Everything You Need to Know When Wild Camping with Your Dog
There are so many great ways to spend quality time outdoors with your dog. Some of us might prefer a relaxing picnic by the lake, others might choose to go up a hill for that sunrise view above the clouds. Whether your dog is an avid hiker as much as you or you’re looking to plan your first backpacking trip together here is everything you need to know about wild camping with your dog.
It is very easy to get overwhelmed with all the options available when choosing the right dog gear. Let’s go over all the essentials and any extras you might consider bringing with you. Included at the bottom is a complete checklist so you can get started right away! We also included some general information to be aware of, like overheating and safety tips.
Sleeping arrangements depend mostly on the size of your dog and the time of year. If you’re going on a two-day trip in a mild weather and your dog is small in size, you might consider bringing him inside your sleeping bag and no extra equipment is required.
If bringing your dog inside the sleeping bag is out of the question your dog will need a sleeping bag of his own. During hot summer nights this might not be needed and sleeping pad will be sufficient.
You will also need an extra blanket or canvas to cover your tent floor to avoid it being ripped by sharp claws.
If your dog is the size of another human and would like a full camping experience, he can have a tent of his own! These are great to avoid extra mud in ‘human’ tent.
You can bring a separate water bottle and a bowl for your dog that he uses at home, however, it is best to carry a lightweight collapsible dog bowl. There are some great travel bottles with included water filters and space for snacks if you’re looking for an upgrade. Remember to steer clear of drinking from lakes and rivers.
For a short trip packs of regular dog food are more than sufficient. Make sure to give slightly larger portions than normal and don’t forget the treats! These will be well-deserved and appreciated. For longer than few-day trips consider buying dehydrated dog food to save storage space and avoid extra weight.
Leash and collar
Check your dog is comfortable being on a leash before the trip. Most places require dogs to be on a leash. If you hike in more remote areas there’s always a risk of running into wildlife. Especially in areas like Lake District or Scotland – sheep are everywhere! Even if you think your dog is well-behaved and trained you never know what might happen and there’s just too many unfortunate incidents experienced by local farmers. One of the other essential items to get is a night collar – that way you will always know where your dog is, even in the dark.
If you think a few hours of intense hiking will be enough to exhaust your dog’s energy you might be disappointed! Have a few of his favourite toys ready to grab or prepare to plan some extra playing time. Afterall, you’re both here for some quality bonding time!
Ensure to include essential information on the dog collar, including your phone number in case of emergency. Keep recent photos with a description to be available on hand. Keep your dog’s vaccine records and proof of ownership just in case. Having a microchip and/or tracking device is essential.
Your dog will need a first aid kit of his own. Include flea and tick preventative, probiotic to help protect wounds and pet wipes. If you’re going to walk on a rough terrain consider bringing dog paw protectors.
There are few extras that could make your dog’s wild camping experience one of a kind. Getting muddy at some point is almost unavoidable. If you’re away from larger water source there are some portable dog showers available or if you’re packing light, there are some great lightweight gadgets as well.
Complete dog gear checklist:
- Sleeping bag – available here and here.
- Sleeping pad – available here and here.
- Collapsible dog bowl – available here and here.
- Water bottle and filter – available here and here.
- Food and treats – available here and here.
- Night collar – available here and here.
- Leash – available here.
- Spiral dog leash anchor spike – available here and here.
- Poo bag carrier – available here and here.
- First aid kit – available here and here.
- Tracking device – available here and here.
- Paw protectors – available here and here.
- Portable dog shower – available here.
- Toys – available here and here.
Congratulations, the largest part of your dog adventure prep is finished. You have ticked all the boxes and bought all the necessary gear. However, before you leave there are few things to consider.
Testing gear and camp training
It is crucial to test out all the equipment to avoid disappointment in the middle of your adventure. If your trip involves covering long distances on foot, make sure to pack everything and walk around with the extra weight until you and your dog feel comfortable. See if there are any new textures or sounds that your dog might not be familiar with. It is always a good idea to have a trial camping experience. Spend a night in your back yard or even your own kitchen! Any day can become a great adventure with your fluffy friend.
If you’re planning a summer trip, be aware of possible risks associated with dog overheating. If you notice your dog has slowed down, started panting or gets disoriented, or in extreme cases collapsed or started vomiting – these are all signs for overheating. First, make sure to provide water and shade. If possible, soak the dogs body in cool water. Depending on the circumstances, consider turning back and going to the vet as soon as possible.
As a rule of thumb, always stay on path when hiking with your dog and be alert for wild animals. Always carry enough food and water, take breaks, and check your dog for injuries and ticks occasionally. Adhere to general wild camping rules and leave no trace.
The most important tip of all – enjoy the time spent outdoors! However big or small the adventure, your dog will thank you!