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Camping With Dogs: 3 Overland Insiders Share Tested Best Practices

Our Favorite Tips To Guarantee A Great Overland Adventure While Camping With Dogs

13th April 2022

Although it requires a bit of extra planning and consideration, camping with dogs can be equally rewarding for your pooch as it can be for you. The long car rides lead to plenty of time for your four-legged best friend to run wild and free in the great outdoors. The sights! The smells! The sticks! Whether your dog prefers sprinting along trails, cooling off in trickling streams or alpine lakes, or relaxing at camp, doing the extra work to bring your dog camping with you is well worth it.

That being said, there are some important things to pay attention to when camping with dogs. Always check the rules and regulations at each campsite, park or trail you visit. Backcountry, dispersed, frontcountry, Bureau of Land management, or National Forest land, rules regarding dogs and pets can vary greatly. Keep in mind that leave no trace ethics apply to dogs, not just humans.

Like us, every dog has their own unique personality, comforts, excitements and stressors, which, if managed with care, can result in a fun and safe camping experience for all. To ensure a great time with your dog, yourself and your camping neighbors, we reached out to a couple of our favorite pet-owners who also happen to have a lot of overland experience to get their unique insights and tips:

Tips from Nick of Differential Overland:

Camping with dogs is never easy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing. But it’s not easy.

From keeping them hydrated to preventing them from getting into things they shouldn’t (rotten food or animal carcases, poison plants, insect hives, etc.), having a dog along on your camping trip can be a hassle. But the joy of sharing a swim, hike, or campfire snuggle with your furry best friend is hard to beat, and is totally worth the headache of bringing a dog along on your camping trip.

I have one dog, Arlo. He is half Labrador, half golden and is 16 months old. Having camped with dogs for the last 15 years, I’ve developed a couple of tips for enjoying a successful camping trip with dogs.

Bring Their Dog Bed Along

It might seem obvious, but I haven’t always brought my dog’s bed along on camping trips. More than a place for them to sleep at night (they may not actually use their bed for sleeping at night and prefer to curl up with you), bringing their bed helps keep them reined in at camp. Having a comfortable and familiar bed to sit and rest is much easier than expecting them to hold still on a rocky or uneven patch of ground.

Pack Some Toys

Along the same line of logic, bringing some of your dog’s toys along helps distract them from getting into mischief out in the wilderness. Better to keep them entertained with their beloved toys than risk them getting into whatever weird stuff they may find in the woods.

Be Patient

Camping is great fun for your dog, but it’s overwhelming too. There are new sights and sniffs, which are exciting. However, new routines and surroundings can be stressful for them. The anxiety of being out of their daily rhythm mixed with additional stimuli can turn your dog into a creature you’re not familiar with (I don’t mean like a chimera or something, but a wackier version of your dog). So, be patient with your furry friend. They may act up or engage in selective listening (i.e. not listening). That’s OK, but be firm and consistent.

Watch as Nomadica Outfitter founder Josh joins Nick on a trip through Oregon’s outback >>

Karissa of Gon Dirtin’ Tips for Camping with Dogs


We’ve been very fortunate with our two dogs, Kyia and Stella. They’re easy going and very much look forward to outdoor adventures. Best of all? The two of them love being on the road. Here are a few of our favorite tips to keep your furry family members happy and healthy when they’re traveling on the road with you.

Stop for Stretches

Just like us, dogs need to step out and stretch their legs after a long time of being stationary. They may look comfy laying in the back seat, or their bed, but like us, they need to get their blood flowing. Plus, letting them run around wherever you stop is a good opportunity for a bathroom break as well.

Find a Doggy Spa

We normally don’t travel with any kind of shower system. On top of that, we also have two extremely curious dogs that absolutely love to roll in anything with a pungent smell. These two things together create on occasion, some very, VERY stinky dogs. We’ve found the best remedy to this is keeping in mind where self service dog spas are. These are the places that you pay a fee to use their dog washing facilities.
Another great option is to bring a portable shower system and biodegradable doggy shampoo with you. We now carry a shower system and shampoo, but also keep a very keen eye on where nearby doggy spas are just in case incredibly stinky situations arise.

