5 Tips For Camping With Your Puppy

Dogs are the best tentmates.

By: Carrie Henderson

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You’re the proud owner of a brand new puppy and you can’t wait to get her out in the wild on her first camping trip! Having a companion to hike, play, and camp with you is one of the best parts of dog ownership, but doing this with a new puppy might be trickier than you think. To have the most enjoyable camping trip with your new pup, keep these five tips in mind.

1. Know your pup!

Camp at Burnt Corral Campground on Apache Lake | Photo: Kevin Kaminski

As a new puppy parent, you’re still learning about your pup and she’s still learning about you. Before taking your new dog camping, ask yourself if your pup is grown enough to handle a camping adventure.

To be a good camping companion, your dog should be able to respond to his or her name and follow basic commands like “stop,” “stay,” etc. If your dog is still chasing after every moving creature with reckless abandon, camping in a forest full of critters might be too overwhelming for her. And if your puppy is still doing puppy things, like peeing inside and chewing up your shoes and furniture, you can bet that she will cause some damage to your camping gear.

If that is the case, you might want to consider waiting a few more weeks or months before taking your new puppy on a camping trip. You don’t want your first experience camping with your pup to be so stressful that you don’t want to try it again!

2. Choose your campsite wisely.

Camp on Marshal Lake | Photo: Kevin Kaminski

Puppies are easily distracted - by noises, people, animals… sometimes by nothing! Try to minimize these distractions by choosing a campsite that is far away from other campers. You want your dog to have enough room to explore without being riled up by other dogs or campers. Her constant barking might not be what you envisioned for your peaceful weekend in the woods. Also make sure that your campsite has plenty of shade so she doesn’t overheat and a few trees that you can tie her leash or rope to.

3. Bring plenty of food and water.

Camp at Burnt Corral Campground on Apache Lake | Photo: Kevin Kaminski

Just like you, your puppy will require more food and water than usual when camping due to her increased activity level and energy expended staying warm outdoors. If you usually just feed her once a day, try feeding her twice - or increase the number of snacks you give her throughout the day. Give her fresh water frequently. If you are camping near a lake or stream, make sure this water is safe for her to drink.

4. Be prepared for puppy first aid.

Camp at Burnt Corral Campground on Apache Lake | Photo: Kevin Kaminski

Puppies can get injured, just like humans, but can’t always let you know that they’re hurting. For your first camping trip, it’s important to be aware of some common ailments that puppies might face outdoors:

  • Blisters or cuts on their paws: The padding on dogs' paws is not immune to splinters, cuts, and thorns, so survey the ground at your campsite before letting your puppy wander. If you’re going out on a hike, consider having your puppy wear dog boots to protect her feet.
  • Ticks: If your puppy is not already on tick and flea medication, you might want to invest in a tick collar for your camping trips.
  • Animals: Bears, moose, and coyotes might stay away from humans, but they are not afraid of puppies. Keep an eye on your pup at all times, especially after dark, to make sure she’s not running into potential predators. Also think about getting your dog trained in rattlesnake avoidance.

5. Cuddle up in the tent!

Camp at Marshall Lake | Photo: Kevin Kaminski

Your puppy is still growing and might not have enough body fat to keep warm at night when the temperatures drop. To help keep your dog warm, let her sleep on your sleeping pad - or bring an extra one for her. She will stay much warmer if she’s not sleeping on the cold, hard ground. Wrap your puppy up in extra blankets. Depending on the weather, you might want to consider bringing a down blanket or a kid’s size sleeping bag. One of the best ways to keep her warm throughout the night is with your own body heat! Cuddling with your pup will not only keep her warm and calm in a new environment, it’s also one of the best perks of having a dog!

Camp at Burnt Corral Campground on Apache Lake | Photo: Kevin Kaminski

Pack List:

  • Sleeping gear - depending on the weather, you might want to bring a down blanket or even a kid’s size sleeping bag for your pup.
  • Dog boots
  • Dog hydration / food pack - Be careful of how much weight your new puppy can carry. If you decide to have your puppy wear a pack, be conservative with how much weight to put in it for your first trip. Once she’s fully grown, she’ll be able to carry about 25% of her body weight - but don’t overdo it on your first go!
  • Harness
  • Long rope or tether - let your dog explore your campsite on a rope longer than her normal leash, but don’t let her out of your sight
  • Food and water
  • Collapsible dog bowls
  • A light for your dog’s collar to keep track of her at night

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.