Revised with new information as of January 2016
Please carefully read the disclaimer at the
end of this document.
Camping with a dog (or dogs) in the USA can be a joyous experience
for both owner and dog. A dog is thrilled at the new smells and
sites of a camp site. You will see new characteristics in your dog
when you are camping with him or her (or them); my dogs, when we
go camping, walk a little faster, open their eyes a little wider,
and raise their heads a little more high when we're out in the
wilds. Dogs discover interesting features you might otherwise
overlook. Unlike hiking, your dog does not have to be in the best
physical shape to just go camping, and you can take more supplies
with you than you can when backpacking.
My favorite photos of me and my
This page was created as a companion piece to Terri Watson
Rashid's excellent, Hiking/Backpacking with Canines back
in the mid-1990s (I used to link to her page, but it's moved so
many times and I can't keep up with it anymore). In addition to
my own experiences camping with my dogs, this page uses some
material from Terri's original site (with permission).
If you think you could go camping without a dog, you can probably go camping
with one. The additional constraints if you bring a dog, or dogs, are
that you must be (1) physically able to restrain your dog (or dogs) in the
presence of distractions, such as deer, squirrels and other critters, and
(2) responsible enough to prevent the dog from being a nuisance to other
campers or animals. This includes picking up after your pet!
If you are going to camp with a dog (or dogs), it is important that the
dog(s) is (are) well-behaved around other people (both adults and
children) and animals. Camping, particularly in the evening and mornings,
is a relaxing time - fellow campers may have just finished a long day of
hiking or driving. While a campsite may be lively during the day, once
night starts to fall, it's time to settle down. Your dog will
need to understand when play time is over and how to be quiet (no
barking!). If your dog has never been to dog school, ENROLL NOW. The cost
is minimal and it will make you a better, more responsive dog owner, as
well as a better camper with a dog. In fact, you will have an even deeper
relationship with your dog.
On her Hiking/Backpacking with Canines page, Terri Watson makes
this excellent point: "Good canine manners will go a long way towards
creating good will and increased tolerance of canine presence. Know your
dog. Be aware of what situations may make him act strangely or provoke an
aggressive or defensive reaction. Then prevent these situations or, if
unavoidable, be prepared to deal appropriately with them. You should never
take a dog out on the trail if you feel there is any chance of someone
being injured by him."
If you take your dog camping without preparation and training, you are
setting yourself up not only to make other campers angry and get yourself
thrown out of a site, but also, to fuel efforts to ban dogs altogether
from camp sites.
For 11 years, I had a lovely Australian Shepherd mix, Wiley,
and for 15 years, a boisterous Beagle/Basset Hound mix, Buster.
I then had an angel of a German Shepard-mix, Albi.
Now, I have bouncy, skittish, curious, dog-loving Mexican mutt named Lucinda.
All have great affection for people, and three of them were great with
other dogs, but Wiley would attack another
dog on sight -- and go for the kill. It's not easy camping with such a
dog, but it can be done, through a great deal of caution, sensitivity to
surroundings and responsibility on the part of the owner (me!). It was
worth it to me because of how much he loved to go camping and how happy he
was for many days after a trip. I have notes throughout this guide on how
I did it. If you have a dog-aggressive dog and don't think you can do ALL
of the precautions I mention, I strongly urge you NOT to camp with your
Return to Table of Contents
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- Vaccinations and License
It is of absolute importance that your dog's vaccinations be up-to-date,
as dogs can encounter non-vaccinated animals while camping, even if your
dog or dogs are leashed at all times (as they should be). Dog licenses
should also be current. And ask your vet about the areas where you will
be camping/traveling, as some carry additional health risks for dogs and
may warrant additional precautions..
- Chip Your Dog
Your dog needs to be chipped, and you need to make sure your contact
information is up-to-date with your vet and whomever is responsible for
the chip's information.
