February 01, 2023 4 min read

A dog and its owner on a car camping trip

Traveling to the great outdoors is an adventure for the entire family, including your furry friend. When properly planned, car camping with dogs can be a fun and hassle-free experience. If it's your first time taking such a journey with your dog, this guide is everything you need to prepare for it.

10 Things You Can Do to Ensure a Great Car Camping Trip with Your Pet

While you camp out, your dog will be exposed to unusual conditions and circumstances, such as long drives, new smells, possibly large groups of people, and wildlife. Thus, you must take the time to plan your trip in a way that will provide your dog with a happy and safe journey.

1. Plan in Advance

Even though a spontaneous camping vacation with your dog may sound amazing, preparing beforehand is the only way to ensure a safe and pleasurable outdoor experience. This means:

  • Inquiring about the campsite's pet policy and guidelines.
  • Paying your dog's vet a visit for a checkup.
  • Getting a camping area booking as soon as possible, particularly during busy travel times.
  • Creating a trip itinerary that contains sufficient possibilities for your dog to relieve itself.
  • Training your dog to be good at socialization and obedience.
  • Purchasing high-quality gear, such as appropriately fitted leashes and collars.

2. Pick a Dog-Friendly Campsite

A group of friends with a dog checking the map

Before going camping with animals, confirm whether your dog is welcome at the location you've chosen. You can contact the campsite before going and ask a few things such as:

  • Leash requirements: Many campsites that allow pets have leash requirements for the safety of others around. Generally, this implies having a dog leash no longer than 6 feet.
  • Barking regulations: Barking is not uncommon with dogs. However, some campgrounds might ask you to lodge somewhere else if your pet barks excessively at night.
  • Aggressive behavior: Campgrounds certainly do not welcome aggressive dogs. So if you think your dog might behave in a way that imposes danger or discomfort to fellow campers, it’s better to make a pet-sitting arrangement.

If you are looking for car campsites in the US that allow both vehicles and pets, here are some good examples:

3. Pack Your Pet's Essentials

Some camping necessities that you should pack for your dog are:

  • Dog food
  • Food and water bowls
  • Treats
  • Tether or stake
  • Towels
  • First-aid kit for your dog
  • A properly sized leash
  • Dog waste bags
  • Toys

It is best to keep your dog's belongings in a separate bag for easy access.

4. Remember About Entertainment

Don’t expect your dog to have enough physical activity just because it’s staying outdoors. While your furry friend will surely enjoy running around and playing in nature, it’s still necessary for you to interact with it. Carry some of their favorite outdoor-safe items with you, such as rope chews and Frisbees.

5. Don't Leave Your Dog Unattended

A couple with their dog having a coffee in nature

You might assume that your dog will not create trouble for you just because it behaves well at home and in an urban environment. However, it’s vital not to leave your dog unattended when camping, as there are too many distractions and risks. Thus, make certain you have an eye on your dog at all times.

6. Watch Out for Wildlife

You should be careful about more than just other people and their pets on the campground. Keep an eye on wildlife, including both flora and fauna.

Avoid allowing your dog to drink from pools of water, and be wary of blue-green algae-infested lakes, puddles, and streams. Before embarking on your trip, investigate the local vegetation and learn how to recognize a potentially harmful plant.

7. Make or Buy a Special First-Aid Kit

It’s crucial to ensure that you have packed a first-aid kit that has items for your pet — particularly if you are planning a longer journey. The following are some of the essential items to include:

  • Veterinary records of your dog with current medications, if any
  • Elastic bandage
  • Non-stick bandages
  • Medical tape
  • Sterile eyewash for pets
  • A thermometer with a digital display

Also, find out where the nearest emergency veterinary services are before selecting a campsite.

8. Ensure the Dog's Safety

Typically, it’s imperative to either have your dog tethered when camping. In addition, it is also important to use a harness when bringing your dog for their first stroll all around the campsite. The unfamiliar views, noises, and other animals are likely to confuse or excite your pet, so keeping it close is the best way to ensure their safety.

9. Take Care About the Accommodation

A dog sleeping beside a car on a campsite

Accommodation plays an important role when you go camping with pets. The most common options for an overnight stay are:

  • Tent. It is always advisable to share the tent with your dog. This keeps your pet from roaming out in the night by itself. Thus, make sure you keep your furry friend in mind when purchasing a tent.
  • Rooftop tent. If you are taking a small canine for an outdoor trip, a rooftop tent is a great option due to its safety.
  • Outside the tent.This option is worth considering but not recommended. If you are camping on guarded grounds, you can accommodate your pet outside the tent. However, leaving your dog alone in a new place, surrounded by wildlife, is extremely dangerous, so keep it as a last resort for unexpected situations.

10. Plan Some Activities

Camping can become a favorite leisure time for you and your pet. Here is a list of some dog-friendly activities that you can do with your furry friend:

  • Exploring the woods
  • Visiting the beach
  • Taking a boat or paddle out on the water
  • Visiting green spaces
  • Eating a meal outside
  • Participating in outdoor activities

Ready to Take Your Dog for a Car Camping Adventure?

A man and a dog next to a campervan

So you've gathered all the necessities for car camping with dogs, chosen the ideal camping area, and mapped out a plan of activities for your pet. This means you have everything in place for a journey to remember. It's time to head outside with your furry friend and enjoy the beautiful outdoors!

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