Tips for Camping with Pets

Disney4FunDisney4Fun Posts: 41Member
edited August 2011 in Tips & Tricks
We just got back from a short camping trip with our dog, Bear, and it was his first camping trip. We decided to take him with us, since we were only going to be an hour away from home. We figured, if we had any problems with him, it would be easy for me to bring him home mid-trip, then I could return for the remainder of the trip without him. But, he actually did quite well.

We are now planning another longer trip with Bear, so I would like to get some tips/tricks from you veteran campers that take your dogs with you. Obviously, everything is dependent upon the nature and personality of your animal, so what works for one dog might not work for another, but I think this would be a great place to share what works for you, so the rest of us can get some ideas of things to try.

Here are some specific questions/concerns we have:
  1. We found that Bear wouldn't eat much during our trip. He wouldn't touch his dry food at all (which he normally loves at home), and he would only eat a little bit of canned food. We spoke with several people who say they also have the same problem, so it seems this is a fairly common problem due to change in routine and surroundings. Obviously, like Clyde kept telling me, "When he gets hungry enough, he'll eat." On our next trip, I plan to take some hot dogs and other "people" food to mix in with his regular food as extra motivation for him to eat, since that seemed to help on our last trip. I'm also going to take more canned food than dry food. Any other ideas or suggestions?
  2. Bear did really well sleeping in the Paha Que 10 x 10 screened room, but for those single overnight stops where we don't want to hassle putting up the screened room, I'm not sure where Bear will sleep (even though we have the 6-wide Little Guy with the king size bed, I'm not sure Clyde will welcome Bear into the trailer with us). :-) I saw in another thread that LeaAnn has a kid's tent that her dog sleeps in. Did you do anything special to get him used to staying in that tent, or did your dog just take to it naturally?
  3. Do most campgrounds require your animal to be in a tent or trailer at night? If your dog sleeps outside, do you have problems with your dog barking at or trying to chase all of the "critters" that come out in the middle of the night?
  4. We were totally unprepared for keeping Bear tied up in the campground. Fortunately, I had grabbed three leashes before we left, which we connected together and clipped to a bungee cord we had attached to the picnic table. Any suggestions/recommendations for a good cable/tie down system that gives your dog enough room to roam, but still meets campground requirements? Most campgrounds I've looked at say the dog must be on a 6' leash maximum. I'm assuming this means when you're walking the dog, not necessarily when you're in your camp site? I would think you could give them more space at your camp site, bearing in mind the surroundings so they don't choke themselves or get tangled up, and making sure they don't have the ability to run out into the road or other public areas, right?
  5. Have you found that a harness works better than a collar? Bear managed to escape from his collar once during our trip, so at the very least, I know I need to get him a better fitting collar. :-)
  6. When walking Bear through the campground, I found that carrying a small folding camp shovel and a plastic grocery bag worked pretty well for cleaning up after him, but the small shovel was a little heavy. Any other suggestions?
  7. Any other suggestions or tips on making the camping experience more enjoyable/less stressful for pets?
  8. Has anyone tried taking any other pets besides your dog camping (ie cats, birds, etc.)?
Thanks to everyone for your help!

Linda and Clyde


  • Michigan_MikeMichigan_Mike Posts: 8,776Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2011
    I've noticed that my daughter's little peek-a-poo Mack does the same thing, as his appetite does drop off in a different environment then his daily routine at home.   I also think that dogs have to be conditioned for camping too as although they do like to travel with their owners, every encampment is a new and different experience away from the confines of home.   There is a lot of good information available on the net and here are some suggestions:

