Dogs make some of the best travel companions. Pups spread cheer, are almost always happy, and won't complain about your well-done hot dogs.
Traveling with a dog can be just as stressful as it is fun if you're not prepared. A lot of pet parents don't realize what a pup needs to be safe and comfortable in the great outdoors. Luckily, we've compiled a complete list of the "ultimutt" essentials and travel tips for dogs to make sure your pup is the happiest camper around!
At least two leashes
You're probably reading the heading, thinking, "Does my pup really need two leashes for a camping trip?" The answer is a resounding yes! Retractable and standard leashes both have their place when traveling with a dog, and it never hurts to have a spare should you break or lose one.
Standard leashes give pet parents more control over their dog, which can keep Max safe should they find themselves near wild animals or on unstable terrain. That's why dogs are required to wear a 4 or 6-foot leash at most parks. Make no mistake — retractable leashes are essential too! These give dogs more room to explore and are great for dogs that like privacy during potty breaks.
A hands-free leash is also helpful in parks that require a leash at all times. These allow Fido to stay by your side (and out of the pen) while you handle two-handed tasks like cooking or cleaning.
Children's socks may seem like a peculiar thing to take when camping with a dog, but hear us out! Sharp claws and rough paw pads can destroy your tent's nylon interior. A simple trick to avoid tent troubles when camping with dogs is to slip some socks on those pointy paws!
Dog-safe mosquito repellant
Mosquitos transmit deadly heartworm larvae, so make sure you're protecting Lucy from these biting pests while outside. Mosquito repellant is particularly important in warm, wet climates or after periods of prolonged rain. Avoid DEET-based products since these pose a health risk for dogs and other wildlife too. Instead, shop for dog-safe repellants at your local pet store or ask your veterinarian for recommendations.
What fun is the great outdoors if your pooch can't roll around in the smelly goodness? Be prepared for any mess Fido throws at you by keeping plenty of towels on deck. Leave the guest towels at home; you're going to need the old ones when traveling with a dog.
Airtight containers for kibble (and human food too!)
Airtight food containers are another quintessential component for camping with dogs. These containers keep grub fresh and prevent the food from attracting bears and other undesirable wildlife. Humans will often store their food in bear-proof lockers but forget to put Fido's away. Pet food can be just as enticing as hotdogs to unwanted guests!
Collapsible dog bowl
Speaking of food, your woofer will need something to eat out of too! Though any doggy dishes will do the job, collapsible silicone or waterproof fabric bowls are usually the most convenient options. These are a favorite of outdoorsy pups since they're lightweight and store compactly.
Sticks happen, as do mud, mats, and prickly burrs. If you're going camping with a dog, you'll need a grooming kit — especially if your pupper has long locks. At the very least, you'll need to bring scissors, a flat brush, pin brush, and some detangling spray or leave-in conditioner to help loosen any knots. Remember, roughing it doesn't mean your pup has to look "ruff"!
Biodegradable doggy bags
Doggy droppings can pose a risk to other animals since they can carry bacteria and sometimes parasites. Instead of plastic, opt for biodegradable waste bags that you can bury directly in the soil. Be mindful that human and animal waste can attract wildlife, so make sure you bury waste deeply in the ground at least 200 feet away from your living space.
ID tags and an easy-to-spot collar or harness
One of the best tips for traveling with a dog is to have the dog wear an easily-visible collar. LED light-up collars are great for this purpose, but brightly colored and reflective collars work almost as well.
Though pricey, tracking, "smart" collars, and GPS beacons are great investments if your dog is a flight risk. This wearable technology will allow you to see Fido's movements in real-time, which can come in handy in unfamiliar surroundings.
Having wearable identification for your pup is equally important. Make certain your contact information on your pet's tags is accurate in case you get separated.
Basic first aid kit
There's no way to predict an accident, but you can prepare for them. Even the most rudimentary supplies can prevent infection and keep your fur-baby comfortable if they get a scrape or cut while camping.
Your first aid kit may look different depending on your dog's age and medical needs, but these are the basic supplies you should keep on hand:
Dog-safe OTC meds
Towels or blankets
Gauze and elastic bandages
Thin cloth and tongue depressor or craft sticks for makeshift splints
Tie out and stake or zip line
A tie-out stake or zip line is very useful when tent camping with a dog. These devices aren't meant as a long-term solution for dog tethering, but these can keep your pup safe and out of trouble for short periods. Ziplines connect between two trees and allow more range of motion. Ziplines are usually a better option for stronger dogs that may pull up a stake.
Portable pen or fold-down crate
Keep a portable pen or fold-down crate at the ready when traveling with a dog. Many dogs view their crate as a comfort item and retreat to it if they get tired or antsy. Even if your dog doesn't typically use a cage, these can be helpful during transport or if your dog gets an injury and needs to be confined.
Doggy boots or booties
Doggy footwear is an underutilized camping necessity. Boots or booties can protect your canine camper from cuts, bruises, and burns due to hot pavement and rough terrain. Most dogs don't take to footwear right away, so you'll need to get your dog comfortable with them before heading off. Let your dog strut their new kicks in your living room a few times before hitting the trails.
A tarp and dog bedding
Tarps have a wide variety of uses when camping with dogs. They help keep supplies free of debris, aid in thermoregulation, and prevent abrasions and bug bites if your pup likes napping on the ground. Don't forget some cozy bedding where your pup can snuggle up at night. Specialty doggy sleeping bags or dog beds are great, but some thick blankets will work just as well.
Dog rain jacket
If your dog hates the idea of pooping in the rain, you may need to invest in a doggy slicker. Doggy jackets come in a million different styles. Some have removable linings, reflective strips, pockets, and handles, but the bells and whistles are just bonuses. When picking a parker for Prissy, the main thing is to choose a fabric that'll keep body heat in and rain out.
Would you honestly think of driving cross country with a dog and not bringing their treats?! Besides being a tasty snack, treats are a great training tool that can help lure Fido back if stray too far. Stick with dry treats that have a long shelf life like dog biscuits, jerky, and bones. These types of treats are lightweight and provide a quick energy boost when on long hikes.
Looking for a campground that will let Fido tag along? Check out our list of the most pup-friendly campsites in each state!