- Have a tag on your dog
Your dog needs to have a tag on his or her collar that has your name,
phone number and email address. Chips sometimes cannot be found by
- Know Your Dog
What excites your dog? What puts your dog "on guard"? What makes your
dog bark, growl or whimper? How does your dog deal with children? How
does your dog deal with large dogs, small dogs, female dogs, male dogs,
and certain breeds? Know your dog's language, know what sets him off,
and know how to calm him down. Learn to read his eyes, ears and body
posture. Remember that that a tail wag means only a dog is highly
interested in something - it's not necessarily an indication of
happiness. If you can't anticipate your dogs reactions to various
situations, there is no way you are ready to camp with your dog.
Dog obedience classes are ESSENTIAL for you to understand dogs. If
you have never been in a dog obedience class with your dog, I do NOT
believe you really know dogs, certainly not well enough to
take one camping. I'm not saying your dog has to be perfectly behaved
- mine never were. But I could get them to be quiet.
- Start With Short Day Trips
Dogs stress out when their routine changes, even if they like the
change. Too much stress can lead to erratic, even aggressive behavior or
illness. Getting your dog used to the many scenarios he'll encounter
while camping in the weeks before your trip is EASY (really!) and fun.
It will also help you further know and bond with your dog (and this is
always, always a good thing):
- take your dog on a day trip every week, for at least three weeks,
over the span on a month or two. Take along the dog bed and dog bowl
you intend to use while camping. Try to replicate the situations
your dog will experience during a camping trip: long drives, walking
and relaxing in a new area, having a meal, your dog sitting in the
backseat while you get gas, etc. The first time - especially the
first day - will be the hardest. When your dog realizes there is a
routine and knows what to expect, the dog will anticipate and enjoy
being away from home. My dogs always "got it" by day two.
- put up your tent in your back yard for a week. Sit inside of it
each day and read a book or listen to music for a few minutes (an
hour is best), and put your dog's bed beside you. Don't force your
dog inside, but do give your dog lots of attention if he joins you.
Even if he never joins you, you will have helped sensitize him to
- Physical Demands
While camping with your dog is not nearly as physically-demanding as
hiking, for many dogs, camping will mean some increase in physical
activity, however slight; there will be more opportunities for walking,
running and exploring than are usually found in their day-to-day
routine, and the terrain may be more challenging. A visit to the
veterinarian to evaluate general health is a good idea before your dog
camps for the first time.
- LEASH YOUR DOG
No matter how well-behaved you think your dog is, it is both impolite
and dangerous to other campers (and dangerous to your dog) NOT to have
your dog somehow under your control at all times. Your friendly,
unleashed dog could wander into a campsite where there is a
dog-aggressive dog (like mine), or a dog-aggressive PERSON, and the
results can be disastrous, even deadly. Your dog could chase after a
small, wild critter and get hit by a vehicle or run off a cliff (it
happens ALL the time). Don't chance it -- keep your dog leashed.
As someone on a dog-hike discussion group noted, "while he is your
'puddin', sweetums', or darlin', to the rest of the world he is an
unfamiliar 40 pound carnivore." Don't assume every person is a dog lover
and wants to get a closer look.
- Notify a Friend, and Sometimes, a Ranger
This isn't a tip just for camping with your dog -- it's a tip for
camping in general, and it's too important to exclude from this tip
sheet: let a friend or neighbor know what your travel plans are. If you
are entering BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land to camp, it's also a
good idea to let the nearest ranger station know you are going in,
particularly if you are alone. You are at risk for adverse encounters
with wildlife, weather or people the more remote you are. A ranger
station may tell you about reports of bear or cougar in an area. Don't
rely on a cellular phone; coverage is not good in many areas and
technology fails (batteries die, phones get dropped and break, you can't
get a signal, etc.). Make arrangements to check in with a friend upon
your return, or during a trip, and let them know when that is supposed
to happen; the check-in is essential because, if you often forget to
check back with them when you get home, then when you're really in
trouble it may take an extra day for them to realize that there's a
problem and notify searchers.