    • Conditioning - Set up the screen room at home or a mock campsite and get the dog accustomed to what he will encounter when out on the road.
    • Ticks & First Aid - Be aware of ticks too as occasionally we have a stray tick trying to attach itself to our dog and inspecting your dogs fur is important when camping/hiking in forest environments.  Take the necessary precautions to avoid ticks and be prepared for whatever first-aid that might be necessary for your pet too.  
    • Water/Food Location - I place Mack's water and food in the same spot (under the front corner of my 5-wide) on every trip.  That way he knows where to look and has fresh water available whenever he needs a drink. 
    • Food - I try to keep food under control and safely stored to avoid rodents, ants or wildlife looking for food at night.   When I eat I also put the dog's food down to encourage him to eat at the same interval.  He does the same thing at home and eats when I eat.   It also helps to take some treats like "Carry-outs" along and place a few in his dish at these times to encourage him to eat and it does work for me.  
    • Collars/Leashes - Most parks require a 6 foot leash to keep animals controlled.  If I do use the retractable leash I lock it in place and keep Mack at my side when walking in areas where people are camped or where they are walking around.  If you give your dog too much rope or have them on a retractable leash they can easily become entangled in tent stakes, poles, etc.  
    • Pet Waste -  I have a mesh storage container in the galley and carry a ton of plastic grocery style bags for waste pick-up and for campsite trash.  You could also buy a small pooper-scooper shovel that is used for felines too as that is light weight.  Otherwise the grocery bags work well, just inspect them to make sure there are no tears in the plastic and you are good to go!
    • Barking - My dog gets excited when other dogs bark and I stay on top of that and correct him and he eventually will calm down and gets use to the noise, people talking, other dogs barking, etc.   
    • Dog Tents & Pet Containment - Have never used one of these and I'd use caution in areas with venomous snakes, bears, mountain lions and other wild animals as you are risking the dog's safety leaving it alone and open to an attack.  I'm sure that these would be fine, but I'd check with park officials, ask about the animals and environment prior to arriving and take whatever steps are necessary to protect your dog.  If a dog tent is in order I would also throw in their pet bed or blanket from home and the scent will make this process a smooth transition.  I normally keep Mack inside the 5-wide with me and wipe and clean his paws off before he is inside.  Many states and camping areas do have requirements for housing pets, etc.  
    • Toys - Make your dog feel at home too by bringing along the toys they enjoy at home.  No doubt their routine is changed when we camp, but they still need exercise, still want to play and will also want to chew so be prepared and make them as comfortable as possible. 
    I'm sure that others on this forum will have some great tips as I think what works for me, doesn't necessarily work for the next person.

    Hope this helps!

  • jerry101jlhjerry101jlh Posts: 1,266Member
    We have taken our Springer once and over all she did well, did suffer on the eating and slept inside with us. Many places we camp have the kind of critters not dog friendly and I'd be hesitant to leave them out. Not sure I'd even leave them in the screen room.
  • Michigan_MikeMichigan_Mike Posts: 8,776Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2011
    We had a large western diamond back rattler mosey through the campsite out in Quartzsite and it does make you feel a bit uneasy knowing they can show up at anytime.   Just ask Mary Van as she was sitting in her chair sipping coffee one morning and the snake went under her chair, between her feet and on under her SS.  Even gave a little rattle as it exited her area!  

    That to me is a bit unnerving, scary and the reason I leave Mack home when I venture out west into the desert as you just never know.....   

  • jerry101jlhjerry101jlh Posts: 1,266Member
    Last spot we camped we had 6 varieties of poisonous snakes, raccoon, wild pigs, and bob cats. Fortunately no contact with any of the snakes, but did see one wild pig, several raccoon and had a bob cat nightly cruise by our camp just over the wood line. Our dogs might be able to take on a raccoon, but why risk injury to the dog to begin with. No way they could single handed take on a bob cat or wild pig and survive.

    If we were to take any of our dogs into an area like this, would always be on a lease and sleep with us inside the camper. But we wouldn't take them into such an area to begin with. My best advice is take a look at what critters might be in the area of interest and make decisions best for the pet. Honestly I love taking the Springer along, especially if we have the canoe as the dog loves to go paddling, but can also be a problem at times as well.
  • Disney4FunDisney4Fun Posts: 41Member
    edited August 2011
    Thank you, everyone, for your excellent information and ideas!

