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How to get your dog ready for camping?

I would love to start camping with my dog, but have no idea how to get him used to being in a tent, what to put in the emergency kit for the dog, and looking for any best practices anyone has! I saw some REI stores have classes for this, but unfortunately mine does not. Which is surprising with the amount of people who have dogs in my region (Raleigh-Durham). Any advice? Any warning signs on hikes / camping with dogs? How about getting them to sleep at night in the tent?
6 Replies

@itsdawsontime Great topic! I am a puppy aunt to a super cute Golden Retriever. I really enjoyed this Expert Advice article about Hiking or Backpacking with Your Dog. I also plan to purchase an emergency rescue harness just to be prepared for when he gets bigger. Carrying him on the trail is fine now, but not when he is 75lbs!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thanks for the info from both of you! I have a 75 lbs Husky / Border Collie, so I think winter camping may work best with us here in North Carolina! 



For me, I have two dogs that I take camping with. I love taking them on hikes but I usually keep them on leash because they love to chase squirrels. As for the sleeping, it depends on the season. During the CA summers, they tend to wake up frequently listening to the animals around the camp or if someone walks past the tent late at night. During the CA winters in the snow, they're usually bundled up in my sleeping bag or I'll bring an extra down blanket for them to sleep in. I also bring some extra food and treats just in case. I hope this helps!! 

I just got my first puppy in over a decade and immediately immersed her into hiking. Within a couple weeks she was strong enough to hike 10 miles with her own pack (Ripley is a 20 lbs mix). The first overnighter was fun and I woke up a few times to her falling asleep/toppling over while sitting up. The second night went much better and by the third night, she was a complete pro at sleeping in a tent. I like your question about an emergency dog kit. I haven't thought about that but will bring it up with our vetrinarian friends.  


Hi, I’m a bit late to the party, hope this is still helpful. We camp with our dog about 10x a year in different states. 

For sleeping /tent, try to make the sleeping area as much like your dog likes to sleep at home in the beginning. If it’s a crate, try to bring the crate; his face bed or blanket, etc. OR if you have limited vehicle or tent capacity for such things, introduce his tent sleeping environment at home. We have a Coleman outdoor dog bed for our guy. It rolls up, is machine washable, and is meant for the rugged outdoors. We introduced your dog to it a couple weeks ahead of time around the house. 

On our very first camping trip, the dog recognized the tent as his home and we did not have any potty probs. Now he loves to be in the tent by himself if he’s tired or cold. 

For emergency first aid, the most common concern is fleas and ticks. Also heartowrm from mosquitoes. Bring a flea tick comb and makes sure he’s up to date on heartiest meds. There’s also a vaccination against certain diseases from rodent poo that’s be helpful as precautionary. 

If you may be in areas where your dog will go swimming or be in mud, we bring dog wipes. 

A reflectove harness is a must. Depending on where you go camping (state park) or wilderness, a coated chain and stake/tie line strong enough for the size of your dog is also great to give them freedom but prevent them from sniffing off after an animal. 

I hope that helps! Best of luck. Camping with a dog is so much fun once. 


Easiest way to get your dog used to a tent is just set one up in your backyard or I room in your house/apartment and go lay inside it. They will follow you in there eventually and get use to being inside of one. 

As for hiking with a dog. I would just know your dogs limits. If your dog can’t go for a 5 mile walk around your neighborhood then your dog probably isn’t going to make the 7 mile hike through the mountains. All dogs love walks so they can sniff around and mark their territory. Overall, I say go for it! Bring your dog! I always have!