- Dog identification tags
The s-hook-style attachments on collars for tags often fail -- my dog
had one once; it's now somewhere on a beach south of Carmel, California.
Instead, use a small, strong key ring to hold tags on the collar. There
are also collars that allow tags to be fastened flat against the collar.
Make sure your tag has your name, your city and state of residence, your
phone number or email address, and, of course, the dog's name. If there
is room for your vet's phone number too, great.
Gwen Baggett says she camps with her three dogs and, each time, she
uses an "instant" pet name tag machine (found at many pet stores,
discount stores, strip malls, large grocery stores and vet offices) to
make a temporary tag for each dog, in addition to the regular tags
She says, "If we do not know the campsite ahead of time, we might leave
it blank or put 'contact ranger.'"
Fall Creek Falls State Park
I made a tag to for one of my dogs, Wiley, that said "Aggressive to
Dogs, Not to People."
In addition, it's vital to have a data chip implanted in your dog;
many veterinarians and animal shelters have scanners that will pick up
this chip, which provides identification, license and vaccination
information. There are different brands of microchips that require
different scanners (readers), so make sure the shelters in your area
have scanners for the chip you are going to have implanted. I got both
my dogs "microchipped", then moved to a new city and got a new vet who
used a different microchip; she used her brand of scanner to see if my
dogs' chip would show up; they did, although the information was
unreadable. Still, as she pointed out, were my dog to be found by
someone else, a shelter or vet with a scanner would at least know if
the dog was owned by someone, even if the chip information wasn't
Tattoos are often hard (if not impossible) to find on the dog, and
hard to interpret once they are found, so I don't recommend them.
Be certain before setting out that you have a leash, snap, collar and
buckle in good condition and will not break if the dog suddenly lunges.
Carry an additional collar and leash, just in case (you will be
surprised how often you end up needing it). I bring two leashes per dog
-- one style is a tough, thick leash, used when I need to keep my dogs
absolutely under my control, such as with my dog-aggressive Australian
Shepherd when any other dogs might be around; the other style is
retractable, which is an excellent leash for when there are no other
dogs around, and my dogs want to explore more freely.
Using the thick leash and a specially-designed tether that fastens
around a tree, a picnic table leg, my truck's back tire, etc., I can
create a really long restraint that allows my dogs almost total freedom
within our campsite. If you have two dogs, tether them far apart -- just
close enough so that they can be side-by-side only at the end of both
restraints -- otherwise, dog tangles occur. And what a pain THAT can
- harness (for the seat belt)
You may be a wonderful driver, but many people aren't. Plus, driving on
poor and/or curvy roads can send your dog all over the insides of the
car, if not through the windshield. I put my dogs each in a dog body
harness, then run a seat belt through each harness. The dogs can sit or
lay down, but can't be thrown around the car. It also keeps them in the
back seat, which is the coolest place in the truck, when I have to run
into a store or something.
If you have a truck with a bed and don't allow your dog in the cab
(which, in my opinion, is ridiculous, but...), please purchase a dog
carrier and put your dog in it when he or she travels with you; the
carrier should offer your dog just enough room to stand up and turn
around in, but no more. Dogs die from falling or jumping out of
the bed of a truck, from being thrown against the cab during a
sudden stop; even leashing them to something in the bed of the truck
is no protection, as dogs have also hung themselves while trying to
jump out. A dog carrier is the ONLY humane way to travel with
your dog in the bed of your truck. Padding the floor, ceiling and
sides offers even better protection.
You may have taken your dog in the bed of your truck, unprotected, a
dozen times, or even a hundred times, and never had any problems. So
have all the people who now have dead dogs from riding unprotected in
the bed of their trucks.