    We also live in the country with rattlesnakes, deer, coyotes, skunks, owls, and tarantulas. When we first moved here, we had a small fox and a bobcat both of which used to live somewhere down near the entrance to our driveway near our seasonal creek, and we also had several raccoons that would visit us at our back porch. A number of years ago when we had just gotten our white german shepherd, we were out in the back yard when a mountain lion came walking down the hillside about 25 yards away, it looked over at us, then (fortunately) kept right on walking down the hill and out across the road. Since we've had dogs, we don't see nearly as much wildlife as we used to.

    So, we are very aware of our surroundings, and would never want to expose Bear to the dangers of wild animals in a campground, especially if he's tied up and can't get away. I'm thankful we didn't encounter any bears on our recent trip! I don't have a problem with Bear sleeping inside the trailer with us occasionally. It may take a little work to convince Clyde to agree to that, though... :-)

    Paul, that's a good idea about picking up the poop in the plastic
    grocery bag and turning the bag inside out. Hadn't thought of that!
    Mike's suggestion about the cat plastic pooper scooper is also a good
    idea, and we might bring one of those along as a backup plan, just in
    case it's needed.

    Mike, Clyde had to chuckle at your comment regarding bringing toys along. Bear doesn't play with toys. His favorite "toy" is our cat Smokey. They play together all the time. Clyde says we are NOT bringing Smokey along too! LOL Also, thanks for the links - there's some good information on those sites.

    Thanks again for all of the great suggestions!


  • Michigan_MikeMichigan_Mike Posts: 8,776Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2011
    Hey Linda,

    Tell Clyde that he needs to do the math on the 6-wide....  Two feet for you, two for him and two for Bear!!!  :-D  Plenty of room to sleep and you have a fur coat to keep you warm in them California high country camp sites!  LOL!  :-D

  • jerry101jlhjerry101jlh Posts: 1,266Member
    Dogs have two favorite spots on their humans bed, at the foot or in the middle lol
  • Time_Out1Time_Out1 Posts: 473Member
    Mike, I believe your math is incorrect. Clyde = equals 2 feet, Linda = 2 feet, Bear = 4 feet! Our trailer is only 6 feet wide!!

  • Michigan_MikeMichigan_Mike Posts: 8,776Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2011
    I knew that'd get a rise out of you Clyde!  :-D    Not to mention that Bear probably doesn't like laying length wise.  ;-)
  • TinkerTinker Posts: 19Member

    A few years ago I asked my vet what to do about my dog not eating during camping trips. She gave me an idea tha have used for many years now; cook up a batch of plain white rice and freeze it in a tupperwhare container. When you feed your dog on the road take some of the rice and heat it up just a litle, then mix the rice in with their regular dry food. This has two advantages, gives them something tasty to help them want to eat, and rice is a good binding agent, which also can be a problem on trips. *smile*

  • footfairyfootfairy Posts: 1Member
    Hi everyone1 We are new to camping and are looking forward to going on our first ever trip (probably just down the road to a local campsite LOL. Just to iron out any problems before we get up the nerve to drive out a bit further!
    Has anyone been brave enough to take your cat(s) camping?
    ThOlivia and Laura
  • DeeDee Posts: 113Member
    We have a small Boston Terrier who is THE REASON we camp instead of staying in hotels...

    Here are a few thoughts:
    1. Have your cell phone number on the collar or tag.
    2. Have at least one pic of your furkid on your cell phone, for emergencies when you need to print out flyers of the beloved but wayward pet who just got off their collar or leash (our Boston Terrier would be three counties away before we could blink)
    3. Pets don't eat their normal food while camping (seems very common).
    4. I did see a couple who brought their cat and they walked him in an enclosed baby stroller :)
    5. The first few camping trips for any dog, you might expect a 3AM wake up call when they hear that possum strolling through your site. After that, they probably will sleep right through the casual wildlife going by.
    6. Have fun! Your dog or cat will !!
  • Michigan_MikeMichigan_Mike Posts: 8,776Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    Here is a link to an article from a woman who takes her cat camping.  Hopefully the link will work for you.

