Best Tips for Camping with Dogs

Camping is an activity our whole family loves, even our pampered Shih Tzu, Wrigley.  This is the first year that we decided to embrace camping with dogs.  Before this year, we owned a pop-up camper.  The pop-up had very limited space which didn’t allow for us to carry a dog crate with us.   We did not feel comfortable leaving our dog alone in the pop-up while we were biking or off visiting a National Park site for the day.

Best Seat at the Campsite

This season we upgraded to a hard-side camper with plenty of space.  We decided to give camping with dogs a try and see how Wrigley would like camping and hiking with us.  Shih Tzus are bred to be lap dogs who make great companions,  they are affectionate and outgoing. We knew he would love some parts of camping, but had a few concerns as well.

Concerns about camping with dogs:

1st Time Camping with Dogs

After thinking through our list of concerns, we decided that our trip to Turkey Run State Park would be the perfect first camping trip with our dog, Wrigley.  We planned a quick weekend camping trip where our activities included short hikes and a 3-hour canoe trip.  We looked up dog daycares and had a backup plan if leaving him in the camper was not an option.

Before we left home, we moved Wrigley’s crate into the camper and set up his food & water in the bunkhouse.  We took him out to the camper and introduced him to his area of the camper. Then I made sure to pack a few necessities for Wrigley.

Camping list for dogs:

After arriving at the campground, Wrigley settled into our campsite.  He was attached to his cord and enjoyed just hanging out with us.  We were surprised how easy-going our dog was with so many kids running around and other dogs walking by our site.

When it came to hiking, Wrigley was quite the adventurer.  There were plenty of creeks + streams for him to cool off in and we carried water for him so he didn’t overheat.  One benefit of having Wrigley hike with us was that our kids enjoyed hiking more.  It was fun to see how our dog navigated the rocks, streams, and stairs.

On the day we had a 3-hour canoe trip scheduled, we took Wrigley on a hike in the morning to give him plenty of exercise.  When it came time for us to go,  Wrigley was ready for a long nap so we didn’t have to worry about him barking while we were gone.

While we did have concerns before we dived into camping with dogs, our dog enhanced our camping experience and squelched our concerns.  When we took the time to think through our dog’s personality and how to make sure his needs were met, Wrigley made the perfect camping companion!  We now look forward to camping with dogs.

Happy Camping!




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Explore Camping Life is a place where our family of 5 shares our travel adventures. We camp all over America, hike through National Parks, and eat delicious food prepared at our campsite.