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10 do’s and don’ts of camping with your dog

    Camping with your dog brings a whole new level to your connection.

    Sitting at the campfire with your best fur friend can be a quiet, calming, soulful experience if you let it.

    This year, we’re late to the game.

    The official start to camping season is usually Memorial Day Weekend. That’s when the tent gets dusted off, the sleeping bags shaken out and that ratty plastic, plaid tablecloth patched up with duct tape.

    At least that’s how it works with our camping gear.

    We didn’t get out until this week, what with weather and jobs and business and traveling and All. The. Things.

    I couldn’t resist a chance at sunrise at Chatcolet Lake in Heyburn State Park, though.

    dog at sunrise at chatcolet lake
    Sunrise at Chatcolet Lake

    What to do when camping with your dog

    I’ve been camping with dogs since 2007, starting with a weekend trip to Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, with Shep. It was my first time camping, my first time building a fire, my first time all things camping.

    This was me building that fire:

    a younger me building a fire
    Forever ago in Jasper National Park, Alberta

    After all it’s just you, your dog, the crackling of the fire and the night stars gleaming above.

    Shep loved camping. 

    This was his last ever trip to the woods with us in 2014. He died two months later.

    shep the maremma sheepdog camping

    I’m never really sure if Bella enjoys camping. She mostly looks miserable laying in the dirt. I mean, she is a princess and a princess deserves a clean place to nap, right?

    That’s probably one of the first things you should do before you even buy your first tent: figure out if your dog will actually enjoy the experience. Some dogs might not be suited for the outdoor adventure life.

    Here are a few other tips:

    • Choose a pet-friendly destination. Last Chatcolet at Heyburn State Park is one of our go-to spots. We have the freedom to go camping midweek, which allows us to enjoy most state parks quietly. (We aren’t young weekend party animals … anymore.) Most of the camping areas at state parks in Idaho and Washington are dog-friendly but you must keep your dog on leash at all times.
    • Make sure you know all the rules or regulations in the area. National and state parks often have restrictions to follow to keep your pet and wildlife and habitats safe. Most national parks in the United States prohibit dogs on any hiking trails, while in Canada you just have to follow that durned leash rule. Also, pick up your shit. 
    • Pack the right gear. When we head out camping with Bella, I always bring her EzyDog X-Link harness, her EzyDog Road Runner leash (in orange, of course), cooling jacket on those hot-as-hell days, an inflatable day bed she inherited from Shep, food and water bowls, food and, of course, yummy, super smelly treats.
    maremma sheepdog hiking in spokane
    Bella in her ezydog summit backpack
    • Bring the comforts for you and your best fur friend. Bella must have her regular schedule of treats and peanut butter. She should have at least a couple comforts of home if we’re going to expect her to nap in the dirt while we play cribbage and rummy.
    • Avoid attracting other animals. A safe, contained place to store your food is a good idea to keep wildlife away. We’ve had raccoons scratching around our campsite but that’s about as bad as it’s gotten for us. If you’re camping in bear country, it’s an absolute necessity.

    What not to do when camping with your dog 

    Wherever there’s a list of do’s, there’s also a list of what not to do, right?

    Here are a few things to keep in mind to truly enjoy your camping experience with your dog:

    • Don’t leave your dog unattended. Your dog is your best bud. Leaving them cooped up in the tent or camper is no fun (and could be dangerous). When it comes to Bella, leaving her behind is never an option. She is by my side every minute … unless of course I’m in the latrine. If she can’t go somewhere, I don’t go.
    • Don’t leave their poop laying around. It can never be said often enough: Pick up after your dog and properly dispose of the waste. If you’re in a pack-it-in, pack-it-out location, dig a cathole and bury your shit.
    • Don’t expect your dog to be OK the entire trip. Dogs are routine animals. They love to be on schedule. Bella expects her breakfast, dinner and peanut butter at very precise times of the day. Be understanding and prepare to handle any stressors. 
    truck tents for camping with your dog
    Bella doesn’t care for the campfire and hides in the tent
    • Don’t forget to practice before you get there. Sleeping outside can be a trip for any animal, two-legged or four. Instead of diving right in and shocking the crap out of your dog with all those night sounds, try sleeping in the backyard a night or two. 
    • Don’t forget your pet emergency kit. It’s a good idea to be prepared for nicks, cuts and scrapes or even worse. Make sure you have an emergency preparedness kit for your dog that includes: her medical and vaccination records, a first aid kit, and extra leash and harness.

