Know Before You Go Camping in British Columbia.  Looking to find winter camping?

Tips on Camping with Your Dog

Travelling and camping with your dog allows you to connect with nature and to your pet in a unique way and it means your canine gets to experience a new environment, one with sights and sounds it may not be used to. If you think your dog smiles when you go for a walk, wait for the reaction you get when he or she goes hiking!

Nonetheless, dog owners need to be prepared too, for as with any pet outing there are precautions to take and, at times, rules to adhere to. We all need to camp in a considerate and pet-friendly manner and respect our animal’s limits.

Here are some tips to help your dog’s camping trip be a safe and fun one.

Travel Time

  • If scheduling permits, familiarize your dog with the RV or tent before you set off camping. Do a trial run, even if it’s a drive around your city to a park or pitching tent in your backyard. Perhaps try a weekend away with your dog first before setting off on a week-long adventure.
  • Safely secure your dog while in the car or RV and, if in an RV, secure items within the RV so as not to fall and hurt or startle your pet.
  • Plan your trip according to your dog’s needs too. Stop regularly to allow for its bathroom break, to drink water, have a snack and stretch its legs. Be mindful with regards to busy or noisy rest areas which your dog may not like.
  • If possible, teach your dog to exit the car or RV in a controlled manner with a ‘wait’ or ‘stay’ command.
  • Should you have to leave your dog for a short period in a vehicle or RV, always verify that there is proper ventilation, shade and water at hand.
  • Try to make your dog’s travel area like a home away from home by packing its dog bed, blanket and toys.
  • Most importantly, reassure your dog that it is safe, secure and loved.

Health and Safety

  • Know how to access your pet’s vet info or have it readily available. Ask the campground about the closest animal hospital that welcomes emergencies or research this in advance.
  • Be attentive to your dog’s health and behaviour and be aware of its signs of nervousness, agitation or even fear.
  • Educate yourself about negative reactions that may occur from encounters with wildlife, plants and insects. 
  • Protect your dog against ticks, fleas and intestinal worms and consider buying a pet-friendly mosquito repellent. Pack a tick removal tool and dog shampoo, including a de-skunk kit or shampoo.
  • Bring along your dog’s medication, including an antidiarrheal and cleaning supplies and rags in case of accidents.
  • Allow for ample exercise and rest time for your dog. Make sure its sleep area is well-ventilated and it has access to water.
  • Remove any leftover dog food after mealtime and discard it or store it in a place which will not attract unwanted wildlife and insects.
  • Note that it is recommended that dogs not be taken into backcountry terrain; in fact, some parks do not permit it at all. Many wilderness areas are not suited to dogs due to rugged terrain, possible exposure to wildlife and potential run-ins with bears or cougars.

Campsite Dog Rules and Etiquette

Rules regarding dogs vary from campground to campground across British Columbia. Before leaving home find out from your chosen destination(s) what the pet policies are. 

Here are some common general rules and etiquette that campers are advised to follow:

  • Respect campground regulations regarding ‘no-go’ and on-leash areas and keep your dog under control at all times.
  • Do not leave your dog unattended at the campsite or inside the RV or tent unless absolutely necessary or unless it is well-trained to be on its own. 
  • Leash your dog while at the campsite for your neighbours’ sake and for its safety too.
  • Do not let your dog bark incessantly. Continuous barking can be a disturbance to both neighbours and wildlife. (If your companion is prone to barking at strange sounds try using a fan to mask outside noises.) 
  • Always pick up after your dog and invest in biodegradable dog poop bags. Dispose of the dog waste in appropriate trash containers.

Leashing tips

  • At the campsite, tether its leash to a sturdy dog tie-out, large tree or RV handle or try making a doggy zipline between trees for a designated leashed area.
  • Keep a watchful eye on your dog should the leash get tangled around tent poles, chairs, small trees, etc.
  • Keep your dog well away from the campfire. Be considerate if your dog does not like the smoke and move it out of the wind’s direction.
  • For smaller dogs, consider purchasing a portable dog pen. 

Shopping For Dog Gear

Shopping for a camping trip is always fun, especially when it’s for your pet! Would your dog appreciate these items on its pet packing list?

  • Hiking backpack 
  • Portable dog tent/travel bed
  • Doggy sleeping bags
  • Food travel bag
  • Portable dog bowls
  • Paw protectors/rain or cold-weather gear
  • Wipes and dog towels
  • Reflective vest and dog collar or light to attach to collar
  • Dog life jacket

Wherever you camp in British Columbia with your dog or dogs, make sure to be prepared to better enjoy your time together. 

BC Provincial Parks has parks and pets information on their website. Also, check out BC’s dog-friendly provincial parks.  

Blog: RVing with our Canine Companion – Preparing for Our Journey to the Okanagan, BC