Camping with your canine companion(s) can be a lot of fun, but only if you pack appropriately! In addition to bringing along all the items you'll need to enjoy your next RV or tent camping adventure, it's also important to consider what kinds of items and supplies you'll need to ensure your dogs' needs are also met.
Must-Have Dog Camping Supplies
There are a few core basics to always have on hand when you're camping with one or more dogs. Don't leave home without any of this must-have gear.
You may be required to show proof of your dog's vaccinations prior to being allowed to check in to some campgrounds. With that in mind, always keep current veterinary records with you when camping with dogs.
If you don't have enough dog food on hand, you'll be stuck with whatever you can find near your campsite. If you're in a remote area, the selection may be limited. You may not be able to get high quality or special formula (such as grain free, senior, or puppy) food. Some dogs react badly to sudden changes in food, even without special dietary needs.
Be sure to pack an unbreakable water bowl for your dog. Consider taking a standard-size bowl to use at your campsite or in your RV and a smaller, collapsible dog bowl that can be clipped to or tossed in your backpack for hikes and other adventures. (Note: Cesar Millan's website indicates that, on average, dogs need "between 8.5 to 17 ounces of water per 10 pounds" daily.)
Don't set out on a camping trip with your dog without a suitable leash. Consider packing both a retractable leash and a standard leash so you'll be prepared for a variety of situations.
The cardinal rule of camping with dogs is to clean up after your pet. Always have a supply of poop bags on hand to do exactly that. You'll need them everywhere you go - from roadside rest stops to trails to campgrounds.
Unless you want to have to hold on do your dog's leash at your campsite, invest in a tie-out to use at the campground so he has a bit of freedom to move around without breaking the rules or bothering other people. (Note: Never leave your dog unattended on a tie out. This is not safe and violates campground policies.)
Blanket or Towel
Unless your dog is used to sleeping without benefit of a dog bed or other soft surface, bring along something from home to use as a sleeping surface, such as a favorite towel or blanket. You can also use this item to shield the seat in your car from your dog's nails and shedding.
Items to Enhance Your Canine Camping Experience
If you plan to camp with your dog often, consider adding a few (or a lot!) of nice-to-have items to your collection of canine camping gear.
Outdoor Dog Bed
Consider investing in a dog bed designed for outdoor use. Whether you opt for a raised cot or a cushion-style bed covered in fabric, you can easily hose off after an outdoor adventure, your dog is sure to appreciate it!
If you plan to include your dog in activities like hiking, picnicking, or otherwise exploring the great outdoors, consider purchasing a doggie backpack. This will allow your pet to carry a few items during the adventure, including his own water bowl, water supply, and snacks.
If hiking will be a focal point of your camping trip, consider investing in a specialized leash like the hands-free dog leash. It straps around your waist like a fanny pack, allowing you to keep your dog leashed while keeping your hands free.
If you plan to take your dog out on the water during your camping trip, be sure to take along (and use!) a properly-fitted doggie life jacket. Whether you're going canoeing or kayaking or heading out on a fishing boat or pontoon, it's critical to make sure your canine companion is protected over the water.
Watertight Food Container
Consider investing in a watertight dog food container for camping. This is essential if you'll be spending time on or near the water, and it can also help protect your dog's food from the elements (and wildlife!) at the campsite.
Other Items to Consider
Take along other items your dog uses at home on a regular basis that would be appropriate for camping. For example, if your dog is accustomed to being crated, take the crate with you unless you are going backcountry camping. Ditto for any favorite dog toys that are made of materials that will hold up to outdoor use.