Anticipate Dog Anxiety

We love to play with our dogs, take them on a solid walk before loading up the car, and give them some time to bask in the sun like lizards before embarking on a road trip. If we do all those things, anxiety during the drive will usually be at bay. With age, one of our dogs, Kyia, has become more anxious. What triggers it varies – a poop brewing, a bug on the windshield, a branch skimming the truck along the trail, a loud muffler back-fired while driving past us on the highway – there is a lot to be mindful of. Kyia is very much the protector of our home on wheels. When we start to see anxiety unfolding, we give her CBD or any other natural stress reducing remedy for dogs and do our best to comfort her back to a state of calm.

Follow the adventures of Lindbergh, Karissa, Stella and Kyia at gondirtin.com and @gondirtin on Instagram.

Camping with Three Dogs – Tips from Rohan from Off Road Oregon:

We have three border collies: Maggie, Jackie and Freckles. Camping with these three dogs usually means the following chain of events: exploring close to camp as we watch, dinner, then the boys put themselves to bed and Maggie settles down on someone’s lap for a snooze by the fire. While it sounds like a little slice of heaven, here are some of our go-to tips:

Keep A Clean Tent

Camping with three dogs means everything gets three times as dirty on a typical trip. It’s a known fact that dogs will find the dirtiest place to lie or roll and bring every bit of that detritus into your tent or camper. Anything you can do to have the pooch leave the forest floor outside the tent is a bonus so we place a mat outside the door to our tent. We have a tent with a large awning off the front and our ground sheet extends to the outer limits of this covered area which helps the process of shedding the foliage and mud/dirt. A mat, even a small one at the entrance to our tent is a key part of keeping nature out of our bedding.

Use Leash Runners or Off-Leash Camp Spots

We typically camp outside of developed campgrounds where dogs are required to be on leash at all times. One of the many benefits of doing this is we can let our dogs explore the area around camp. If we are worried at all about our dogs chasing animals, we put them on a runner in camp.

On a recent trip to Death Valley our camps were visited by kangaroo rats and desert kit foxes so each night we kept them on an elevated runner (the dogs, not the wild animals) strung above head height between vehicles. When we feel the dogs are ok to be off leash, we put illuminated collars on them so we can keep an eye on them.

Are you and your furry friends ready for an adventure? 

  • Which tip do you think will work best for your dog?
  • What have been your personal experiences with camping with dogs?
  • What best practices or pet-etiquette would you like to see other pet owners do while camping with their dogs?

Connect with us on instagram to share your personal experiences or suggestions!


Thanks to our contributors

Karissa of Gon Dirtin’

Karissa resides in Los Angeles where she is a full time automotive photographer. Karissa, along with Lindbergh and their 2 dogs, head out with their rig to slow down and escape from the fast-paced Los Angeles lifestyle, and immerse themselves in the great outdoors. You can follow their adventures at gondirtin.com and/or on instagram @gondirtin

Nick of Differential Overland:

Nick Jaynes leads Differential Overland, a cadre of overland-industry professionals based in Portland, Oregon-based who strive to inspire others to mount their own overland journeys.

Follow Differential Overland for regular expedition videos, vehicle profiles and walk-arounds, and maybe a friendly debate or two.

Rohan of Off Road Oregon:

Rohan Grace, an Australian who grew up off-roading, he is a member of two Land Rover Clubs and the founder of Off Road Oregon. Off Road Oregon provides self-drive guided 4x4 tours of Central Oregon and beyond, putting customers in the driver’s seat of one of their fully-equipped Land Rovers to explore all the breathtaking beauty Oregon has to offer: desert, volcanoes, forests, dunes and rivers. Their mission is to celebrate the peacefulness and natural diversity of Oregon and increase awareness of responsible off-roading.

Nomadica Outfitters

Nomadica Outfitters is an outdoor equipment store specializing in tools, gear, and apparel to address the challenges presented by remote off-road adventures. Our overland products facilitate simple fast setup, easy stowage, and are built to last - allowing you to spend more time adventuring and less time packing. Be curious, embrace the unexpected, explore, and discover the wonder that is planet earth.

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