Nothing gets you ready to pack up your rooftop tent and hit the road quite like summertime. And with the change of season, there’s no doubt your canine companion is feeling the same way. While the more the merrier is always our motto when it comes to getting out in nature, sometimes all you need is your 4 legged partner-in-crime.
It's no secret that dogs make amazing camping buddies, but camping with your pup can require some extra preparation—especially if it’s their first time.
Below are 6 tips for successfully camping with your dog for the first time. With a little preparation and patience, your dog will love sleeping under the stars as much as you do.
- Make Sure the Sites You Plan to Visit Are Dog-Friendly
There’s nothing worse than showing up at a campsite or hiking trail only to find out your pup isn’t welcome. Before you head out on your trip, it’s worth double checking that your campsite allows dogs.
Resources like Pet Friendly Travel’s website allow you to search for campgrounds that are dog friendly. You can also find out the rules for each campground’s facilities, trails, and other surrounding areas.
- Check in on the Status of Their Vaccines
No matter where you plan on camping with your dog, it’s important to make sure they’re healthy, up-to-date on their vaccinations, and protected against fleas and ticks.
Standing water can be hazardous because the bacteria often found floating around can cause diseases like leptospirosis. If you know your dog may start nosing around and drinking from still water, you may want to get them vaccinated before you hit the road.
It also never hurts to do some research ahead of time on emergency vets in the area when you’re camping with dogs. If something happens, you’ll know where to go to get your pup the attention they need.
- Pack the Essentials
To make sure your dog is safe and happy during your trip, we put together a packing list of commonly forgotten essentials:
- Extra dog food and water. Just like you, your dog will burn more energy than usual while on the trail or taking a dip in a lake.
- Portable food and water bowls. Ideally, bring a bowl that’s collapsible for when you’re on the trails. These 2-in-1 water bottles and bowls are also an excellent option when you need to pack light.
- A tether and stake. Give them room to roam safely without them wandering off or getting lost.
- Pick Up Bags Always pick up after them and Leave No Trace.
- Towels. From lining your car or tent to wiping them off after a romp in the creek, you’ll be glad you brought these along.
- A comfy dog bed. Either fit this in your RTT or keep it down near the campfire for relaxing during the day.
- Dog first aid kit. Items like Benadryl, iodine, liquid bandages, and tick remover are all smart to have on hand. You can purchase medical kits that are stocked with everything you’d ever need in an emergency. If you’re unsure of what to bring for your pet, check with your vet for tips and tricks.
- Gear for cold weather and rough terrain. If you’re traveling somewhere cool, make sure your pup is ready for the weather too. Not all breeds are made for the cold, so a dog jacket or vest may come in handy. If you plan to hike or camp in an area with rough terrain, don’t forget to pack boots or paw balm to protect your dogs paws.
4. Keep Their Stress at a Minimum
Even if your dog is generally well-trained and calm, they may still experience some stress on their first camping trip. No one knows your dog better than you do, so keep an eye out for signs that they may be stressed or uncomfortable.
If your dog responds poorly to thunderstorms and inclement weather, bring along a thunder jacket, weighted blanket, or anxiety medicine to calm them. Familiar items from home like their favorite toy or blanket can also help put them at ease in new surroundings.
As their owner, you are your dog’s safe space. Do your best to not leave them alone, and keep things relatively “normal” or constant for them while you’re out in nature. For example, if they’re used to a specific feeding time, stick to that schedule.
5. Don’t Forget the Leash
Many campgrounds require dogs to be kept on a leash or a lead. Even if your not at one of those campgrounds and you put in the work to train your dog to listen off-leash, it’s a good idea to bring one for a few reasons.
Without a leash or lead, your dog could be at risk of:
- Wandering into other campsites and bothering other campers
- Encountering a wild animal that isn’t as friendly as they are
- Getting lost
- Taking care of business wherever, meaning you won’t be following Leave No Trace guidelines
If you’re worried your dog may get lost or want to take a few extra precautions, have them wear a reflective collar or harness and add a sticker to their tag that has your campground location.
6. Help Your Dog Get in and Out of Your RTT
Car camping with your rooftop tent has a lot of perks, but there’s always one conundrum — how to get your dog up and down safely. Depending on the size of your dog and how easily they can be trained, you have a few options:
- Carry them up the ladder
- Hand them off to someone who’s inside the tent
- Create or purchase a dog ramp to get them in the tent
- Train them to walk up the ladder (though they’ll need help down)
Keep in mind that getting lifted 8 feet off the ground can be stressful for your dog. Avoid situations that may make them try to jump out of the tent, as they fall to the ground could injure them. Be patient and supportive, and give them lots of praise when they do a good job!
Make the Best Out of Your 2 Person Rooftop Tent
Car camping with your dog in a rooftop tent can be a blast. To get the most out of your camping trip, you’ll need a RTT that’s rugged, comfortable, and spacious enough to fit everyone. The Geo 2.5 is designed for you, your partner, and your favorite camping partner—your dog!
Discover why our 2.5-person rooftop tent is the perfect setup and how Intrepid’s flagship RTT will forever elevate the way you camp.