How to prepare for the first camping trip with your dog

Sean Whiting is a Director at Houghton Country. Here, he shares his top tips for taking your dog on its very first camping trip. 

If you’re looking to plan a fun and affordable trip that you can also take your dog on, a camping trip could be the perfect solution. But, if your furry friend has never slept in a tent or spent much time in the great outdoors, you’ll want to properly prepare so you can ensure it’s an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

To help you out, I’m going to share my top tips for preparing to take your dog on its very first camping trip. Take my advice on board and everything should go much more smoothly.


Choose the right destination and campsiteDog happy on camping trip

Before you decide exactly where to take your dog on its first camping trip, I would recommend coming up with a shortlist of destinations and researching each one thoroughly. You’ll want to ensure the area you settle on offers plenty of activities and walking trails that both you and your dog can enjoy. It’s also important that you check whether the local pubs and restaurants are dog-friendly — this way, you won’t have to worry about asking a neighbour to keep an eye on your pooch whenever you want to treat your family to a nice meal.


You’ll need to vet every campsite you’re thinking about staying on, too. You might be surprised by how many sites aren’t actually dog-friendly, and there’ll be some that allow dogs, but that mightn’t be the safest or most comfortable. Check each campsite’s website to get an idea of whether they allow pets and what kinds of facilities they have. Then look at independent reviews to see if other dog owners have had positive experiences. This will help you to make the best possible decision on where to stay. 


Practice in your garden first

If your dog has never stayed in a tent, or you’re worried they might be unsettled by the camping experience in general, why not get them used to everything by practicing in your garden? Whenever you’re enjoying your outdoor space in the lead-up to your trip, consider setting up the tent you’re planning to stay in. Then, give your dog free rein so they can explore the space they’ll eventually be sleeping in. You can even add their bed to make it clear that they’re welcome.


When you do finally set off on your adventure, it might be worth taking some of your dog’s home comforts, such as their food bowls and bed. It’s likely this will help them to settle into the trip much more quickly.  


Stick to their schedule while you’re away

If possible, it’s best to stick to your dog’s existing schedule while you’re away. So, they should still be sleeping and eating at the same time. As this is their first camping trip, there’s already going to be plenty for them to get used to, so giving them something familiar to hold on to will help to keep them as comfortable as possible.


Dogs looking out of tent on camping tripIf you’re going to be driving long distances, try to schedule stops roughly around the times your dog would usually be eating or going for a walk. Again, this will help to keep them happy, and keeping to their routine as much as possible will also make it much easier for them to settle back into their everyday life when you return home.


You’ll want to have the best possible first camping trip with your furry friend, and following these tips is sure to help. By choosing the right location, getting your dog used to the idea of camping, and keeping to their usual schedule as much as possible, you’ll help them to settle into campsite life as quickly as possible.