The Ultimate Guide to Camping with Dogs

Camping with dogs, dogs sat in a tent

Camping is hard enough; everyone steals each other’s food, blow up mattresses deflate and all of the gear comes back caked in mud. Throw dogs intent on shaking mud everywhere into the mix and you have a recipe for disarray!

Of course, taking your dog (or dogs) can also be a recipe for fun. Muddy, chaotic fun. Nobody wants to leave a family member behind.

To aid your experience, here is our complete guide on how to take your dogs camping without losing your mind.

Let’s start with a handy checklist of things you might need:

·      Dogs (don’t forget those, or this whole exercise will be pointless)

·      Dog food

·      Dog tent and/or cage/crate

·      Car harness (keeps your dogs safe on the road)

·      Leads (short and extendable)

·      Water bowl

·      Poo bags

·      Wipes

·      Toys

·      Blankets

·      Collar with ID and lights

·      Dog stake + rope

·      Treats

·      Towels


That should equip you for pretty much anything!

So, you’ve got the gear, but if you’ve got the dogs, there are a few other things that you need to consider.

Here are our top tips for camping with dogs:


Find a Pet-Friendly Campsite

no dogs allowed on campsite

Not all campsites allow dogs, so check before booking anything!

Our Alton campsite welcomes dogs, so you’ve got nothing to worry about if you’re visiting Alton Water.

Click Here to Learn more and Book.

Let Your Dog Get Used to the Gear

Dogs in a car

This might mean pitching your tent in the garden before you go, so your dog can get used to the different smells and sensations.

This will keep him/her calmer when you get to the campsite, as they will be more comfortable in the environment, allowing them to relax and simply enjoy the endless ball games that camping has to offer.

Get A Vet Check-up

It’s definitely worth taking your dog to a check-up at the vets before you leave. The last thing you want is a poorly pooch when you’re in the middle of nowhere! 

Dogs also need to be vaccinated before you take them to see the great outdoors. This is especially true of puppies. Here’s a handy article on the correct vaccinations.


Pit-Stop When Travelling

Depending on how far you have to travel to get to the campsite, it’s a good idea to have at least one rest stop to let your dogs stretch their legs.

This also gives your dog a chance to relieve itself, but don’t forget to use your poo bags!

Some dogs can also be nervous travellers, so if you value your seats, you might want to have a quick look at this article.

Use a Dog Harness in the Car

Black dog wearing a harness in a car

Dogs need to be safe in the car just as much as humans do. This means fitting them with a proper dog harness, attached to the correct fitting points in your vehicle. In fact, failing to secure your dog properly could result in a £5,000 fine!

This is for your safety as well as your pooch’s, as an unsecured dog can become a pretty hefty projectile in the case of an accident.


Exercise = Quiet

Dogs love the outdoors, so when you’re camping with your dogs, make sure you get them out and about as much as possible instead of just tethering them to the ground next to your tent.

Not only will they have loads of fun, a long walk will also ensure a tired dog in the evening. That means less chance of barking and a happier campsite!

Personality Matters

There isn’t much point in bringing aggressively-natured dogs to a campsite. There will be a lot of interaction with people and other animals, and you’re not going to have fun if you are constantly trying to control your dog.

Camping is better suited to good-natured, obedient dogs.

Children are plentiful on campsites, many of which happen to love dogs. Consider if your dog is comfortable with children running up to pet him/her unexpectedly.

Pick Up After Yourself

Or more specifically, after your dog. Nobody wants to step in poo when walking around the campsite (or outside it, for that matter!). 

Pack dog bags and make sure you use them whenever you can. Not only is it the responsible thing to do, it’s also the law.

Pet-friendly campsites will often have specific places where you can dispose of your bags, so check with the staff when you arrive.

Don’t Overfeed!

It’s easy to get into the holiday mindset and slip the pooch a few too many burgers when camping. 

Not only is this bad for your dog’s health, they can also get poorly tummies, which means stinky dogs and unplanned toilet breaks!

Try and keep their diet as close to home as possible. A sneaky scrap of hot dog won’t hurt now and again though.

Towels Are Your Friend

A small and a big white dog stand in a puddle

Just like children, dogs love water and mud! You’ll be fighting a losing battle if you try and keep them away from it, so instead, you need to be prepared!

Plenty of towels and wipes are essential. You can always lay down some towels inside the tent after a walk if you’re worried about the mess.

On that note, if your dogs are the sea-faring type, make sure they aren’t drinking dirty water. That means stagnant or brown/murky water. Use your judgement!

Check Your Dog’s Skin After Walks

A woman checks a dog's fur in the woods

Ticks, burrs and plenty of other nasty things can attach themselves to your dog’s skin and fur. This is especially true after long walks through ferns, grass, bushes and so on.

Make sure you know where the nearest vet is and check your dog over after every walk. Ticks can be hard to remove completely by yourself, so it’s best to get professional help!


Here are a few ideas on how to keep your dogs (and yourself) entertained on or around the campsite.

Pack Some Toys

A frisbee and ball can go a long way in keeping you and your dog entertained. There is also the added benefit of tiring your dog out for the quieter evenings, which we briefly touched upon earlier.


A tiny dog carries a huge stick

Make sure you have a suitable lead and go for a wander! Dogs love to explore new sights, sounds and smells. You’ll also get to know the local area and a bit of exercise never hurts!

If you’re heading through rough terrain, it can be a good idea to put booties on your pup to avoid them hurting their paws.

If it’s cold, make sure you only go for a short walk to avoid your dog getting frostbite.

Equally, if it’s blisteringly hot, you’ll want to keep activity to a minimum so as to avoid heatstroke/sunburn. Make sure lots of water is available on hot days

Get Wet!

We hope you remembered the towels! Dogs are happiest when splashing about in the shallows, so take them to local beaches and streams.

It means more mess to clean up later, but a wet dog is a happy dog!

Go for a Bike Ride

Most dogs can't ride bikes...

Dog riding a bike


However, they do love to run beside you while you ride yours! Just make sure you take it slow if it’s their first time doing it, and take your dog’s fitness level into account.

Also, we know from experience that large sticks, dogs and bike wheels don’t go together well...

And there we go!

You should now be well equipped to take your dogs camping.


Fishing, walking, cycling, water sports

Our water parks not only bring vital water resources for the region, but they also provide a fantastic day out for all the family.

Whether you're looking for an action-packed day on the water, a spot of fishing to escape the stresses and strains of everyday life, or simply want to enjoy a relaxing walk in beautiful surroundings, look no further than our fabulous water parks.