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Home » All About Dogs » Adventure Dog » Answers to Common Questions about Taking Dogs Camping

Answers to Common Questions about Taking Dogs Camping

If you’re thinking about taking your dogs camping on your latest outdoor adventure, you probably have a ton of questions about what gear to bring, where your dog sleeps, and what to do with their poop and so much more. Adding your four-legged friend to the party certainly requires a bit more planning, additional gear, and adjustment for you both.

It’s absolutely a good idea to take your dog along on camping trips. They make wonderful outdoor companions and your bond will grow with each trip.

We see a ton of questions about camping with dogs and hope that our tips for camping below will help better prepare you for your next adventure with your pup.

If it’s your first time taking dogs camping, this post will likely answer more questions and help you understand how to prepare your pup for their first overnight under the stars.

One of the most common questions about taking dogs camping is about where they sleep. Ours sleep with us, as you can see!

Your Questions about Taking Dogs Camping Answered

Where Does the Dog Sleep?

Our dogs sleep in the tent with us, but it’s totally up to you and where your dog prefers to sleep. Some dogs are more comfortable sleeping outside on a blanket, while others may prefer to have their own tent or sleep in the car for a secure, quiet space. The idea of a personal dog friendly tent for dogs may seem ridiculous, but they do exist!

In our set up, each dog has their own dog bed or sleeping bag, set up at our feet or in between us in the tent. This gives each one a place to go when they want to chill and keeps them from commandeering our beds.

A few of our favorite beds include:

Whyld River DoggyBag

I love, love, love this bag. LOVE. Not only does it come in my favorite shade of blue and therefore match all of my other camping gear, it’s just simply well-designed. Company founder, Rachel Bauman designed the bed after a scary incident with her dog, River.

On a backpacking trip on Mt. Hood, the chilly night temperatures left River shaking with cold all night, so she set out to make the best backpacking dog specific bed ever.

The DoggyBag is really two bags in one. The top and bottom layers snap together to form a cozy sleeping bag or come apart if you just want a thinner layer or if you have two dogs. It fits easily into a stuff sack that is about the size of a small sleeping bag.

Best for: backpacking and car camping.

Use code longhaultrekkers for 10% off your purchase on Booking.com.

Ruffwear Mt. Bachelor Pad

Despite its thinner profile, the Mt. Bachelor Pad keeps dogs warm with the microsuede material and waterproof bottom layer. The bed is super durable and the material repels fur, dirt, and mud. It folds in half and rolls up into a compact size, though it’s a bit heavy to bring for a backpacking trip.

Best for: car camping.

Ruffwear Highlands Bed

This lightweight dog bed means that most dogs can easily carry their own bed during a backpacking trip. Just strap it across their back and latch it to their dog pack. It hardly weighs a thing, so it won’t add much to their load. It rolls up easily into its stuff sack and a simple shake out removes any fur and debris.

Best for: backpacking.

Kurgo Wander Loft Bed

This is one of our favorite travel dog beds. It’s super plush, has a waterproof bottom, and rolls up easily into a travel-friendly size. The handle makes it easy to carry to and from the car and it shakes out easily to remove dog hair and other debris.

You can check out our honest review to learn more about the bed and see why we love it so much.

Best for: car camping.

A durable sleeping pad and trimmed nails will help prevent punctures when you take your dog camping.

How Do I Prevent My Dog from Puncturing My Sleeping Pad?

A frequent question I see asked is keeping your dog from puncturing your sleeping pad. We have never had this happen, likely for a few reasons. First, we keep our dogs’ nails trimmed regularly.

Second, we try not to allow them on top of our sleeping pads without the sleeping bag on top. This provides a barrier between their claws and the sleeping pad. Lastly, and most importantly, we never invite them to play inside the tent. The biggest threat to sleeping pads are sharp teeth.

That said, since Laila is still a puppy we do keep a stuffy toy with us at all times. This way, if she starts to get mouthy, we can offer her something she is allowed to bite if she becomes playful. If you know that your dog gets excited first thing in the morning, then bring a toy inside, just in case.

Our go-to sleeping pad is the Therm-a-Rest Pro Trail. It’s slightly heavier, but the extra few ounces are worth it to us for a durable pad. We’ve used ours probably 100 or more times and have never had an issue. They’re still going strong and are super comfortable and warm.

If you'll be taking your dog camping, depending on the size of your dog, it's probably best to count them as a person when purchasing a tent.

What Size Tent Should I Use When I Camp with My Dog?

Depending on the size of your furry friend, we suggest including your them as a person when you go to pick out your tent. Dogs under 15 lbs can probably be excluded from this rule if they are ok in tight spaces.

It’s likely not necessary to think of multiple or one giant dog as multiple people if you have more than one. As an example, we consider Riia and Laila one unit in terms of space and we still have plenty of extra room.

For help picking the right tent for you and your pup, see How to Pick the Best Tent for Camping with Dogs with our recommendations for long-lasting outdoor shelters.

Will My Dog Get Cold at Night?

Possibly. Dogs with shorter fur or single coats are more likely to feel cold. Those with thick fur or double coats probably won’t, unless temperatures are pretty extreme. Think about how your dog does in cold weather when you’re hiking or just out for a walk.

Below are a few suggestions we love for high-quality jackets and sweaters for adventure dogs:

When you camp with your dog can you leave them alone in the tent? That depends on your dog.

Can I Leave My Dog Alone In The Tent?

This really depends on your dog. We would leave Sora in the tent for a short period of time on occasion if we were nearby. For example, we stayed at the Belknap Hot Sprigs during our Oregon Rode Trip and left Sora in the tent when we went to the thermal pools.

