12 tips and hacks you need when tent camping with dogs

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If you love hiking and backpacking as much as I do, you’ve surely been thinking about tent camping with your dog, as well.

Wouldn’t your adventure become twice as awesome if you could fall asleep with your furry friend next to you?

For longer treks and hikes, you’ll have to spend the night somewhere. And if you’re accompanied by Fido, the best way to go is undoubtedly camping!

Both RV camping and tent camping can be great to do with your dog. With RV camping you have the advantage that you have a lot of space.

To go tent camping you actually have to prepare yourself and your dog a little more.

But don’t worry! In this guide we’ll cover everything you need to know to be perfectly ready to hit the campground.

First of all, let’s look at what’s necessary go get ready to go tent camping with a dog. At the end you’ll find a list of 12 hacks and tips for camping with dogs.

What to bring when tent camping with dogs

Now, what do you actually have to bring to go tent camping with your four-legged companion?

Backpacking tent for one or two plus dog

Let’s start with the obvious: you need a tent.

More specifically, a big tent! Sure, a 9 lb Miniature Poodle like Baloo can easily curl up in one corner, pretty much without you even noticing him.

Anything bigger than that will use some of your space, though.

If it’s just you and your dog, you should either look for a very spacious one-person tent or take a two-person tent straight away.

If you’re two plus dog, choose a spacious 2-person tent or get a 3-person tent.

Here are your best options: In my opinion, the Weanas Professional Backpacking tent is the absolute best option, both for one or 2 people plus dog.

For one plus dog I recommend the 1-2 person version ($76.99). For two plus dog, pick the 2-3 person version ($89.99). These are very spacious, high-quality at an unbeatable price.

If you want a more in depth guide and a different opinion, click here.

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What gear do you need?

Apart from the things that you need for yourself, you should also think about Fido’s things.

In terms of dog gear there are a few things that can come in handy.

  • Dog sleeping bag: unless you like sharing your sleeping bag with your potentially dirty, smelly doggo, a dog sleeping bag is highly recommended for colder regions. Check out my post listing the 3 best options for small dog.
  • Dog sleeping mattress: if you don’t want to bring a dog sleeping bag, consider either getting your dog a sleeping mattress. Or you can also bring his dog bed or blanket. This can get damped, when it’s wet, though.
  • Dog boots: Frankly, I’m not a very big fan of dog boots. After all, dogs are made for the outdoors. I’ve never used any dog boots for Baloo. There are two examples in which case I recommend them, though: If you know that your dog has very sensitive paws, then they can serve as a good protection. And when you’re hiking on really hot ground, such as a desert, a dog that isn’t used to it will definitely need boots.
  • Dog jacket: Again, nothing I would recommend just because it looks fancy. However, some dogs need jackets for rainy or cold days. Baloo e.g. has only a single-coated fur (the reason why poodles don’t shed). This means that rain goes straight onto his skin and makes him go freezing. I’ve learned that the hard way when we went on an overnight backpacking trip and it rained for the whole day. After two hours, Baloo was shivering so much that he couldn’t walk anymore, and we had to carry him. This was when I decided to get him a jacket. And since then I always bring it on every hiking, backpacking and camping trip.
  • Collapsible bowls: These are just great for food and water. They’re light-weighed and they don’t use up much space.
  • Dog backpack: If you have a medium or large dog, he can help you by carrying some of his own things. Make sure to train it properly, though. Here you can find out everything to get your pup ready for a dog pack.
  • Dog backpack carrier: If you have a small dog on the other hand, a dog backpack carrier can be very handy. Particularly, if your dog is still a puppy or can’t walk long distances, it’s a great way to provide some rest for him. However, if you have a huge backpack yourself, you won’t be able to carry a dog backpack carrier as well. So, this is only an option if you have another person with you who can help you carry or if you have minimal luggage.

If you want to learn more, make sure to check out my post about the 6 best dog backpack carriers for hiking.

Complete packing list for camping with a dog

In order to make sure you don’t forget anything, I’ve put together a complete packing list for tent camping with a dog. Make sure to check it out before you go on your trip.

What do you do with your dog while camping?

If you’re new to camping with a dog, you might be wondering what you should actually do with your dog while camping.

While camping, your dog is normally always with you. It’s a great idea to bring a long leash so that you can attach him somewhere and he still has some space to move. But other than that, he’s with you!

You need to keep this in mind when you plan your next tent camping trip. If you want to bring your pup, you might need to adapt a little bit.

Let’s look at two other very important questions.

Where do dogs sleep when camping?

When you go tent camping with your dog, your dog will always sleep with you in your tent.

Leaving him outside the tent can become very dangerous. There might be other wildlife around that wants to check out your dog or that your dog wants to chase. Plus, nights can get really cold, even if the day was hot. So, leaving him outside definitely isn’t an option!

If your dog is used to sleeping outside, the only thing you could consider is leaving him in the vestibule. But then you still have the problem with other wildlife. So, I’d really keep him inside.

I’ve actually got a full article covering that question in detail. Make sure to check it out here.

Can you a leave a dog in a tent?

Generally, no.