    All around the circle

    We just did a one-nighter this week at Chatcolet campground in Heyburn State Park, about an hour southeast of Spokane Valley. I need to give backpacking a try soon!

    (Note: Women campers in Idaho, I will do my best to help you find the right camping spot in Spokane Valley if you need it.)

    Our worldwide pet photographers blog circle is focused this week on outdoor adventures. Camping with your dog is one of the best ways to build your bond, enjoy some quiet time and breathe some fresh air.

    (Also note: If you’re planning a trip this weekend of camping with your dog in Idaho, leave your weed at home. You could get in some serious trouble if caught since possession is still a misdemeanor in that state.)

    Let’s check out the outdoor adventures, starting with Charlotte NC dog photographer Kim Hollis of BARKography recently went to the area’s newest dog water park, DogWorld Dog Park.

    When you get to the bottom of Kim’s post, click the link for the next post in the blog circle. Keep that up on everyone’s post until you find yourself back here to our outdoor adventures and the do’s and don’ts of camping with your dog.

    That’s when you know you’re home.

    Right where you belong.

    And when you’re ready to bring me on your camping trip to bring the adventure with badass portraits of you and your dog doing doing things together, hit me up.

    nv-author-image

    Dogs. Adventure. Outdoors. These words set Angela's heart afire. Angela Schneider, an award-winning writer and dog photographer, documents the story of you and your dog and the adventures you take together. Your portraits will be a statement piece in your home, art that will make your friends and family beg to hear its story.

    16 thoughts on “10 do’s and don’ts of camping with your dog”

    1. avatar of carol

      Every time I drag my husband outdoors with the dogs there’s always some mishap of the insect form. Usually bees. He hates bees. I’d love to do more camping though. Especially around water since me and both pups love being in the water.

    2. avatar of jan

      Camping with your pup sounds amazing. It’s been a LONG time since I slept in a tent. Enjoy your adventures with Bella!

    3. avatar of cahlean

      Love this! I’ve been preplanning for the new puppy and camping would be a fun activity to do! Good info and as always ample personality in your writing. Ah Bella the princess haha! Where did you find a ginormous cooling jacket?

    4. avatar of elaine

      When our kids were young, we camped a lot and always took our dogs (two at the time). I wish I had these pointers then. I LOVE YOUR TENT! Was it purchased to specifically fit the bed of your truck, or does it just fit? If you could share purchasing info, I’d love to get one for my grandkids!

    5. avatar of holly

      We take Mozi every time we go camping. Sometimes we take the camper and sometimes we sleep in the back of the truck. One thing I know for sure, is that when we get home, Mozi will sleep for 2 days straight. She enjoys her adventures but also enjoys sleeping. lol!
      BTW…I can’t wait to meet Bella, the Princess. <3

      1. avatar of angela

        I know people who go camping without a dog. I see people camping without a dog. I don’t get it. Camping and dogs go together like peanut butter and Bella.

    6. avatar of tracy allard

      I love that picture of Bella peeking out of tent, it’s perfect! I imagine her saying “you can bring my water and snack to me here” LOL. Great tips, I never thought of practicing beforehand. Our dogs are definite creatures of habit, I can only imagine what they’d do if I said “No king size Purple mattress tonight, we’ll all be sleeping on the ground”. I expect there might be a revolt! LOL

    7. avatar of darlene

      What a great post, Angela! Makes me want to go camping! I LOVE Bella in the tent – she looks so happy – great pictures! So glad you got to get away and enjoy nature and some “down” time – you deserve it!

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