  • LindahunLindahun Posts: 20Member

    I have 3 small dogs that I take camping with me and we all seem to enjoy it. Each dog has their own cage they sleep in. I let the seat down in the back of my car and the cages fit in there. I have left the windows down, and put screen material over the windows. I just close the car door on it to hold it in place. If it's too hot for that, I sat up the screen room with the picnic table in it and the cages on the table. I park my trailer where I can see them, just shine the flashlight out on them if they bark.

    I have a led and one of those screw down things that goes in the ground for each dog. So I can tie them off where they don't get tangled up together.

    I bought poop bags from Dollar Tree that is in a small plastic container that fits on my belt loop. Also a bowl for each dog. My dogs don't seem to have a problem eating anywhere they go. Maybe that's because they grew up traveling with me and know they better eat, or it's do without.

    When I'm swimming at the springs, they are tied to my chair and usually sit on my towel. They know that soon as I get through, they get to go for a walk and swim at the boat ramp.

    It's hard traveling with 3 dogs, but I can't pick just one to take with me. Not usually.

    I have friends that travels with their cat sometimes. And have meet people that travel with birds. 


  • LyndilouLyndilou Posts: 39Member
    I just came back from a 10 day maiden voyage with my 5 wide and 5-year-old boxer, Bosco.  First night was a bit of a challenge.  He wouldn't get in the trailer, so I had to lift him... shove him in.  Also, he wouldn't potty in the campground.  Woke up to him panting around 12:30 a.m., so we took a walk.  The second night, we changed campgrounds, so I stopped by Walmart in Medford, Oregon and purchased a dog bed.  That helped him settle in.  The rest of the trip was a breeze.

