If you’re thinking about camping with your dog, there are a number Of factors you’ll be considering, but one of the main aspects is safety; how to keep your dog safe and comfortable during your trip, especially overnight when you may not be able to keep an eye on them.
When you’re camping in a tent, dogs should be kept with you and sleep in your tent with you. Dogs should be kept on a lead at all times on a campsite, and this includes overnight. Either attach them to a spike or use a crate or cage of your dog is comfortable with a cage to keep them secure.
It’s not just overnight though. on average most dogs sleep for around 12-14 hours per day, and puppies sleep for around 18-20 hours. Dogs that have had a busy, or at least active day, will tend to sleep more. This means that dogs will need somewhere to sleep during the day too!
Preparation For Doggy Bedtime
At home, your dog will be used to their routine and probably be used to having their bed (or beds) that they can climb in whenever they feel like it. When we’re camping, it’s important to try to keep a sense of routine, just as you would with children.
You must be prepared for a sleepless night for the very first night, and maybe the first night of every camping trip. This is because your dog has a new environment to explore, new sights and smells grabbing his attention.
Expect some barking and growling as he gets used to the environment
When you’re getting your dog ready for bed at the campsite, do the normal things you would do with him as much as possible. If he usually goes out to the toilet, take him to relieve himself, if you both usually take a short walk, do that now so he is ready for bed.
Keeping a little bedtime routine will help your dog settle down and relax at bedtime, just as they would do at home.
Preparing your Dog’s Sleeping Environment
Camping can be a really fun experience for both you and your dog, but if you’re not comfortable where you’re sleeping, you’re likely to sleep badly. The same goes for your dog.
There are many different options when it comes to dog beds for camping, but they usually fall into two categories: beds and crates.
Many crates and cages can be folded up for travel, amd they can e a great option for dogs who are used to having a crate at home.
If your dog isn’t used to a crate or cage, it’s not advisable to try for the first time on your first camping trip. Spend some time at home getting him used to it before taking him and the crate away with you.
The second option is a camping dog bed. Just as with human camping beds, these range from the very cheap to the very expensive and range in comfort levels.
Some dogs may prefer a raised bed style camping bed, whereas others will be happy on a foam mat.
If you’re going to opt for the foam mat, we would suggest getting a warm and cool waterproof dog bed like the KROSER Reversible Dog Bed. These beds are thicker foam, water repellant, and have insulating properties to keep your pooch warm and off of the ground.
Of course, a comfortable bed wouldn’t be complete without a blanket or two!
Treat dog blankets the same as you would sleeping bags, ensure they never leave the tent and that they are clean and dry before bedtime. Nobody wants to be sleeping on damp blankets, least of all your dog!
One of the main concerns many dog owners have with camping is how to keep their dog safe and secure overnight when they themselves will be asleep and unable to monitor them?
We’ll say this right now before getting into the into:
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR DOG IN YOUR CAR.
You may think that leaving your dog in the car is the safest place for them, and in some ways, you may be right, but the risks outweigh the benefits.
The problem with cars is that they can get very hot very quickly, even in milder temperatures like those you would find in the UK.
You really have three options for dog security at night in a tent: a crate, a spike, a physical attachment.
For camping, a crate is probably the easiest option overnight, but as we mentioned above, crates shouldn’t be used with dogs that aren’t used to them or dogs that just don’t like them.
Spikes are a great option for most dogs. They are long metal screws that are secured into the ground and have a raised point to attach a lead to. Most dogs won’t be able to pull the spike out of the grand, and it will keep most dogs tethered easily.
For security, we would recommend a metal lead overnight if you’re using a spike.
My beautiful dog, Finlay, who passed away in 2017, was an angel on the lead 99% of the time, but if I wasn’t looking, he would try to chew leads! A metal lead means your dog won’t be able to chew through it while you’re sleeping soundly!
Your third option for ensuring your dog’s security overnight when you’re camping is a physical tether. These come in many forms but all will include your dog being attached by his lead to either something that doesn’t move (like a tow bar on a car) or tethered to you.
The tether method is the one I prefer.
All of my dogs walk on a harness and wear a half check collar along with their ID collar, overnight I’ll remove the harness and attach a lead to their half check collar and to a waist strap around my waist.
The tethered method has always worked for us and we have never lost a dog or had any other issues.
It’s worth noting that there is a risk with the lead overnight for it to get caught up, but for me personally, I believe this is the best method for us.
If you are worried about having a lead overnight, I’d suggest doing some crate training with your dog so you can use a crate while you’re camping with your dog.
Daytime Dog Bed
If you’re going to be spending time around your tents during the day, you’ll need to create a space for your dog to sleep during the day.
For the daytime, your dog’s camping bed will need to be in a shady space to keep him out of the sunshine, and somewhere that is easily accessible.
There are lots of options for shade, some camping dog beds come with a sunshade roof, but I personally don’t like these because my dog is a twit and will get his lead caught up in it! They are probably fine for dogs with more brains than mine!!
Another shade option is a pup tent. These don’t have to be dog-specific and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, I like the pop-up beach shelters because they are easy to put up and cheap to replace when my dog decides to jump on it!
A Note About Cooling Pads
Cooling pads and cooling jackets have become really popular for dogs over the last few years and for good reason, they can really help keep your dog’s core temperature stable during hot weather.
These come with a big caveat though: they only work when not exposed to direct sunlight.
If your dog has a gel cooling mat, you’ll need to make sure the mat itself is out of the sun.
I once had my dog’s mat on the floor and directed him to lie down on it which he refused to do. He is usually very obedient, so I went to move the mat and realised it was really hot. Testing with a thermometer, the cooling gel mat was over 40°C, far too hot for him to lie down on!
The same goes with cooling jackets, these need to be kept wet to ensure they are effective. A dry cooling jacket will quickly overheat a dog.
A better option for most dogs is a simple wet bandanna around their neck.
Never try to cool a dog too fast, don’t pour cold water over them as this may lead to shock, better to simply use a towel or other fabric, wet that and drape it over them.
This article from Battersea about how to keep dogs cool in summer is a great read for anyone worried about keeping their pooches safe in the sunshine.