Bring bedding (a blanket and an air mattress, at least) to keep your dog
off the ground. If it's a cloth bed, you need something under the bed --
tarp, plastic, etc. -- to keep the cold from the ground coming up
through the bedding and chilling your dog. A tarp will go a long way in
keeping the dog bedding dry and clean. Also plastic underneath cloth
beds that are laid directly on the ground, outside the tent, to keep out
moisture. For my dogs, bringing their home beds along while camping is
as much behavioral support as comfort; they believe that wherever their
beds are, that's home. I put their beds in the back for the car or truck
ride, and they are content for the whole drive.
- cold protection
My Australian Shepherd, Wiley, with his
long, thick hair, loved the cold. My Beagle/Basset Hound, Buster,
did not. Albi,
my German Shepard mix, loves snow and likes the cold. Lucinda
loves snow and doesn't mind the cold, but she's not used to either
- she's made for beaches and hot climates.
If your dog has thin or short hair, or is small, outfit
him or her in a dog sweater or coat. In addition to adequate
bedding (see above), ensuring that my dog always slept on
something dry, when sleeping in the tent in cold weather, I also threw
my coat completely over Buster, including over his head (since I'm in
a sleeping bag, I don't need it); within just a few minutes, he'd
created a body oven, and because the coat is so big, he could stand up
and change positions without losing his cover. Give your dogs
additional insulation by letting them curl up against you.
And, remember -- you MUST have padding under your dog's bed in
the tent or on the ground; otherwise, cold comes up from the
ground and through the dog bed.
If your dog is shivering, he's either in pain or he's very, very
cold or both! Find out what is making your dog uncomfortable and deal
with it immediately. If that means moving to a hotel, so be
One participant in a dog hiking discussion group (see below) noted
that she sprays her dogs' feet and tummies lightly with "Pam" for
short jaunts through snow; this prevents them from picking up
snowballs in their fur, then licking and pulling snowballs for hours.
If it's below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, I believe it's too cold for a
dog and, therefore, we would sleep in the truck or, if it was really,
really too cold, in a motel. A discussion on a dog-hike list about
this garnered general agreement for 35 degrees or less being too cold
for dogs to sleep outside.
Depending on the type of terrain and the dog's tendency to tear
footpads, if there is going to be ice on the ground at the campsite, or
if fire ants might be a problem, or if the terrain is particularly
rocky, consider buying some booties to protect your dog's feet. I found
some at Goodwill. I was convinced Lucinda would be too freaked out to
walk in them, but she
walked in them well from day one. Since she spent her first seven
months of life in dog shelters, her pads were baby soft when we got her,
and even after a year with us, I wasn't sure how tough her feet were, so
I think the booties in ice are a good idea (fresh snow I don't worry
- food and water
Clean drinking water is a must for both you and your dog. Although
natural water sources may be plentiful near a campsite, the water may be
contaminated with parasites, harmful bacteria or chemicals. In areas
where giardiasis is a problem you should not allow your dog to drink
from streams or lakes (call the nearest park ranger station to find out
the condition of streams and lakes). In fact, don't let your dog in ANY
standing water while camping or hiking - no ponds! Toxic blue-green
algae isn't always easy to see, and I have a very good friend whose
young, healthy dog died after swimming in such a pond.
When camping in primitive sites (which have pit toilets only), I
carry a 10 gallon plastic container of water I filled before I left
home. When desert camping, the 10 gallon container is our only water
source, and it's also an excellent backup should the truck break down
far from a water source. I also carry two one-gallon jugs of water --
one for the dogs, and one for me (I carry one for the dogs because
Buster liked to lick the opening while the water is coming out into
his bowl). The dogs get water at EVERY stop we make (getting gas, rest
area, wherever); riding in the truck really dry them out.
A reader in Arizona offers this advice: "I live in the desert near
Lake Mead. In August it gets to 110-116 -- really hot, so even a short
trip in the car is blazing to a dog. I have two one gallon milk jugs
in my car. I cut one down just underneath the handle, so that it fits
on the bottom of the other jug. I fill the jug with water and when my
dog needs a drink I slide the 'dish' of the jug and fill it up. I
never worry about a water dish because it fits all in one and saves
space in the car."