  • glenn_cathyglenn_cathy Posts: 9Member
    Keep on taking mini excursions with your pup and soon he will be a camping pro as will you.  I guess I am just lucky!  Bentley, my shih tzu goes everywhere possible with me.  He has been tent camping and now goes in our 2016 [email protected] Max.  He thinks it is his house.  When people want to take a peek at it he insists on being in it.  When it is time for bed he tells me by heading for the door and will sit there until I figure it out.  If he has to potty he will head for the entrance to the campsite and just sit there until I catch on.  However, he almost never sits or relaxes on his blanket or bed.  Instead he heads right for all of the dried up leaves, twigs and dirt.  So I almost always have to brush him out before he can get in the little guy.  And when not sleeping at the end of the bed he sleeps between us sideways.  Is there any other way?  He almost never eats much while we are out for just 2 days.  But on day 3 his appetite kicks in a bit more. He seems to always know just how to wrap his lead between all of the chair/table legs, guy wires and what ever else he can find.  He loves to walk and loves to hike.  Yep, a Shih Tzu who thinks he is a lab!  My concern is that I am noticing that many campgrounds that have bears will not allow dogs.  Tahoe, June Lake, Fallen Leaf Lake and several others will not allow them.  
    :-((((  How does everyone else handle that?  Looking for a lake to put in the inflatable kayak, will allow Bentley on the kayak and camp for a week in California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Utah in September.  Does anyone have any suggestions?
  • Operafan49Operafan49 Posts: 95Member ✭✭
    Protecting our pets while camping is very important, but so is protecting the environment from our pets. This is especially true with cats. Anyone who has seen a domestic house cat stalk its prey understands why these often gentle and needy creatures are listed among the world's apex predators. Dogs are mere amateurs at this game and clumsy amateurs at that (no insult to dogs; they have other admirable qualities). I went through about four harnesses for my old cat before I found one that he could not slip out of. Glad I kept all of them because I am getting new cat and he/she will also go camping. The harness is securely attached to a 12-foot lead. The cat is never without them not is he/she ever left to its own devices. If I have to leave the campsite, the cat is locked up either in the camper or tow vehicle with plenty of food, water and ventilation. I just do not need a cat on the loose, a trail of  dead birds and chipmunks and an angry park ranger when camping. 
  • WildcatWildcat Posts: 649Member ✭✭✭
    So, these places that won't allow dogs if there are bears around, are they afraid the bear and dog will get into a row?  I'm sure there would be much barking.  Mine eats like always.  He's a laid back fellow, and sleeps in the trailer.  He's about 60 pounds.  He ignores dogs and their barking.  I tie him to the spare tire with more than six feet, but he just lays down and minds his own business and is better behaved than most humans.  We walk with a six foot lead.  He does want to wet down every bush where other dogs have been.  He gets sick when we are on a very curvy road, so I try to make some stops in between which helps prevent that.  It helps to skip breakfast, but he doesn't appreciate that, so I just don't get in a hurry.
  • LyndilouLyndilou Posts: 39Member
    The first night in my trailer with my 58 lb boxer... I had to lift him in.  Apparently, he's teardrop phobic.  The next day, I headed to Walmart in Medford, Oregon and purchased a dog bed for him.  Much better after that.  He was great in the campsite, though.  He's very laid back and just hung out.  
  • WildcatWildcat Posts: 649Member ✭✭✭
    Lyndilou, so do you have the dog bed outside?  Mine just wants to be as close as possible, so he likes the trailer bed.  He's not fat but elkhounds are a chunk, so I got him the step so he could get in without hitting his head or back. 
  • LyndilouLyndilou Posts: 39Member
    He was in the trailer with me, but I'm going to try him in the side tent in his crate. He loves his crate. I brought the soft-suded crate with me and used it around the campsite. It gave him a nice warm place to chill out by the campfire.
  • WildcatWildcat Posts: 649Member ✭✭✭
    I've considered a soft crate, because I don't have room for the other, and he's out of the habit of using one. He doesn't need a warm place, as he is always looking for a cool spot. If I can't take him to the restroom, I lock him in the trailer, and he's quiet and proper. I always see dogs not on leashes and figure people don't think much of them and spend half their life calling the dog. And woe to the person who tries to mess with mine. 
  • mtbnanimtbnani Posts: 8Member
    We did our maiden voyage in our 2017 [email protected] for a one-nighter at a nearby state park.  Previously we did a driveway camp and Sophie, our 60 lb. Goldendoodle slept with us.  She loves the TD!  Every time we are working on it, showing it off to friends, or packing it up, she wants in.  At the park, she slept with us but was a little restless.  We had only opened the top vent because it was pretty chilly out.  Sophie was panting.  Chris opened the side window a crack at about 2 am to create a draft and she settled right down.  We don't have a side tent yet. ($$$yikes!)  I'd like her to sleep there when we get one, but I'm not sure she will agree to the arrangement.  She likes the teardrop too much.
  • Michigan_MikeMichigan_Mike Posts: 8,776Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    mtbnani said:
    We don't have a side tent yet. ($$$yikes!)  I'd like her to sleep there when we get one, but I'm not sure she will agree to the arrangement.  She likes the teardrop too much.
    Just keep in mind too that there are potential predators out there (e.g., coyotes, mountain lions, etc.) where you camp, depending on the area of course and they view pets as snacks.  Always keep your pet in a crate if possible to protect the animal and keep them safe.  
  • LuckyJLuckyJ Posts: 90Member
    We travel around with an 85 lbs malamuthe female.
    -Eating as never been a problems with her or any of my 2 previous mal. She might eat less, but when she get hungry, she will eat her regular food. Dry kirkland, but with dry leaver pieces added.
    -Sleeping, she sleep with us in the bed at home, in my arb RTT, but not in my GF autohome.  So in this case, she would sleep in the car below us with craked open window.  [email protected] will be new to us, but we are sure she will want to be in with us. I will not let my dog sleep outside cause I know she will reacted to criters, other dogs wakling by.  I did not train her to be in a cage.  But she would sleep under the trailer, but in my nexk of the continent, we do not have snakes. But we like to have her with us. [email protected] will be a 5 wide outback.  I guess she will go in the feet corner.  We will see next week. :)
    -daytime campground, on leash about 10 to 12 feets but shorter when walking. 
    -colar, my dog used to be able to pull out of their colar, until I found one that as a limited chocker option.  It is a nylon belt colar, but as a loop with a steel ring where the leash will hook up.  You can adjust the fit around the dog neck and when they pull, it will tighten just enought so head is to large for the collar to go over, w/t chocking them.  But they are not that great if you dog is pulling when walking cause the band is too wide reducing control pressure.  But I have never lost a dog because of loos collar in 20 years.
    -dog poop, no need for a shovel.  Use any plastic bag, poop bag are great because of small roll convininece ans so small you can carry one or two in any pockets, insert your hand in the bag, and scoop the little pile with you hand, just pull bag side around the pile and you are set. Tie a knot and disposed.

