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So you’re planning your next camping trip and now you’re wondering if leaving your dog in a tent while camping is possible? I was recently asking myself the same question.
Camping with a dog is a lovely, bonding experience. You’re together in nature, you’re really flexible, your dog is happy because he gets lots of action and at night you can both snuggle up against each other in a tent, could it even get more romantic?
The thing is, what do you do if your pup can’t go somewhere, like to the pool or shower? If you stay in a hotel or airbnb, you can just leave your dog there for a couple of hours without any concern. In a tent, it’s a bit different.
While leaving a dog in a tent while camping is possible, some precautions have to be taken. Especially in summer you should never leave your dog on the tent during the day.
Having said that, it can actually be a good idea to give your pup a time out from time to time. Especially when your hiking, camping and/or backpacking, your pup is up all day and can’t get as much rest as he usually would. So it’s important that you give him a chance to rest for a bit by leaving him behind for a little bit while you do something else, like wash the dishes, take a shower etc.
For a complete guide on tent camping with dogs, click here.
Most campsites have quite strict regulations concerning dogs. This means that they might forbid leaving a dog behind unattended. If you’ve taken all the precautions listed below and your pup isn’t vocal, you can risk to just do it without them knowing it. This should be fine if it’s just for a few minutes, like for taking a shower. To be sure, better always ask the caretaker in advance. If you want more freedom, consider wild or free camping .
Your dog’s character
First and foremost, a dog with separation anxiety will probably have a very hard time being left behind in a tent. I know that because Baloo suffers from separation anxiety. It works really well, once he got used to a place. Then he can relax fairly well and will sleep for several hours. In new places it always takes a few days for him to get used to it. Now imagine how this would be in a tent where you keep changing places, where all the smells and sounds might change every day. This would easily lead to panic. And even the strongest tent probably won’t stand for long if some panicking dog teeth start working on it! So in both your and your dog’s interest, I recommend not leaving your dog in the tent while camping if he suffers from separation anxiety. If you have to do something nearby, better attach him on a tree or something where he can still see you and you him. This way your tent will stay unharmed and your doggo relaxed.
Choose the right tent
So your pup’s perfectly fine when you leave him? Great, so let’s look at the next step: the right tent. Frankly, when I think of camping with a tent, I think of camping in summer or at least in warmer temperature, where it never drops below 41° F (5° C). So I’m thinking of a pretty light and thin tent that you can carry with you. But it’s actually also possible to go camping in winter, with a winter tent.
These are really sturdy and big because you’ll have a stove inside to keep it warm. It’s really more like a soft wall bungalow, I’d say. You definitely need a car to transport one of those or go somewhere where they’re already installed.
Given that they’re so sturdy, it’s definitely possible to leave your dog in there for a little while. Make sure that you put enough wood in the fire so that the temperature doesn’t drop too low. I recommend that you first try it out with the stove on for a few hours so that you know how much wood you need in order to keep it warm. If you have one with a generator, you also wanna make sure that it doesn’t get too hot. You don’t want your pup to overheat in there!
Have you ever been camping in summer and woken up to the first rays of sunlight? It’s lovely, isn’t it? But sleeping in isn’t an option. As soon as the sun starts shining on your tent, it becomes a sauna really quickly! I find it so interesting how fast it heats up. It can be rather chilly at night but with the sun coming up, it becomes unbearably hot almost immediately. So what does this mean for leaving your dog in the tent while camping in summer? Exactly, not a good idea!
It’s comparable to leaving your dog in a car. You can do it but only if you’re absolutely sure that the temperatures in the car won’t rise over 77° F (25° C). So even in winter I’d never leave my dog in a car in the sun! This can just heat it up in no relation to the outside temperature.
So for camping in summer, I’d only leave my dog in the tent once the sun has gone down. During the day, I’d rather attach him somewhere outside in the shade in your vicinity. This way he can stay nice and cool. Never leave your dog attached somewhere without supervision!
In case your pup is too big to sleep in the same tent as you, you can also get him his own tent.
Okay, so your pup is tired, doesn’t suffer from separation anxiety and the temperature is just right in the tent. What else do you need to think of?
Just like at home, always provide enough water for your dog.
Would you leave your dog in a tent where you know that bears are around? I certainly wouldn’t! Always check out the surroundings and make sure that there aren’t any wild animals around that could be a threat to your pup. This is especially important for small dogs who won’t stand a chance against a bear, wolf or coyote.
Also make sure your tent isn’t set up under a dead tree where branches could fall off (also in your interest).
In case your driving to the camp site, then it might be a good idea to bring your pup’s crate along. This will make it much easier to leave him in the tent because he surely won’t destroy it.
If you’re staying close by, it’s fine to leave him there for 2 or 3 hours, so he can catch up on some sleep. If you go out of earshot, I’d limit it to about an hour. A tent just isn’t as stable as a concrete house, so there are just a lot of risks that could come up. Even if there are no wild animals around, there could be a change in weather, other dogs coming up and trying to get to your pup or a change in temperature.
Alternative: go RVing
If you need more flexibility and want to be able to leave your dog at the campsite at all times, consider taking your dog with you on an RV trip. An RV has the big advantage that it will quickly smell like home. This should help your dog to relax. Therefore you can also leave a dog there who suffers from mild separation anxiety. Also, you can adjust the temperature more easily with the AC or heating on. So it’s really more like leaving your dog at home while you go to work.
Yes, leaving your dog in the tent while camping is possible, but not for everyone and not under any circumstances. I think leaving your dog in a tent for a few minutes to an hour is no problem, if the precautions listed above have been taken. But I wouldn’t do it for several hours, since tents aren’t as stable as houses. This means that unpredictable things such as the weather or other dogs can quickly become a threat to your pupper.
If you’re totally in the mood for camping now, make sure to check out my article on how to go camping with a dog.