Camping With a Puppy

Congratulations on your new puppy! Taking your puppy camping is a memorable experience that can help set your dog-owner relationship up for long term success.

Puppies are just as cute as they can be difficult and this can lend itself to unique challenges when camping that you won’t have when camping with an adult dog.

While there are many similarities in the gear and rules for camping with a dog, the puppy phase requires additional awareness and gear adult dogs do not.

Let’s break down these key differences and what they mean for your upcoming puppy camping trip.

Can You Take 8 Week Puppy Camping?

If your puppy is old enough to leave its mother, around 8-9 weeks, you can take your puppy camping. However, the younger your puppy is, the more aware, patient, and prepared you will need to be to keep them safe.

Ideally, your puppy will have all its vaccinations, medications, and training completed before you go camping together. Completing these tasks may take months and waiting that long before introducing your dog to camping may put you and your puppy at other disadvantages.

Vaccinations

If your puppy has not completed its first round vaccinations, you can still take your puppy camping if you work to keep your puppy away from risky situations. Please be mindful of the diseases an unvaccinated puppy is susceptible to and take extra caution when camping to keep your puppy from risky scenarios.

Larger breed puppies may be able to get all their vaccinations in one or two vet visits. Smaller puppies may need to spread their vaccinations out to three or four appointments.

Talk to your vet about which order to give your vaccinations to your puppy based on your area. Prioritize the vaccinations based on what your puppy is more likely to encounter.

Read about the benefits of taking your puppy camping.

Image by Maeva Delmas

Medications

Heartworm and flea and tick medications may be administered to dogs as young as 8 weeks. Aim to begin your puppy on these monthly medications before taking them camping.

Heartworm can be fatal for dogs, and mosquito bites are the most common way dogs contract heartworm. Mosquitos are present across the country during camping season. It may be difficult to keep mosquitos away from your puppy.

Fleas and ticks can live year round including in your campsite and hiking paths. Ticks can carry dangerous diseases, like lyme disease, and flea infestations are difficult to get rid of. Protect your puppy, and yourself, from these unwanted bugs with a flea and tick preventative medication.

You can put your flea and tick, and heartworm medications on autoship from Chewy.com. Flea and tick medication is also available from Amazon where you can save up to 30% on your first subscribe and save of pet supplies.

Deet and other human bug and mosquito repellants, including essential oils, are not dog-friendly. Do not use them to keep your puppy safe from bugs.

Image by Daniel Maas

It’s All About Puppy Right Now, Not You

The relationship between man and his best friend is undeniable, but your puppy isn’t there yet. The world is still new and exciting to them. Every experience is a first and your puppy will dive right in when camping.

Your puppy will be curious and likely get into dirt and interesting situations. You will always need to keep a close watch on them, and this may put a damper on your relaxing trip if you are not mentally ready.

Like life at home right now, your puppy is going to run the show when camping. You may not get to sleep when you want, or hike at the speed you’re used to. You may find yourself tending to the puppy often.

If you are prepared, you can use your puppy’s camping curiosity to your benefit. Introduce your puppy to new smells, sounds, and interesting things. Watch how they react.

Bring training treats and continue their routine and training cue words when you are camping so that camping and the outdoors are just as familiar and safe as home.

These training introductions will take up more of your initial camping trip together than you may like. Try to live each experience through the eyes of your puppy and enjoy this phase. Once they grow out of it, there may be parts you’ll miss.

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Puppy Energy Comes in Spurts, Not When You Want It

Puppies are known to fall asleep in the middle of playing and it’s adorable, but these sudden waves of sleepiness may come at a bad time during your camping trip.

Puppies sleep most of the day, usually around 16 hours a day, with spurts of energy in between according to Purina. These spurts of energy often last less than an hour, and may be as short as 15-20 minutes long. 

If you enjoy hiking or physical activities when camping, your puppy may get exhausted along the way and decide to suddenly take a nap. If so, you’ll find yourself hiking with a puppy in your backpack or arms.

Check out gear to help carry your pup

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Puppies Struggle to Keep Up

In addition to having unpredictable energy waves, puppies have shorter legs than adult dogs. Shorter legs may interfere with climbing stairs, rocky paths, and hills. They make it more difficult for puppies to enter and exit vehicles and RVs, too.

Shorter legs also require puppies to exert more energy as they take 2-3 times as many steps to keep up. Knowing your puppy is already likely to fall asleep during a hike or long activity, any elevation heights in your activities will further impact how likely your puppy is to fall asleep mid activity.

Check out gear to help carry your pup

Puppies Aren’t Well Trained

Puppies are distracted by new and exciting things and everything in the outdoors is new and exciting!

Puppies are not well versed in recall training, not to bark, or even trained in responding to their name.

This untethered curiosity will require you keep a closer eye on your puppy as the outdoors are more dangerous than your home.

From eating things they shouldn’t, to running after wildlife and pulling on the leash, your puppy’s lack of training will require you to step in and take action often to keep them safe when you are camping.

Recall Training

Recall is a strong training skill that is important when camping with a dog. Without the ability to recall your puppy, you may need to interject yourself to remove your dog from a dangerous situation.

Common wildlife like skunks, porcupines, and snakes that may naturally find their way onto your campsite may not be kind to a curious puppy. These animals can put your puppy at risk of being sprayed or getting hurt in a way that may require a vet visit.

Learn about camping gear that can help keep your puppy safe

Image by Iga Palacz

Puppies Are Not Housebroken

Dogs instinctually will not want to pee in their home, but puppies aren’t house broken yet. Puppies also don’t see your tent as their second home.

With this being their first introduction to your tent, the puppy won’t see a tent or your sleeping bag as a place not to relieve themselves. You may find your tent or camping gear has some unexpected puddles during your camping trip.

Try to retain your puppy’s home routine and schedule when camping to best predict when they may need to use the restroom and save your camping gear. If you are crate training your puppy at home, bring the crate camping with you until your puppy is familiar with the tent.

You can also bring an extra tarp for your tent’s floor, or add scotch guard to your gear to increase their water resistance.

Image by Jay Wennington

Puppy Predators

While most wildlife encounters are generally harmless, puppies have an additional predator humans and adult dogs don’t have to worry about- birds.

Birds carry off smaller wildlife, like foxes and fish, by attacking from the sky. Unfortunately, they pick up small dogs and puppies by accident from time to time.

Dogs of all ages, 15lbs or under, are at risk of looking like a bird meal and dog owners should be mindful when taking their puppies camping. There are a few large birds that can carry animals up to 20lbs.

Since most puppies are under these size limit at some point, it is important to note that additional predators when camping with your puppy until they are of a safe size and weight. Be mindful of moments when your puppy may be exposed to open skies or large birds.

Learn about keeping dogs safe when camping.

Puppy Camping Closing

Your puppy will be excited to explore the outdoors with you. They just need some extra time and love grow into the best friend you want them to be.

Here’s your complete guide to camping with your dog, and a full list of dog camping gear essentials.

The benefits of introducing your puppy to camping early are sure to pay off well over your time and bring you both a lifetime of amazing memories.

Happy camping, and sniffing, to you both!