Don't be fooled by cold weather into thinking you don't need more
water. Adequate fluid levels are essential for heat maintenance in
both temperature extremes. Drink plenty of water and encourage your
dog to do the same. In fact, my dogs have all gotten REALLY dried out
in cold weather. And eating snow does NOT hydrate a dog!
- dog food
I take two-extra days of dog meals beyond our planned stay, just in
case. Whatever you use for food storage, it should be sturdy and water
proof. It should also be critter proof. If there is a bear box at the
camp site, USE IT to store dog food, your food, anything that food has
been in, your tooth paste, etc. This isn't just to keep bears out --
there are a variety of critters who will go for dog food or any other
food if they smell it. If there is no bear box, but there might be bears
around, hang your food in a tree. If bears aren't a danger, then keep
all food and potentially smelly items in your vehicle.
Even if you don't think you are going to be anywhere near water, bring
an extra towel just for the dog(s). You won't regret it. Plus, if you've
read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, I mean, come
on, you need a towel!! There are ultra-absorbent towels you can get from
camping shops or pet stores; they dry in just a couple of hours and soak
up an amazing amount of water.
- first aid kit
Your dog does not face as great of a risk of injury or death just
camping with you rather than hiking/backpacking with you... but the
risks are there, none-the-less.
Buy a standard First Aid Kit, then enhance it with extra items just
for the dogs (extra bandages, extra swabs, etc.). Become familiar with
the items in your First Aid Kit and what they are used for.
Always know where the nearest town is that might have a
veterinarian. If your dog becomes injured, do what you can to make
your dog comfortable and get to a vet FAST. Your goal when giving
a dog First Aid is to stop bleeding, prevent further injury and to
calm the dog enough so that you can transport the dog to a vet.
Medicating your dog is very difficult and can be dangerous -- a dog
is not a human; his or her system will often NOT react the same way to
medication as a human's. Your dog's weight is also a tremendous factor
when considering dosage. I do not suggest you try to medicate a dog
except in the most extreme circumstances.
These are some of the suggestions regarding first aid kits made on
various dog-hikig groups. Taking all of these items, however, might
not leave room in your vehicle for your dogs!
A back country EMT on the dog-hike list suggested adding these items
(to add the doggy stuff, look in pet catalogs or ask your vet):
- coated aspirin (do not give regular aspirin to a dog, except by
vet's guidance, and don't give any kind of aspirin to a dog unless
you have absolutely no alternative)
- VetWrap- sticks to fur better without pulling out hair
- Kwik Stop or septic powder
- Small nail scissors
- Ear and eye ointment- in 1/8 oz tubs (a little Ottomax and
- Good tick tweezers and maybe Tick Release
- Hemostats, needle nose pliers and lighter Razor blade to shave
hair from an injured area
- Butterfly bandages- wound closure strips
- Waterproof surgical tape
- Sam splints
- Mole skin irrigation needle (to flush eyes and wounds trauma
dressing and 4 x 4 bandages)
- Snake bite kit
(although she warned, "if your dog gets bit by a rattler and you are
way out, give him plenty of love and affection because no one is
going to Medflight your dog out of the wilderness, unless it is a
certified SAR dog. Sad but true.")
- Benedryl (in case your dog is stung by a bee or fire ant; keep
dosage TINY, like, 1/5 of one pill)
- Blood stop powder
- Tube of triple antibiotic (works great for plugging puncture
- kotex (to absorb blood and act as a dressing)
- suture packets (sufficient to do the job, the sutures can be taken
out later at the vet)
- hydrogen peroxide, to clean wounds and to induce vomiting (just a
TINY amount will do, and do this only if you have no alternative)
Enclose items in a ziplock bag (or several). Back country EMT courses
also teach how to improvise things in the field, such as duct tape if
you have no Vet Wrap.
She adds "one more thing to remember- dogs can endure a lot more pain
then we can - or for that matter than we can watch them go through."
Many of these will not make you popular with other campers or dog owners.
