppies and dogs in general because they’re much more casual than a backcountry trip.

But even so, if you plan on doing a lot of activities away from your campsite during the day, or the weather is expected to bey scorching hot, then these are scenarios where it would be best to leave your puppy with someone who can take good care of them while you’re away.

It might be a good idea to bring your puppy camping if…

  • The weather isn’t going to be too hot or too cold
  • You’re confident you’ll be able to keep a close eye on them at all times
  • You have enough space in your tent for your puppy to sleep
  • You’re willing to bring all of the appropriate supplies for your pup, such as a leash and collar, food and water bowls, bedding, toys, etc.
  • They aren’t terribly skittish, anxious, or afraid of new environments
  • They’re making good potty training progress
  • They’re making good progress with basic training commands such as sit, stay, etc.
  • You’ve already begun the process of socializing them to other people and other dogs
  • You can accept and be prepared for the possibility of them having an accident in your tent
  • You’ll be able to set aside time every day for play and exercise

It might not be a good idea to bring your puppy camping if…

  • You plan on camping in very high heat and humidity
  • The nights are expected to get quite cold
  • It’s the middle of bug season
  • You have a small tent with no space for a dog bed or crate
  • There’s a very high chance they could have an accident inside the tent
  • There may be sights, sounds, and smells that could trigger fear and anxiety
  • There may be sights, sounds, and smells that could be overstimulating
  • You’ll be too busy with camp chores and activities during the day to spend time with them
  • There are poisonous plants in the area you’re planning to camp in
  • There’s a potential for dangerous wildlife encounters with coyotes, wolves, bears, etc.

Puppies and dogs in general are different depending on their breed and their individual personalities, so it’s important to consider all of these factors when deciding whether or not to take your puppy camping with you.

If you do decide to take your puppy camping with you, here are some tips for you to make it safe and enjoyable for everyone.

Plan your trip during a comfortable stretch of weather

A person checking the weather forecast on their smartphone.

Temperatures that are too hot or too cold can be a huge discomfort for your puppy because puppies aren’t able to regulate their body temperatures as adult dogs.

If a heatwave is forecasted, it may be best to reschedule or trip or arrange puppy-sitting.

Make sure to check the nighttime lows, too.

Avoid bringing your puppy camping if the nighttime temperatures are expected to drop below the 60s, and be sure to bring lots of extra blankets.

Make sure your pup has current ID tags

A red dog collar with tags.

You never know what can happen with a puppy thanks to their insatiable curiosity.

In case they happen to wander off to another campsite, their collar ID tags should have your contact details.

Pack all the necessary first aid items in case of an emergency

first aid kit and hiking boots

No one ever plans on getting injured while camping (or having their pup get injured), but it’s always good to be prepared just in case.

Make sure you have all the necessary first-aid items such as dog-friendly bandages, antiseptic cream, and medication in your camping kit.

It’s also a good idea to have some basic knowledge on how to deal with minor injuries or ailments should they arise while you’re spending time outdoors.

Pick a campsite that provides space from you and other campers

A campsite with a tent, picnic table, and fire pit.

Sorry, but crowded campgrounds are no place for a small pup.

There are too many sights, sounds, and smells to overstimulate or scare them.

You may have trouble controlling their bad behaviour, or they may become stressed.

If possible, book your campsite at a time of year that isn’t peak season, and look for campsites that are well spaced from one another.

Pick a campsite with lots of shade

Camping tent in the shaded trees.

Shade is essential for a pup during hot days to help keep them cool.

Look for campsites with lots of tree cover and bring a tarp just in case you need to set up a shelter for extra shade.

Check the campsite for poisonous plants before settling on it

Poison ivy

The last thing you want is for your pup to wander into the bushes and irritate his or her skin, or eat something that could make him/her sick.

Take the time to research what kind of plants are growing in the area and make sure they aren’t toxic.

As an extra precautions, avoid allowing your puppy to leave the main campsite area.

Make sure your tent is big enough to fit your pup’s bed or crate

A dog sleeping in a tent.

Depending on what your puppy sleeps in at home, you may need to check that your existing tent has enough room to fit their bed or crate.

Ideally, you want to bring what they’re already used to sleeping in so that it feels familiar to them.

Whatever you do, you don’t want to leave your pup to sleep outside on their own—even if they have a crate.

They could still end up getting hurt if a wild animal happens to venture over to them.

Open the vents and panels on your tent at night to allow for airflow

Tent vents open for airflow.

The more bodies you have in a tent, the greater the risk of moisture developing on the walls.

Opening your tent’s vents and panels helps to reduce the amount of condensation in your tent and keep it more comfortable for everyone.

Don’t leave your puppy inside your tent for an extended period of time

A dog inside a tent.

If you’re planning to step away from your campsite for a bit, don’t even think about zipping up the tent with your puppy inside until you get back.

The heat can build up inside a tent quickly, and your pup could potentially suffer from dehydration or heatstroke.

