We put a lot of thought into just about every aspect of camping, and for good reason. Proper planning can, in the worst-case scenarios, be the difference between life and death. A lot of the planning we do before heading to the great outdoors isn’t necessarily about preparing for life and death situations. A lot of it has to do with basic comforts. In the grand scheme of things, anyone with a bit of outdoor survival knowledge really doesn’t need all that much to survive, so a lot of what we pack comes down to comfort or simply making the experience a bit easier.
It’s easy to think about our own comfort, or the comfort of the human members of our family, because let’s face it – they’ll make their discomforts known, loud and clear. There are other members of the family, however, who can’t necessarily do that quite as easily. There’s a growing trend in the camping and outdoors universe, and it’s something that animal lovers are getting behind in a huge way.
Have you heard of dog camping gear?
That’s right, now Rover can enjoy the great outdoors with some extra accessories to boot, and it’s not all about comfort, either. We’re going to be taking a look at products that can not only keep your four-legged friends comfier, but also safer, which is the top priority. Most dogs love the great outdoors, and they don’t really NEED anything, they’ll amuse themselves chasing squirrels, swimming, and just being by your side as you relax and become the best version of yourself with the help of nature.
Our Favorite Outdoor Dog Gear
We’ll be going over some of the best products when it comes to dogs and camping. Are all of these essential things that every dog owner needs to rush out and order immediately? No, of course not. We’re not suggesting that you go and buy every single item mentioned in this article, but there are certainly some products here that are worth considering, depending on your pup.
Not all dogs have the same wants, needs, interests… they’re as unique as the memories you’ll create with them while camping. For example, if you live in Texas, you can skip the section about the best dog boots for snow but if you’re planning to go camping or hunting up in Canada during the winter, it might be worth considering!
Now, for all you dog owners out there (Or people with friends who own dogs that want to earn some Brownie points), let’s take a look at the best camping gear for dogs.
Best Dog Boots for the Outdoors
Winters can get really cold, and uncomfortable for dogs that aren’t used to that kind of weather. If you’re camping in the winter, and your dog gets soaking wet, they might have a tough time drying themselves and staying warm. Megipet makes a versatile pair of booties for dogs that are insulated, with a rubber bottom to prevent slips, and they’re water resistant.
They’re available in different colors and sizes, and are a great choice for any dog, but especially for dogs that might not be used to the colder weather in particular. Sometimes in the winter you’ll come across slush, and then at night it can freeze, so is your dog gets wet they’ll be freezing cold all night.
There are other styles of boots that mostly cover just the paws, but these ones are nice because they keep the entire leg warm, and prevent water from leaking in.
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Ruffwear Approach Dog Backpack
Hiking backpacks for dogs are a very practical way to be able to carry more supplies with you. Your pup can help carry some of the weight, and will be happy to do so just as long as you choose the best hiking backpack for them, something that’s going to be comfortable and practical without putting too much stress on them. They might not whine or complain if the bag isn’t comfy, or if it’s irritating them, because they’re so eager to assist you – so it’s up to you to ensure you’re getting something good for them, they deserve it for being such hard workers!
Ruffwear makes a great quality pack, and even just by looking at it you can tell it’s a lot more comfortable than a lot of the options out there. It’s a saddlebag style, and you can full up both sides with whatever you’d like.
Try to ensure that there’s an equal distribution of weight between both of the attached bags, and most importantly ensure that your dog is comfortable carrying the amount of gear that you give them, especially if you’re going on a longer hike.
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OneTigris Tactical Dog Vest
OneTigris also makes a great dog harness for hiking trips. It includes detachable pouches, and has a very tactical style to it. It’s more versatile and customizeable than the previous option, and still costs well under $100.
The pack features what the military and NATO Forces refer to as Molle on the pack or Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment. If it’s used and trusted by several Military forces, then it’s something you can ensure your dog’s safety and satisfaction with.
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Choosing a Seat Cover / Hammock for your Dog
There’s another product to think about before the camping trip even gets started. When you’re driving out there, you may want to consider getting a car seat cover, in particular the hammock style works very nicely. A waterproof hammock seat cover will ensure that your vehicle stays dry, and will allow your dog to comfortably chill out in the back until you get to your destination.
There are different styles out there, but generally they attach to the headrests of the seats in the front of the vehicles and the back of the vehicle, and they stop the dog from being able to get into where your feet would normally go if you were in the rear passenger seats. The hammock style keeps them up on the rear seats, and protects the seats at the same time.