    I have been traveling with my dogs for many year, and my real concern is not the camping portion of it, but more if I have to stop and get out of the car for a while.  She can do a couple of hours easy, but here, we do not have 95 + degree weather.
  • CountryDaveCountryDave Posts: 16Member
    My wife and I would travel with an eight years old Pomeranian, our little Mikey as we would call him. One great tip would be to keep your pet preoccupied, so as not to motivate them to howl just for the amusement of it. Have a ball or squeaky toy in hand. Also, have a few outdoor pet products ready, such as a pet sunscreen or a cooling dog jacket to keep your furry friends safe from the heat.  =) 
  • WildcatWildcat Posts: 649Member ✭✭✭
    I just plan never to leave my dog alone.  I have enough food and water for both of us, no need to go in stores.  If it's hot he stays home. His sister is too old to travel.  Too much dog thievery these days, breaking car windows to get at them.  I wouldn't take him to rattlesnake country unless it was cold. He loves being with me and in the trailer.  He stays on leash.  
  • ArfArf Posts: 20Member
    We travel with our 8 year old adopted cat, Pippi.  She does meow each time we set out but settles down on the lap of whoever is not driving and is calm and quiet.  At night in our LGM she roams, eats, poops and pees as needed.  Then she comes back to bed, usually sleeping on one of us as long as we let her, or tucked in between our pillows.  If it's cold she will get under the covers for  a while.  When we leave her in the trailer we make sure windows are open for air.  We found she can push right past the built in screens so we have portable sliding screens we always use with her.  Litter box and food and water go into the SUV for trips longer than an hour.  She is great company and fun to watch as she plays with toy mice and chases shadows and knows what.
  • WildcatWildcat Posts: 649Member ✭✭✭
    I once saw a couple with two cats that were just learning to travel and get out with harness.  They had a time with them.  Then once I saw people who let their cat sneak out the door and were having a horrible time catching him.  I hope they got him or her.  

    My situation has changed, have only one dog now, and I have to plan places to go when it isn't hot.  July and August are not easy in Oregon.  I shouldn't have done the July trip because the only space in the campground had no shade to speak of, but we survived it.  The fan just blew hot air.  Dog is a northern breed with double coat.

    Central and Eastern Oregon has rattlesnakes,  which I'd rather not see.  The October trip was pretty mild, cold in mornings, but warmed up enough for snakes to come out, so we didn't walk much. One good thing, my dog isn't interested in snakes. Most little places do not have a veterinary, and it would take hours to get to one.  I read that Benadryl helps for snake bites, then I read it doesn't help.  Then I read there are vaccinations to get ahead of time, but those are for diamondbacks, which kind we don't have in the Northwest.  Benadryl is good for bee stings however.

    The coast in summer is a mob scene, so reservations are needed for sure, but no poisonous snakes on the west side worth mentioning.   Some of the state campgrounds have nice walking trails, so dog and I prefer those places.  

    Wherever I'm going, before I go, I print off information for whatever veterinarian/s are closest just in case because an emergency is not the time to start looking.  The last trip, not only would it take two or three hours to find a vet, he was on vacation anyway.

    I have never had to deal with heat stroke, but have a sprinkler like thing that fits on a bottled water, and always have cold water in the cooler.

    Lately, I've been seeing a sling that hangs on your back so if you need to carry a larger dog that has been hurt on the trail, you can carry him hanging on your back.

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