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How to Prepare for Your First Camping Trip with Your Dog

How to Prepare for Your First Camping Trip with Your Dog

Louise and I are huge fans of camping. The fresh air, the sounds of the birds in the morning, grilled pancakes, ‘sausage’ subs. It’s just the best. We have spent many nights in our tent up in the Adirondacks, the Green Mountains, or our most frequented camping zone, the White Mountains. When we go camping, it isn’t always with Manzo and Piper, but when it is, it is so much fun! They love a lot of the same things about it that we do. All the swimming, the new and fresh smells every morning, new woods to explore, the undivided attention from their people. It’s just the best.

As you probably know by now, Louise and I are big planners and preppers. We usually have a plan A through C and you should see the preparation lists Louise makes! I get overwhelmed when I look at them sometimes! All this planning and preparation leads to less stress, safer trips, and knowing that we have what we need when we get there. Our years of camping, planning, and prepping have given us the knowledge and experience to help you to be ready and confident. Here is our guide to preparing for your first camping trip with your dog. 

being prepared for camping with your dog with a tie out and a tent

First things first. Getting your gear and introducing it to your dog. If you are heading out to buy your gear, do so with your dog in mind. Be sure there is enough space to accommodate your dog comfortably. Make sure their claws aren’t going to be able to rip through the fabric of your tent or your air mattress! Louise and I are backpackers so we like to go light and tough. The Thermarest Z-lite fits our needs and stands up to their nails! If you want more comfort the Intex Dura-Beam is one to check out. There are also great options to keep your dog more comfortable. The Ruffwear Highlands dog pad for example will help them rest their bones after a day of camping activities while not taking up too much space or weighing too much.

Introducing your dog to this gear ahead of time is super important! It might sound silly but we have heard stories more than once about people driving out to their campground and getting camp ready only to find out that their dog is terrified of the tent! Help them get comfortable before your trip by setting the tent up at home and spending some time building positive associations with it by having them eat their meals in there or get special treats while you all hang out, It may take a little time but it’s far better than realizing you’re going to have to improvise once you’re already out there!

Dog camping sitting in a camp chair

Sleeping quarters aren’t the only thing to consider. Tie-outs like the Ruffwear Knot-A-Hitch can give you and your dog freedom while keeping your dog safe. If you have a sensitive dog that needs a visual barrier, consider getting an Exercise pen that you can place in front of your site and cover with blankets, towels, or a tarp so they can’t see what’s passing by. A strategic parking job can also help a lot with this. When you are hanging out around the fire, a raised dog bed like the Coolaroo raised bed will help keep your dog warm and clean up off the ground. And one thing that we learned quickly; you can NEVER have too many dog towels! 

A first aid kit for your dog is always a great thing to have when you are adventuring with your pup. Check out our guide to preparing a first aid kit here. 

Some other small things to consider picking up are strong sealable containers for your dog’s food, lick mats or Toppls and peanut butter for downtime, a portable water bowl, or a dog-specific water bottle like this one we use, and nice blankets to stay warm and cozy. 

It’s always a good idea to check out your campground beforehand if possible. Sometimes it is hard to get a feel for a campground by their website alone. For example, we took Piper camping in Vermont, only to realize that this campground catered to horses and their humans! Piper was quite interested but since we had prepared and planned, she did awesome! Check to see how private (or not) the sites are, how close you are to rec areas or highways, and what activities you and your dog can partake in locally. 

When you are preparing to go on a camping trip with your dog, keep these things in mind! Preparedness leads to success and successful camping trips are ones you will remember and cherish for years to come. Let us know if you have camped with your dog. What are your essentials for camping? Or if you haven’t yet, do you want to? If you do, remember to bring tons of treats, try to stay in the moment with your dog, and more than anything have fun!

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