Pick a tree for your puppy to be tied to when you can’t watch them

A puppy tied to a tree.

Camping is a lot of work, and even if you have multiple fellow campers who can help watch and take care of the pup, it’s best to keep them leashed up by default.

Pick a sturdy tree or other strong object (like a stump or picnic table) that’s far enough away from the tent, the camp kitchen, the fire pit, and the bushes.

Tie the leash securely around it and regularly check on your pup to make sure they’re doing okay.

Don’t allow your puppy to roam off leash around the campsite

A puppy sniffing around a gravel campsite.

Unless you’re holding, training, or playing with your puppy, they should be tied up at all times.

Even if you allow them to run off leash for five seconds, chances are they could end up lost in the bush or at someone else’s campsite.

This puts them at risk of encountering wildlife and other dogs too.

Keep gear and clothing far away from your puppy’s chompers

Backpacks and camping gear at a campsite.

Your pup will naturally be curious about their new surroundings, and if they come into contact with your camping gear, they can think of it as chew toys.

That includes the stakes and guylines of your tent and/or tarp.

Making sure all your gear is out of reach of your pup can save you from having to purchase unnecessary replacements.

Avoid leaving food lying around

A cooler filled with food.

Food (especially human food) should always be kept away from your pup when you’re out camping.

Not only can it lead to overeating and bloat, but certain foods (like chocolate or grapes) can be fatal for dogs if ingested.

Keep food secured properly in your pack, cooler, or car at all times to prevent any accidental consumption.

Bring chew toys for your puppy to keep them occupied

A puppy with lots of chew toys.

This is especially important if your pup has a lot of energy or tends to chew things.

Bring along plenty of chew toys to help keep them occupied while you’re busy setting up camp, cooking dinner, or cleaning up.

It will also help keep them quiet if they tend to bark or wine a lot.

Check your puppy’s water bowl regularly and replenish it when needed

A puppy drinking from a water bowl.

It’s important to keep your pup hydrated, especially during summer months.

Make sure you’re checking their water bowl every hour or so and refilling it with clean water so they can drink up when they feel the need to.

Always use a leash when walking your pup around the campground and trails

A puppy being walked on a leash.

Even if the trail seems deserted, you never know when another hiker or someone else’s pup might come around the corner.

Using a leash will help keep your pup from getting into any sticky situations and prevent them from running off too far away from you.

Keep close watch on your puppy around the campfire

A campfire at a waterfront campsite at night.

If you decide to bring your pup along to snuggle with as you sit by the campfire, be sure to keep a tight hold on them and don’t let go.

If you need to do something, hand your pup off to someone else or tie them to their tree, which should be far enough away from the fire pit that they can’t reach it at full leash extension.

Do regular poop checks and clean up after your pup immediately

A person holding a bag of dog poop.

Your puppy may decide to do their business anywhere at all on the campsite, which should be expected as they’ll be outside.

Every few hours or so, do a walk around your campsite to check for any “evidence” and make sure to clean it up immediately.

Doing so will prevent attracting wildlife and help everyone keep their camp shoes clean.

Be sure to pack it out with your garbage or dispose of it at a designated area.

Keep up with your puppy training exercises

A puppy playing fetch.

Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you should stop training your pup.

Bringing along their favorite chew toys and treats can help keep them occupied while you practice basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, and heel.

Training with consistency will help them learn faster and become better behaved in the long run.

Reward your puppy with treats and affection for good behaviour

A puppy receiving a treat.

Positive reinforcement goes a long way in any learning process, and your pup is no different.

If they behave well at camp or listen to a command you give them, reward them with a treat and lots of love.

This will help build their confidence and strengthen the bond between you two.

Stay aware of any changes in your pup’s behaviour

A puppy looking scared.

Strange behavior such as trembling, howling, growling, hiding, or limping can all be signs of stress, anxiety, or even an injury.

If you notice any changes in your pup’s behavior while camping, it could mean they’re not enjoying the environment as much as they should.

Take the time to observe them and if needed take a break or head home early to make sure they’re okay.

Check your puppy’s fur at least once a day for ticks

A tick in dog fur.

Even if you never let your puppy wander off into the bush, it’s still a good idea to do a daily check of their fur for ticks.

If you find any, remove them safely with a pair of tweezers and keep an eye out for any signs of infection or irritation.

Give them lots of love and have fun!

A puppy playing with a rope toy.

Most of all, remember to enjoy your time in the outdoors with your pup.

Take lots of photos and videos so you can look back on the wonderful memories you made together.

And don’t forget to give them plenty of love and cuddles throughout your camping trip!

Happy adventuring!

Next up: How to keep your dog warm while camping

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About Us

Elise & Ross

We’re Elise and Ross, avid backcountry campers and outdoor adventurers! We started Gone Camping Again as a way to share our knowledge and experience about wilderness living and travel. Our hope is that we inspire you to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer!

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