Camping with a dog

An informational “how to” story about camping with a dog named Fritz.

When camping with a dog it helps to view the world through their eyes. If it's their first trip they will be exposed to many things they've never experienced before.

Most dogs love to travel, ride in the car and stick their heads out the car window. Dogs love to go places with you… their best friend.

Four wheeling with Fritz. Vail, CO

Knowing your dog:

Before heading out to camp it's very important to "know" your dog. Most dogs get into a routine at home but camping breaks that routine. They will also encounter things such as "never seen before" wild animals.

Your dog will act and react differently than at home. Suddenly there are no boundaries or fence for your dog.

Keep in mind it may be a good idea to take smaller day trips to "break in" your dog to new surroundings, before heading out on a long trip.

Camping with a dog isn’t all that bad:

After a couple trips, the experience becomes a routine. I figure if I was able to master camping with my dad’s dog, then camping with a dog, a smaller one at least, will be no problem for you at all.

However, there are some guidelines you’ll need to follow to make the experience easier for you and not be a bother to the other campers around you.

It’s all about being respectful of your camping neighbors whether they are dog lovers or not.

But first, a little more about my dad’s dog named “Fritz”.

Every now and then I had to dog sit “Fritz,” for my dad when he went on vacation somewhere.

It also happened now and then that I needed to take Fritz camping with me.

(Fritz is no longer with us but, believe me, he will never ever be forgotten.)

Fritz was a 180 pound St. Bernard that had some "difficult" traits:

  • Un-neutered alpha male
  • Territorial
  • Overly protective
  • People aggressive (disliked men and children)
  • Dog aggressive (hated other un-neutered males and small dogs)
  • Powerful (tying him to a small picnic table was not enough)
  • Did not like to be alone
  • Great hunter (loved to chase all wild animals)
  • Selective hearing (listened only when he thought necessary)
  • Slobbered everywhere, on everything
  • Snored like a bull moose
  • Always found the deepest mud puddle
  • And, the best part… he thought he was a lap dog

I was only able to safely camp with Fritz because I understood him. He was very predictable in certain situations and I was always prepared because I was able to read his body language.

Basically you should know your dog as well as I knew Fritz.

Fritz was beautiful and cute, everybody always came running wanting to pet him! Unfortunately, Fritz rarely liked being approached by strangers.

If you know your dog is people aggressive, steer him clear of people at the campground or on hikes.

Spring time hiking & camping. James Peak, CO

A dog aggressive dog can also be problematic. Most dog owners love to see their dogs play with other dogs.

Fritz had no desire for play-time. He was always guarding, observing everything and waiting.

Therefore, I kept him under a watchful eye and two hands on a very short leash, always.

Some good ideas to stay on good terms with other campers when camping with a dog:

  • Keep your dog from wandering into other campsites.
  • Keep your dog from barking at all times. Lucky for me barking was one thing Fritz did not do!
  • If your dog is trained well enough to stay put when people with other dogs walk by, great! If not, it’s best to have him on a leash. Dog confrontations are stressful for everyone.
  • If you need to call your dog every other minute back to the campsite, maybe it’s best to keep him on a leash. Voices travel a long way in the forest.
  • Be a good dog owner, always pick up after your pet.

You may also be interested in reading about equipment to take along when camping with a dog.


Hopefully you've found the camping with dogs section helpful. By no means should the information be taken as gospel. I am not a dog trainer, veterinarian or any sort of animal expert. Although I do love dogs I am NOT a dog expert. I have never had my own dog, however I did spend a lot of time caring for and camping with a dog. Your camping with a dog experience will most likely be completely different than mine. Your dog is YOUR responsibility.

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