You don’t need anything terribly fancy, this model by Solvit will definitely be able to handle the job. There are, however, some other styles that have sides to them, which would prevent water from leaking out over the edges, assuming your dog is soaking wet when they get into the car. However, for most typical usage, the Solvit waterproof hammock will be just fine.
It’s cheaper to buy one of these and use it once, than it is to pay to have your car professionally cleaned if the seats get covered in mud and dirt after a camping trip with your dog.
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Should you buy a lifejacket for your dog?
Not all dogs are naturally strong swimmers, and just like people can be overwhelmed and taken under by a strong current, the same can happen to a dog, even if they are strong swimmers. It’s a terrible thought. Just as humans who know how to swim should still wear life jackets while out the water, some dogs should, too.
Outward Hound makes an affordable and very well-reviewed option, which is adjustable to fit a variety of different dogs, and also available in 6 different sizes. Whether you have a tiny little pup or a massive hound, they’ll be safe and secure.
This lifejacket for dogs isn’t very bulky, it’s low-profile. It’s great for boating, if your dog hops into the water for a swim, so that you can easily pick them up and lift them back into the boat, which can be a bit of a concern. Dogs don’t really understand the dangers of a boat motor, either, so being able to quickly grab them and remove them from harm’s way is something you’ll be very glad you have should you ever need it.
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Tips for camping with your dog:
Whether or not you’ve taken your dog camping before, here are some tips and pieces of advice that you’ll want to keep in mind. Taking your dog camping can be a very fun and rewarding experience for both of you, but there are some things you’ll need to keep in mind, and not all of them are obvious.
- Your dogs are at a high risk for fleas and ticks while you’re camping, so plan to have them checked as you return home. It’s highly recommended to purchase a flea/tick repellent collar for your dog, it might not be 100% effective, but it’s better than nothing. A lot of times, camping and surviving in the outdoors is all about being proactive. Being adaptive is crucial, but it’s better to prevent something than to have to deal with it, if you have the choice.
- Pay attention to your dog’s mood and attitude. A lot of times, you can tell if something’s wrong by how they’re acting. But don’t let that consume your entire experience, either. Your dog probably will be acting different, and that doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. They may be acting different because they’re in a new environment, and the wide-openness and busyness of nature can be a sensory overload for a dog that’s used to hanging out inside or just being in the same neighborhood all the time.
- Make frequent stops on your way so that your dog can stretch their legs a bit, use the washroom, stay properly hydrated, and to get some exercise. All of these things will keep them in great spirits!
- Pack a first aid-kit specifically designed for your dog. The Humane Society has a great example of the things to pack and what to pack.
- Make sure you’re not overloading their backpack if you decide to enlist their help with carrying things.
- Don’t leave your dog unattended in the wilderness. There are natural predators out there, and if your dog isn’t used to being in that kind of environment, they might not act like their usual selves. You need to pay close attention for their safety. There are obstacles in nature that they might not be used to avoiding, or they may see a little critter and their instincts to chase it will take over. In any case, it’s your responsibility to keep them safe at all times.
- Make sure you clean up after your dog. The last thing the next hiker wants to do is to step in a pile of your dog’s dung and be forced to choose between drinking their water or using it to clean themselves up.
- Make sure your dog is leashed as a safe distance from your campfire. Make sure their leash isn’t going to get tangled up with anything, such as tent poles, a picnic table, trees, chairs, or anything else.
- You’ll need to bring a lot more water than usual, remember – you aren’t just packing for yourself, anymore.
- Don’t wait until you return home to check for ticks, either. You should be doing this periodically throughout the trip. The sooner you can catch those pesky little bugs, the better!
- If you choose to allow your dog to sleep inside the tent with you, you’ll both be a lot warmed due to the increase in body heat. If you decide to have your pup sleeping outside, make sure they’re protected from the elements and that they’re at a comfortable temperature. It can get surprisingly cold at night, so just keep that in mind.
Camping with your pet dog can be an incredible fun experience, but it adds a certain degree of difficulty that you may not be used to if you’re used to camping alone. Common sense will get you most of the way, having the right products and gear will take you further, and taking some time to plan and think ahead will seal the deal.
Just like there are humans who don’t enjoy the outdoors, believe it or not there are also dogs that won’t adapt well to being out in the middle of nowhere with you. Sometimes, it just takes some patience and an adjustment period, other times it’s just not a part of their nature – and that’s okay, too. But chances are you’ll both have an amazing experience, so pat yourself on the back for taking the time to ensure that they get as much out of the experience as you will.