Bringing a dog along for a camping excursion can be a fun and rewarding experience, for both you and the canine. Yet, dog owners unfamiliar with what to expect might wonder how their pooch will fare in a tent, whether you’ll be out there in the wild or in a supervised property.
Is leaving a dog in a tent while camping acceptable? To the point, yes, you can leave a dog in a tent while camping. However, for how long, or when during the day, it depends on the situation such as weather conditions, campground rules, whether you’re camping in the wild, or other circumstances that could threaten your pet or cause trouble for yourself.
First and foremost, never leave a dog inside the tent during bright, sunny days ~ especially if there are no breezes, and really especially if the dog has no way to escape the enclosed space.
Keep ‘Em Cool & Hydrated
Dogs as mammals are much like us humans in many respects, but among key differences is our fur. That is, they have thick coats of hair, while we do not. This means we can cool off faster as our body reacts and our skin perspires.
A dog trapped inside a hot tent has no options to cool down other than panting more. And, if the tent is very sealed including zipped-up openings, in time the little space could get filled with too much carbon dioxide which is unhealthy.
Dogs don’t have the cognitive ability to understand when they are in trouble from too-hot or poor air, and to accordingly open doors or windows. Not only can they not think to do it, but they can’t physically do it (unless they tear up what’s holding them in).
Being cognizant of heat (and the need for water) is the best advice we can offer in terms of keeping a dog in a tent at the campsite. Other than that, how a canine fares in and out of the tent during the overall trip also will depend on other factors including the temperament of the dog itself, and the camping environment.
One Key Thing that You Must Watch
As noted above, the one key thing to not do with a dog while camping is to leave your pooch in the tent during daytime hours. If you’re a good dog owner this probably doesn’t need to be said. It’s kind of like those bad people who leave dogs in cars while they shop, with or without a cracked window. It’s just wrong to do to an animal.
With camping, sometimes the decision could be taken out of your hands. Before you bring along Fido, research regulations for campgrounds you plan to stay in ~ most have significant regulations regarding dogs on their property.
In fact, they could outright forbid you to leave a dog at your campsite unattended, whether in a tent or not. Of course, there are those with usually quiet dogs who might risk sneaking away for a while with the dog in the tent. Don’t do it, not just because of the park rules, but because it’s poor pet ownership.
Some might ask, what about when showering? It may be okay to leave a dog tied up for only a few minutes when doing necessary tasks like bathing, but the best bet is to speak with the park manager or property caretaker beforehand. If the rules forbid it altogether, ask for suggestions.
If your thought was to let your dog roam freely the entire time, then you might look into free camping (also known as camping in the wild, or not in a regulated park).
These Things are Helpful to Know
Dogs Need Rest
Unless a camping trip is just a day or two, it probably is wise during each day to let your canine rest, especially in the shade. This might require being in the tent. If so, maybe invite him or her inside while you nap; often, dogs catch on and begin to nap too.
Think about camping with a dog: they don’t get all the rest they do at home. They’re more often than usual with you, actively walking, hiking, backpacking, visiting the lake, etc. They don’t have all the extra leisure time to rest at home like when you’re at work.
So pay attention when you have to do human things like shower or wash dishes and utensils; don’t just let the dog continue roaming or snooping … that’s just letting your pet waste energy.
What is Your Dog’s Composure?
Many dogs can suffer from separation anxiety if you lock them up in a tent, and how they react could depend on their personality or character. Longtime dog owners know canines can have distinct personalities, from the Whiner to the “Spaz,” Barker, Great Escapist, or any other way to describe a peculiar canine personality.
It’s wise to know these traits because if they surface dramatically at a campsite, it could cause trouble with neighboring campers, or just in managing the dog in general. If you must leave, if anything attaches the dog to a tree with a long leash, to at least let him or her roam a bit . (This last advice might help avoid damage to your tent).
Among safety precautions to take when bringing a dog on a tent-camping trip, two stick out: water and predators. It should go without saying that you should have at least one water dish filled at your campsite at all times, and if possible even more. This little tip is overlooked too often.
Next, think about where you are, and who might visit your tent. You might be afraid of bears, wolves or coyotes, but your dog, not so much. He or she might bark or whine when a predator gets too close, perhaps making the situation worse. And if you left your dog locked inside a tent, he or she could be a sitting duck for an attack.
If you choose to camp in a totally wild, primitive location, all food items must be tightly sealed up or hung from trees overnight, to not attract predators at night. Also, think about snakes …
Trouble does not have to come in the form of a wild predator. Other pets staying nearby, or even small children, or unruly adults, could visit your tented dog and potentially cause trouble.
Aside from being aware of potential animal threats, look up and around … make sure the tent is not underneath a large tree that could drop big branches downward, or too close to an unstable slope that might avalanche.
Dogs can react a lot differently than we do to atmospheric changes or phenomena. Lightning, thunder, very strong winds, or a sudden rain downfall can confuse or terrify a canine ~ and most veteran campers know that any of those things can happen on any given trip.
Not to mention if you have a leaky or unstable tent. The quality of your tent, and whether you have the right one (e.g. a “summer” or “winter” contraption) also can contribute to dog troubles while camping.
Pre-Camping Medical Advice
It’s probably wise to consult with your veterinarian before leaving home for your first camping trip with your dog and to ensure your pets are properly vaccinated against bites from poisonous snakes or other vermin.
Yes, indeed, it is possible to leave your dog in a tent while camping. In fact, there are times when you should try to get your pet some shaded rest time in there because camping for dogs is such an adventure they can wear themselves out physically and in terms of rehydrating.
The main thing to monitor with a dog and a camping tent is the heat. Never leave a dog zipped in or otherwise trapped inside a tent during mid-daytime hours, or even in all-day times if where you stay gets hot early and stays hot until dusk.
Additionally, be very cognizant of always having water bowls readily available all around the campsite, reminding the dog to drink up as much as possible. This is especially important in locations in high altitudes, where thin, dry air can suck moisture out of anybody.
But overall it could be quite enjoyable, to have your dog stay in the tent with you while camping. It’s a bonding experience for you both and should be quite the treat for your pet, after all. It’s not like they can sleep in your bed with you every night. Right?
Question: Is there a set amount of time in which it is okay to leave your dog alone in the tent?
Answer: No. Of course, it is a bad idea to leave a dog alone in a tent during sunny hours. Aside from that, it’s still not a good idea to leave your dog alone in a tent for an extended period, at any time of day. A general rule is no more than an hour if you go beyond a point where you no longer can hear noises from your campsite; and no more than 3 hours if you’re close enough by.
Q.: Is there anything special to bring along to help tent camping with a dog?
A.: Depends on where. Camping at the beach might mean wide-open spaces to bring special balls or sticks to throw for fetch. In woodsy areas, it’s different, of course. Think of something that doesn’t require a lot of space, like a pull rope.
Family Dog Expert Author
Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.