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  • Writer's pictureKern River's Edge Team

Top Tips for Camping with Dogs

How to prepare when camping with dogs

Camping with your beloved pooch can be loads of fun, while at the same time there will be moments where your pet may feel a bit of stress. Changes of environment, traveling in a vehicle, getting to a new place and becoming accustomed to the new area could prove stressful. Be sure to plan your travel route to include plenty of potty breaks while in the car and allow your pet time to get used to the idea of traveling. Here are some additional tips to help you prepare:

  • Schedule a check-up at the vet to make sure your pup is healthy to travel and is up-to-date on vaccinations.

  • Pack tick repellent in your doggie first-aid kit. Ticks are prevalent during warmer days and you will want to perform a “Tick Check” after hikes.

  • Get your pet microchipped. This is especially important if your dog is super curious and social. This is an easy way to know where your pet is at all times.

Always get familiar with the campground before camping with a dog

Each campground you visit will have a Pet Policy. Be sure to check the campground website or ask the staff ahead of time what their policy is.

For example, at Kern River’s Edge Campground Retreat, our pet-policy is:

  • Only one large breed per campsite, or two small dogs.

  • Pets are to be leashed at all times, using no more than a 6’ leash.

  • Pet droppings are to be picked up quickly and the poop bag is to be deposited in a central trash bin.

  • Pets are always attended by their human.

  • Our grassy Grove is not an ideal poop spot. Please look for less busy areas.

  • Unsocialized pets are kept at home, or checked in to a pet resort!

What should you pack when camping with dogs?

  • Dog food and treats

  • A bowl for dry food and water

  • Prescription medication, if applicable

  • Stake or tether

  • Extra towels

  • Dog first-aid kit

  • Outdoor-safe toys (rope chews, plushies and tennis balls)

  • A 6’ leash

  • Vet records and medical information; ID tag; current photo

  • Dog waste bags

Best practices for camping with dogs

Do a Test Run

If you have never taken your dog camping before or they are new to traveling and the outdoors, consider working your way up. A successful campout with your dog depends on your ability to keep your dog safe and under control while at your campsite. Some ways to prepare your dog for a camping trip include:

  • Taking longer walks: You can work on your dog’s on-the-leash behavior by taking it for long hikes each day and practicing leash commands.

  • Relaxing outside: Is your dog a hermit? Some indoor dogs have little interest in the outdoors, but that does not mean you have to leave them at home when you go on a camping trip. Help them acclimate to the outdoors by spending more time in your yard or on your porch.

  • Socializing with others: If you are camping at a pet-friendly campground, there will likely be several other dogs and pet owners camping nearby. Practice your dog’s social skills by taking them on a few playdates with other pups.

  • Have a backyard campout: Set up camp in your backyard and behave exactly as you would on a camping trip — keep your dog leashed at all times, spend time around a campfire ring and invite your friends or family to join in. Assessing your dog’s behavior in this controlled environment, will give you insights on whether camping is a good idea for your pet.

Plan Dog-Friendly Activities

Incorporate plenty of dog-friendly recreation. Some of the best dog-friendly camping activities include:

  • Hitting the trails

  • Going boating or kayaking

  • Exploring local water features

  • Enjoying an outdoor picnic

  • Playing fetch

Beware of Overheating

Dogs can get overheated in the sun, just like humans can. Dark-colored dogs or dogs with an abundance of hair will get hot faster than most. Combat overheating by keeping your dog in a cool area during the hottest part of the day and monitoring their behavior while on walks or playing. Always keep cold water accessible.

Being Courteous to Fellow Campers

Use a shorter leash to be respectful of other campers. This will prevent your dog from wandering into your neighbor’s camp site.

Keep your dog secure in your vehicle or tent at night. This helps keep your dog safe from wildlife (think skunk) and prevents it from barking throughout the night and disturbing other campers. Families with dogs who bark incessantly and disturb other campers will be asked to leave the campground.

Out on the Trail

When hiking, check Trailhead signs to ensure dogs are permitted on the trail.

Ensure dogs stay on trail, just like we humans need to. This will help to protect and preserve our wild spaces, as well as prevent exposure to ticks.

Now that you know how to camp with a dog, check out all the things you should look for in a Kern River campground.


Recreating responsibly includes packing trash bags to leave our wild spaces cleaner than you found them. There is a glass ban in the Sequoia National Forest, so remember to use plastic storage containers, ziploc bags, or bota bags for camping gear and kitchen supplies instead of glass. Practice Leave No Trace principles and pack out what you pack in. See more Kern River camping tips.

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