But if you think you might need to break up a dog fight, these are your
I always carried a strong, cloth muzzle for my Australian Shepherd mix,
Wiley, the dog-aggressive-dog. It allowed
him to open his mouth only enough to drink or have a dog treat. If you
have a dog-aggressive-dog, you should not only muzzle such a dog in the
presence of other dogs, because it conditions the dog to begin to worry
as soon as you put the muzzle on. Instead, put the muzzle on whenever
you leash the dog; then the muzzle means he's going for a walk -- always
a good thing in a dog's mind.
Even if your dog doesn't bite, BRING A MUZZLE. If your dog is
injured, he may need the muzzle to prevent him from biting you or
others trying to give him first aid.
- dog fight-deterrents
I worked very hard to keep my dog aggressive dog away from other dogs.
Outside, he was always leashed if there was even a hint of other dogs
around, and often muzzled. If I saw another dog, we went in a different
direction. Sadly, many dog owners let their dogs run up to strange dogs;
and while most of these dogs heard or smelled Wiley and decided they
didn't want to go near him, a few decided they wanted to fight (and,
afterwards, their owners always said, "Oh, I've never seen Fluffy act
Even if you don't have a dog-aggressive-dog, you could encounter
Back in the early 1990s, I carried at least one old empty plastic
soda bottle (2 liters), with their light and very crinkly plastic. If
you took such a bottle and hit yourself in the head with it, it
wouldn't hurt, but it would make a TERRIBLE noise -- it was
recommended by my dog trainer to stop dog fights, and it worked like a
charm. Unfortunately, soda bottles are now made with VERY hard
plastic, and using such would seriously injure the dogs - so please
DON'T do it.
There are some alternatives:
- carry a spray bottle filled with water, if dog will startle your
dog (Wiley wasn't deterred at ALL by this).
- carry a soda can full of pebbles, or some other noise maker, and
shake it during a dog fight, or when your dog starts growling (but
note that this doesn't work with all dogs -- it never worked with
mine). During the break in fighting or posturing that may result
from any of the aforementioned, get your dog OUT of the situation.
- carry a small air horn (like the kind on boats). It's not only an
effective startle effect during dog fights, it works great on bears
too, I hear. You can get them at any boating/marine store. Large
super Wal-marts may even sell them.
- carry a can of Halt!, a mild pepper-spray, the same stuff many
letter-carriers have on their belts. It can be bought for under $10
in many cycling stores. Halt! has no lasting effects and can be
washed out of the dog's eyes with water. Halt! has a range of only
15' or so, and if there's a wind blowing, you or your dog can get a
"back-blast" from it if you're not careful.
Someone also sent me this, and I think for large dogs, it's a great
My girls are anything but aggressive -- they are huge wusses (Malamutes).
However, I have had to deal with them trying to take off on me. I finally
purchased dual shock collars for them that operate off of one transmitter.
Josie is the orange button and Lil' Bit is green one. It has an easily
adjustable range of tweaking them a little to making them jump in the air
and cry out. Each dog has different sensitivity to it. Josie at 130lbs can
barely tolerate the first setting, it goes 1-5. Lilí Bit at 105lbs has
been hit with 4 to stop her from deer chasing in my woods. It is a whole
lot more humane than watching my dog get hurt or hurt someone else. if
your dog is in contact with another dog and you zap him, the other dog
gets hit too. The other dog won't know what hit him, but it should take
the fight out of him! An added plus it that I no longer run after them
yelling and screaming to stop. I call them once, if they don't make a
visible effort to return to me... And yes, they know what "Mommy fry you!"
means. All it takes now is me saying it, and they turn toward me, which is
all I want. I paid right around $330 for the dual collars and transmitter.
The girls also wear reflective Quick Spot vests and cow bells when itís
deer hunting season. My ten acres of woods is fenced in and I and my dogs
consider it our back yard, however some of the local poachers view it
differently. It would be a good idea to have them wear the vests when
camping or hiking too.