It was more a matter of inconvenience as dogs were allowed on the grounds, but not near the pool. We had nowhere else to put her.

At this point of time, we would never leave Laila alone in the tent for fear that she would cause a bit of destruction. If your dog is chill on their own in abnormal situations, then they should be fine for a short period of time.

Test it by leaving them alone for a few minutes in your sight and see how they do. Always make sure your dog has an ID tag and access to a water bowl, just in case.

Pack your dog's food in a reusable, sealable, waterproof container like a dry bag for easy storage.

How do I pack my dog’s food for camping?

For car camping, just measure out the exact amount, plus one extra day in case of emergency to a kibble carrier, like this one Kurgo makes. We brought this along on our cycle tour and it served us very well. It’s basically a dry sack for dog food.

Could you use a Ziplock bag? Sure, but we love that this one is reusable and machine washable when the oils from the kibble start to seep through.

We bring along our favorite collapsible bowls from Dexas that are lightweight and pack down into a small size. If we’re backpacking, then we just bring one and use it for both food and water.

If you’re backpacking and need to divide the food into smaller bags, I use these 1l dry bags from Sea to Summit.

For more tips on packing your dog’s food for camping, see this post.

How do I carry out their poop?

I’ve written extensively about this very topic in How to Dispose of Dog Poop on the Trail. The short version is, always pick up your dog’s poop, with poop bags and definitely if you’re in a national park.

If you’re car camping or at a pet friendly campsite, it’s easy to just toss it in the campground bin or collect with your own trash. Backpacking makes things a little trickier, but there are a few options for disposal:

  • Bring a shovel and dig a hole to bury your dog’s poop.
  • Have your dog carry it in their backpack.
  • Carry it yourself in something odor-proof like a Turdlebag or a Nalgene bottle.
Taking dogs camping can mean you have to juggle many things at once. A hands free leash with a clip makes it easy to contain your dog at camp.

How Do I Keep My Dog Contained at Camp?

Sometimes, you need two hands to set up your tent, make dinner, or pack. There are a couple options for keeping your dog contained while your hands stay free. You could get a hands-free leash, like our favorite from Ruffwear, the Flat Out Dog Leash, which you can attach around your waist to keep your hands free.

Alternatively, use a set up like the Ruffwear Knot-a-Hitch, which just requires two trees or a post. The tether system keep your dog on a secure line that lets them roam without straying too far.

What if My Dog Barks at Night?

If you know that your dog has a tendency to bark at strange sounds, then you will want to do some practice sessions in your backyard or during the off season when there are fewer people camping. Nobody wants to hear a dog barking all night long.

If sounds are the issue, download a white noise app like Sleepio and bring a battery pack to keep your phone charged while you play it overnight. We use an Anker pack that has held strong for four years now and kept us charged during our bicycle tour.

Another suggestion is getting a tent with less mesh. If your dog is like Laila, she barks when she sees other dogs or animals, if there is nothing for her to see, then there is no reason to bark.

What other questions do you have about taking dogs camping?

What suggestions would you add for those new to camping with their dogs?

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Taking Your Dog Camping Pinterest Image

FAQ – Camping with Dogs

Where Does the Dog Sleep When Camping?

Most of the time dogs sleep in the tent with you. Though, some dogs are more comfortable sleeping outside on a blanket, while others may prefer to have their own tent or sleep in the car for a secure, quiet space. 

How Do I Prevent My Dog from Puncturing My Sleeping Pad?

Keep your dogs’ nails trimmed regularly. Try not to let them on top of your sleeping pad without the sleeping bag on top. Don’t let your dog play on your bed. If they get excited, take them outside to play with a toy.

What Size Tent Should I Use When I Camp with My Dog?

Depending on the size of your dog, include your dog as a person when you go to pick out your tent. So 2 people and 1 dog, would use a 3 person tent.

Will My Dog Get Cold at Night When Camping?

Possibly depending on the temperatures. Dogs with shorter fur or single coats are more likely to feel cold. Those with thick fur or double coats probably won’t, unless temperatures are pretty extreme. Give them their own sleeping bag or blanket if they get cold.

Can I Leave My Dog Alone In The Tent When Camping?

This really depends on your dog.  Well behaved dogs in cooler temperatures are just fine in a tent solo. Puppies or dogs that are easily stimulated can easily tear a hole in a tent.

How do I pack my dog’s food for camping?

For car camping, just measure out the exact amount, plus one extra day in case of emergency to a kibble carrier.

What do I do with Dog Poop When Camping?

Always pick up your dog’s poop! If you’re car camping, it’s easy to just toss it in the campground bin or collect with your own trash.

How Do I Keep My Dog Contained at Camp?

You can use a hands-free leash or secure line to connect your dog’s collar to stable structure like a tree. Sometimes it’s best to keep the high energy dogs attached to the owner.

What if My Dog Barks at Night When Camping?

Nobody wants to hear a dog barking all night long, but it happens. Do some practice sessions in your backyard or during the off season when there are fewer people camping to teach your dog how to behave when camping.

Jen Sotolongo

Hello! I'm Jen. I'm a writer, photographer, dog mom, and outdoor enthusiast. When I'm not writing about awesome ways to get outside with your dog, I'm probably out for a long trail run. I also fancy myself a pretty decent vegan cook, and am always happy to whip up a batch of cookies for friends. My husband and I travel the world with our dogs, most famously taking on a 2-year bicycle trip across Europe and South America. I currently live in Spain with my husband and our two dogs, but the Pacific Northwest will always be my love.

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