There are very few exceptions to this rule. I’ve covered this topic in detail in this post.

Here’s a quick overview:

You can leave your dog in a winter tent. This is a very sturdy tent with an oven.  It’s not as sturdy as a house, though.

The only occasions where I’d leave my dog in a summer tent is after dawn. As soon as the sun hits the tent, it gets way too hot!

Specific questions to go tent camping with a dog

Now let’s look at some more specific questions.

Taking your dog camping for the first time

If you’re reading this before you’re taking your dog camping for the first time, then I recommend you actually start with another article where I cover this exact question.

In short, this is what you should consider:

  • Get your dog used to sleeping in the tent
  • Get your dog in shape
  • Teach him some obedience
  • Pick a good campsite
  • Check rules and regulations
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Camping with multiple dogs

Alright, now I’ve talked a lot about camping with a dog. But what about if you have multiple dogs?

Well, not that much changes. Apart from the fact that you’ll need to bring more gear. First, if you have multiple small dogs, you can definitely forget about the dog backpack carrier.

Concerning the tent, I’d recommend you get a tent for one person more than you are per 1 to 2 dogs (e.g. 3-person tent for 2 plus 2 dogs). For three or four dogs, a tent for 2 extra people is probably the best idea.

And one more important thing: you’ll want to have your dogs listening super well!

Having to look after one dog that doesn’t listen so well can be exhausting. Having a couple is simply not feasible. Make sure they walk well on a leash or potentially off-leash, have a strong recall and know other simple obedience.

12 hacks and tips for camping with dogs

Okay, we’ve gone over some specific questions. Let’s wrap this up by giving you an overview of all the things you need to think about before and while camping.

1. Check rules and regulations beforehand

This pretty much applies to all trips you go on with your dog. Dogs aren’t allowed everywhere and if they are, they often have to be leashed. So, always make sure to check the rule and regulations of the trail and campsite where you want to go before you go tent camping with your dog. For a more in-depth guide on rules and regulations, click here.

2. Bring enough food and water

This probably goes without saying. However, it might surprise you how much extra weight it actually is. Make sure to calculate this in when packing.

Personally, I’m not super strict when it comes to water. Unless, I know that it’s actually problematic to drink, I let Baloo drink out of springs or lakes.

If you want to be really use, it’s best to filter the water, though (check nr. 3)

3. Bring a water filter

If you want to be sure that Fido doesn’t get sick from drinking contaminated water, get yourself a water purifying filter. This can come in handy for you, too and it doesn’t weigh much.

Personally, I use this water filter and can highly recommend it. It’s super small and light-weighed, plus it’s cheap. Could you ask for anything else?

4. Buy a tent that is big enough

I’ve already quickly touched on that. Believe me, it’s no fun if your doggo stretches out over the whole tent and you don’t have any space to sleep left.

For one or two medium to large dog, it’s always best to buy a tent for one person more than you are (e.g. 3-person tent for 2 people plus 1 or 2 dogs).

5. Bring lots of poop bags

You should always pick up your dog’s poop or at least bury it.

On campgrounds you definitely have to pick it up, though.

So, don’t forget to bring loooots of poop bags. Btw, this is something you can give your dog to carry In his own backpack.

6. Keep your dog leashed

On most campsites your dog has to be leashed at all times.

This rule also applies for most National parks and other trails. Unless your dog has a very strong recall and can walk heel when he’s off-leash, it’s better to keep him leashed. Not everyone likes dogs, and some are even terrified.

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7. Bring biodegradable soap and baby wipes

This is a life-saver if your pup loves to roll in smelly stuff. Okay, which dog doesn’t?

To keep the tent as stink- and dirt-free as possible, give your dog a scrub or wipe the stink off before he’s allowed in the tent.

8. Bring a brush

The same goes for a brush. When he’s dusty, baby wipes should do the job. However, when he’s dirty, but not smelly, a brush can be easier than giving him a bath.

9. Consider a sleeping bag and/or mattress for your dog

I highly recommend getting a dog sleeping bag or at least a mattress for your dog if you’re going to sleep in colder climate.

But even for warmer areas, a sleeping bag or mattress for your pup is a good idea. These are made out of special material that dry quickly. Plus, their super light and can be stored easily.

If you’re not sure about it, make sure to check out my post about the question: does my dog need a sleeping bag?

10. Train your dog beforehand

It’s the same as when you take your dog hiking. It won’t be very fun if he doesn’t know any commands!

So, make sure he knows at least the basics before you take him backpacking.

11. Bring a first aid kit

Small injuries, such as cuts, can happen quickly. This is why I recommend you always bring a first aid kit. The things most useful are bandages, antiseptic and definitely a tick puller.

12. Bring a blanket to protect your tent

This is a particularly good idea for big dogs with big claws that might damage your tent. Just put a blanket on the tent floor to keep it protected.


Tent camping with a dog can be so much fun!

And if you’re well-prepared, you’ll have a blast, I’m sure about that. Just make sure you get a big enough tent, get all the gear and stuff for you and your dog, get your dog in shape and well-behaved and you’re ready to hit the campground.

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