If you have more alternative ideas on how to humanely prevent or break up
dog fights, please contact me. (I sure miss
those soft plastic soda bottles...)
Dog comb and brush, dog toys, dog treats, extra bags or newspapers for
doggie-business cleanup, and large bags for garbage (please dispose of all
garbage and collected poo bags in official garbage receptacles - garbage
cans are plentiful in the USA, at every camp ground entrance, every
grocery story, and every rest stop.
vehicle heating and cooling systems
If you are going to be driving through intense heat or cold, your dogs
will need the protection your vehicle can provide. For my dogs, heat is
the worst of the two extremes (I always worry about heat
exhaustion or heat stroke), so I make sure my air-conditioner is in
good working order before we take off on a trip.
Return to Table of Contents
I'm happy to say that there seems to be more places now to camp with dogs
than there were back in the 1990s, when I authored the first version of this
Most state parks allow dogs (sometimes even in cabins and yurts!), and a
growing number also allow dogs on some or all hiking trails (dogs
must be leashed at all times!).
Private camping sites are hit and miss: some are very accommodating
regarding dogs, allowing you to walk everywhere with them, and some limit
dog walking to a tiny patch of ground that won't at all meet your dogs'
Dogs are allowed in the camp sites of National Parks, National Monuments
and National Forests, as well as on or alongside paved roads, but they are
usually NOT allowed on trails. The web sites for these always note the
rules regarding dogs.
If I have the luxury of using the Web to research camp sites, I do so.
If there isn't enough information on the web site, I call or email the
camp site. If I don't have that luxury, I have a look at the information
board in the front of the camp site I want to stay in. Whether state park,
national park or private site, the camp site bulletin board will give you
the information you need regarding dogs.
I love camping on Bureau of Land
Management land, because there's usually no one else around.
However, your chances of wildlife encounters increase on BLM land, so be
extra cautious of such.
Unfortunately, uncontrolled dogs and irresponsible pet owners have
contributed to the closing of some campsites to dogs, and the hostile
reactions by some fellow campers when they see you have dogs with you. Remember:
your behavior with your dogs effects ALL campers with dogs! Keep
your dog quiet, exhaust your dog with exercise, keep your dog on a leash
at all times and never, ever leave your dog alone at a camp site.
Having a dog-aggressive-dog, I made sure I left myself plenty of
daylight to find a campsite, allowing for the possibility of having to
move later (either because of the dog or because the guy in the adjacent
campsite has an RV with a generator running all night).
If you have a dog-aggressive-dog or people-aggressive dog, it is YOUR
obligation to keep the dog well away from other dogs or people, especially
children. If you have to camp near other campers with a dog, don't
hesitate to let them know, in the most friendly but firmest way possible,
that you have a dog that should NOT be approached, and that while you will
have this dog restrained at all times, they will need to kindly stay away.
Most people will respect this and even sympathize; if you encounter
someone who is unfriendly or confrontational or hysterical, move; reason
won't work, and it's not worth it to try with such people.
A guy I met at a camp site in Billings, Montana had made a small printed
sign in a clear sandwich bag telling people to not approach his dog. He
hung it from a picnic table near his dog. You may not have your eye on
your dog at all times, and such a sign helps warn anyone you might not see
approaching your camp site.
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Heat stroke is a life threatening condition for your dog (hey, and for you
too) and you should be able to recognize the warning signs and know how to
prevent it. Even on a cool day, if it is very sunny, and your dog is working
hard or is a dark-coated breed, they can get overheated. Remember: dogs have
a body temperature that is higher than yours! Dogs get hot very
quickly, looooooong before you will. If you would be stifled in your truck
were you wearing a sweater or your coat, it's too hot for your dog. Heat
stroke is as big a threat to a dog while camping as disease or animal
Watch your dog for signs of heat exhaustion or stroke. Particularly,
unusually rapid panting, and/or a bright red tongue or mucous membranes.
