Camping with your Dog for the First Time (Checklist)

Taking your dog camping can be lots of fun. However, if you haven’t taken your dog camping before, there is some preparation you must do to ensure a safe and fun trip. We have some great packing tips and outdoor safety advice for those of you interested in camping with your dog for the first time!  

Camping with your Dog for the First Time (Checklist) 

#1 Is your dog a good candidate for camping? 

You must consider if your dog is ready to camp and if he will actually enjoy it. When judging if your dog is a good candidate for camping, take the following factors into consideration: 1) how easily stressed/scared is your dog, 2) does your dog have a high prey drive, 3) does your dog have medical problems, 4) is your dog aggressive, and 5) is your dog a barker? If any of these are an issue with your dog, he may not do well camping. Remember, being in the outdoors and wilderness is highly stimulating. New scents, sounds, and sights can scare your dog. Or, if your dog has a high prey drive, he may run off to chase a small animal and may get lost. Also, you want to make sure your dog is physically fit and capable to go camping. Additionally, if your dog is aggressive or a very vocal barker, a campsite may not be the place for him. Remember, other people will be camping too. Be respectful.

#2 How well trained is your dog?

Does your dog listen to your commands? To keep your dog safe in the outdoors, she should know commands like come, down, stay, and leave/drop it. She must be able to respond properly when you want her to come back, stay, or drop an item. If your dog hasn’t mastered these basic commands, camping may not be the best situation for your dog.

#3 Getting your Dog Ready to Camp

If you think your dog will do well camping, then there are many things you need to do prior to your camping trip. First of all, make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations. You may also want to consider getting your dog micro-chipped in case she runs away. Additionally, you will want to get flea and tick repellent and prepare a dog first aid kit. For more information on dog first aid kits, please read our blog post: Make Your Own Dog First Aid Kit. Furthermore, if you haven’t really exposed your dog to the outdoors, take your dog on a few short hiking trips. This will get your dog used to the trail and being in the wildereness.

#4 Picking a Campsite

It is very important to know that not all campsites allow dogs. Do your research! Also, read up on the rules for the campsite. Some campsites and trails require dogs to be leashed the whole time.

#5 Packing List

  • Fitted collar
  • ID tags
  • Harness
  • 6-foot Leash for walking and hiking
  • 20-foot cable for being tied out
  • Food and water
  • Food and water bowls
  • Crate (if dog is crate-trained)
  • Bed pad/pillow
  • Tick and flea repellent
  • Brush
  • Jacket (if cold out and dog has shorter coat)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Poop bags
  • A few toys
  • Vaccination records
  • Life jacket (if near water)

#6 At the Campsite

  • It is important to supervise your dog at all times. Most campsites require you to restrain your dog. This will keep your dog safe and stop him from chasing after wildlife.
  • You must keep your dog hydrated. Don’t let him drink from puddles and other still standing water. This can make your dog seriously ill.
  • Keep your dog’s collar on him at all times. Make sure the ID tags are secured to the collar.
  • Check your dog for cuts (especially his paws). Look through his coat for ticks and other insects.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. There will be campfires, other people, and wild animals. Keep your dog out of trouble.

Need some camping supplies?

Check out these items below. They’ll come in handy when you take your dog camping.


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