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Camping With Dogs

Updated on May 19, 2016
Boo, our rescued Havanese, loves to play outdoors!
Boo, our rescued Havanese, loves to play outdoors!

Dogs Love Camping!


Most of us who have dogs in our family love to take them with us wherever we go. This is sometimes difficult when going on vacation because few hotels or resorts welcome our fuzzy friends. This is why camping with dogs is fun for you and your dog as well as economical if you plan ahead.

The first decision is often where to camp. We love state parks because they almost always allow dogs and are well-maintained and inexpensive. We've camped with dogs in Petit Jean State Park at the top of a mountain in Arkansas, Washington State Park in Missouri, and Fort DeSoto State Park in Florida and had a wonderful time at all three. Many parks are booked well in advance, so start planning early. For instance, Fort Desoto in Florida starts booking in January for the summer of that year. Most parks allow dogs at all of their campsites, but some have set aside separate sections for pets, so be sure to check that out as well.

Read all the pet rules for the campground you choose and abide by them as they are strictly enforced in most parks. Many do not allow dogs on the beach or have set aside a dog area on the beach.

Campgrounds require that dogs are kept on leash. A harness works better than a neck collar for this, as it is more comfortable for your dog and guards against choking or injury should he tug too hard when a squirrel passes by. An adjustable lead works well because you can set it as long or as short as is practical for your needs.

Make sure your dog is cool and comfortable in hot weather by providing a shady spot or creating a little impromptu shade tent with a few branches with a beach towel laid over them. We sometimes dampen the beach towel for a little extra 'coolth'.

Never leave your dog unattended at your campsite. Even the most even-tempered dog may lung at what they perceive as an intruder. Dogs see the interior of cars, campers and campsites as their turf and feel it is their duty to protect it. Also, there are cruel people in every group, even campers, who may torment or even harm your dog if he is left outside alone. We have left the dogs inside the camper with the windows open for ventilation and the door locked for short periods of time.

Take enough food for your dog, especially if he is on a special diet, as stores in remote rural areas often carry a limited choice of pet food brands and there is enough stress on your pet just from traveling and staying in an unfamiliar area and he may not tolerate a drastic change in diet. Also, pesky varmints like squirrels, raccoons and even bears love dog food, so invest in a durable storage container. The Pet Zone sells a heavy plastic pet food storage/bowl combo that has stood up against the most persistent raccoons, according to our camping neighbors who were entertained by their antics trying to break into it. The food is stored under the bowls and the bowls screw in securely, keeping the food safe and dry. This unit has two bowls, one for food and one for water - but we use both for food for our two dogs. Also keep your dog's treats in this secure container to keep them fresh and safe.

Make certain your dog has plenty of fresh water. Place the water dish near the end of the dog's lead as this will keep him from accidentally knocking the water dish over. Check the water dish several times a day to make sure it is filled with clean water.

Keep all of your dog's toys, extra collars, leashes, dietary supplements and medications in on container in an easy-to-reach

container. We use an old metal breadbox, but you can find metal tins that once contained popcorn or other goodies at thrift shops such as the Goodwill. These are great because they are fairly air tight, waterproof and resistant to curious raccoons.


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