The dog's primary mechanism for cooling off is through panting. Since this
cooling process uses evaporation the dog will require more water when he
is panting heavily. Shorter-nosed breeds (eg, Bulldogs, Pugs) may have a
less efficient heat exchange rate, so should be watched especially
Check with your vet for the best ways to cool down an overheated dog.
There are more suggestions on The
Dog FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions and Their Answers) about this
and other dog health issues. There is also more information about heat
exhaustion on the archived Backpacking
With Your Dog FAQs.
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Always pick up after your dog in a campsite or where anyone hikes or walks
-- dog waste is not the same as other animal waste, even that of wolves or
coyotes. It is bad for the environment, particularly near water sources, and
most bothersome to other campers and hikers. In fact, its a temptation to
many dogs to eat, and that is extremely unhealthy. You are contributing to
people's bad feelings about dogs, and contributing to more campsites being
closed to dog owners, by not scooping.
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John Conrard cautions:
When going on winter hikes with your dog, keep a keen eye out for puddles
in the parking lot. These could be antifreeze. Some people top off their
antifreeze when adding it to their cars in a parking lot, spill it, or
have their car boil, leaving deadly puddles of antifreeze behind. All it
takes is little bit, not even a table spoon, to kill your dog. "A musher
in our club lost two dogs to this scenario last year." Even if your dog
takes a lick and shows no immediate signs of problems TAKE HIM TO THE
Be friendly and courteous to other people in the campsite. Responsible,
educated dog owners that bring their pets with them camping leave a positive
impression on others, making it easier for the dog owners who follow you.
I like to think of it as a really, really long, involved camping trip...
in February 2001, I moved to Germany with my dogs. And I've compiled a
list of resources and advice I found
helpful in getting us all over to Deutschland. I moved back to the
USA in April 2009.
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Hiking and camping are potentially dangerous activities. The author of this
document is not an instructor or an authority in any of these areas, or in
veterinary science, or in the area of dog training in general. You are
responsible for the health, welfare and actions of your canine companion.
This document is the author's attempt to pass on information she wished she
had had before she camped with her dogs the first time. The information is
gathered from her personal experience as well as items heard from others,
not all of which has she experienced firsthand. In other words, some of the
content in this document is strictly hearsay. You should always check with
your veterinarian and/or other experts when you are beyond your own area of
expertise. The author assumes no responsibility for the use of information
contained within this document.
Please adopt a
shelter dog, & please don't give up on your dog
Also, see Prison-Based
Dog Training Programs: Rehabilitation for Canine and Human
Thanks to Terri Watson Rashid, author of Hiking/Backpacking with
Thanks also to everyone who contributed information.
This information is subject to change, per new experiences and
suggestions. If you want to suggest a link FROM this page, please read
this linking criteria.
The art work and material on
this site was created and is copyrighted 1996-2017
to or from my web site
traveling is not only wonderful, but important to your
life, and why women's excuses to avoid traveling are
really just words
travelers: general information and advice (especially
for women novice travelers)
travelers: health & safety considerations
travelers: packing suggestions
travelers: other resources to help women travelers
options, and advice on preventing motion sickness
the importance of complaining
travelers: advice for traveling in developing countries
Money with Park Passes in the USA
Started as a Motorcycle Rider: My Journey (Tips for
Women Who Want To Ride)
for Women Motorcycle Travelers: packing
Saving Money for Travel (or to
pay off your debt)
benefaciendo: "to travel along while doing good."
advice for those wanting to make their travel more than
sight-seeing and shopping.
the Internet to Share Your Adventure During Your Adventure,
advice on blogging, photo-sharing, tweeting, etc.
for Women Aid Workers in Afghanistan; many of these
tips are valid for travel anywhere in the world where the
culture is more conservative/restrictive regarding women
adventures in Germany
adventures in Europe, Africa, as well as road trips in
for Hotels, Hostels & Campgrounds in Transitional
& Developing Countries: the Qualities of Great, Cheap
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