Your dog is a member of your family – and what’s more fun than family camping? My dog and I enjoy all types of camping trips together, including tent camping, car camping, backpacking, and more.
Most dogs love camping, and bringing them along is usually no problem. However, they do require some special gear to stay comfortable and safe. When camping with dogs, where does he sleep? Here’s everything you need to know to keep him safe and comfortable.
5 Sleeping Spots for Your Dog
You have five different options to choose from. For most people (and pets), the first option is best, but the other options are useful in specific situations.
In Your Tent
Letting your dog sleep with you in your tent is my top recommendation. It’s the safest, most comfortable, and easiest option. Your dog is protected from harsh weather, wildlife, and other potential hazards.
Inside the camping tent, your dog can sleep in a few different locations:
- Directly on the tent floor
- In a dog bed
- In a kennel
- On top of or inside your sleeping bag
Additionally, letting your dog sleep in your tent can help eliminate any separation anxiety. Sleeping outside in an unfamiliar setting can make your dog nervous and even aggressive. He’s more likely to feel safe and calm when inside next to you.
Small dogs don’t take up much space inside a tent. But if you have a large dog, make sure your tent is large enough to accommodate him. As a general rule, a sleeping dog takes up about as much room as a person. For example, two people and a dog should sleep comfortably in a three-person tent.
- Allows you to know your dog’s location at all times
- Reduces separation anxiety
- Offers maximum protection against weather and wildlife
- Dog’s nails can tear the fabric
- Takes up space inside the tent
- Dogs can give off strong odors, especially if wet
A tent vestibule is a small shelter attached to the front or side of a tent. It’s usually made from the same material as your tent. While it offers some protection against wind and rain, it’s usually not a completely enclosed space.
Should your dog sleep in a vestibule? Only if the weather outside is calm and dry. Even then, the vestibule offers no protection against wild animals. Also, although your dog is nearby, you can’t physically see him when you’re inside the tent.
Personally, I don’t let my dog sleep in a vestibule overnight. But it does make a comfortable, shady spot for him to hang out and nap during the day.
- Increases space inside the tent
- Keeps your dog close to you
- Requires no extra equipment
- It might not protect against insects and wildlife
- Your dog isn’t visible at all times
Camping Dog Kennel
You can also let your dog sleep in a kennel. For outdoor use, you want a sturdy, metal kennel. It should also have feet that keep it off the ground.
Kennels provide protection against wild animals and insects. Plus, if the kennel floor doesn’t touch the ground, your pet will stay comfortable and dry. If you want your dog to sleep outside at night, I recommend a kennel over a vestibule.
On the downside, traveling with a large kennel isn’t always easy. They tend to take up lots of space, even when folded down. Also, you have to assemble and disassemble them every trip.
A more camping-friendly option is a folding soft dog crate or a tent for dogs. Both collapse when not in use to save space. Note that a crate with soft sides doesn’t offer as much protection as a metal crate. They’re usually best for use inside your tent.
- Offers the most protection for outdoor sleeping
- Sleeping in a kennel helps calm many dogs
- An above-ground kennel helps keep dogs dry
- Cumbersome to transport
- Dogs and wildlife can still interact
Your dog can sleep in a camping chair. Like a kennel, a camping chair keeps your dog off the ground. Plus, the padded cushions give him a comfortable place to sleep.
You’ll want a heavy-duty camping chair strong enough to support your dog’s weight. I use a chair that fits both my dog and myself, so we can hang out together.
Aside from camping chairs made for people, you can also find dog camping chairs. Elevated dog beds are comfortable, dry, and easy for dogs to jump into.
I typically don’t recommend camping chairs for overnight sleeping. They don’t provide any type of barrier against rain, sun, wind, or animals. On the plus side, they’re great for doggie day naps.
- The raised cushion is dry and comfortable
- Easier to transport than a kennel
- Special dog-specific options available
- It doesn’t protect dogs from hazards
- Fabric cushions don’t dry quickly if wet
In Your Car
Never leave your dog unattended in your car, even for a brief time in mild weather. When the weather outside is 70 degrees, a car’s internal temps can exceed 90 degrees. Your dog can quickly develop heat exhaustion, which can lead to injury or even death!
What about car camping? Personally, I only go car camping with my dog during the winter months. Also, I always sleep in the car with my dog.
Sleeping in the car does have some benefits. It provides you and your dog with maximum protection from weather and animals. If there’s even a remote chance of bears living in the area, I prefer the extra safety of my car.
- Requires no special gear
- Provides strong protection
- Dangerous for dogs to stay in a car unattended
- Only an option in cold weather
Which Dog Camping Bed Is Best?
Whether your dog is sleeping in a tent, kennel, or car, he’ll need a bed. You have several options:
If space isn’t an issue, you can bring the bed he uses at home. Not only do you know he finds it comfortable, but its familiarity is also soothing to him.
Inflatable Bed or Sleeping Bag
While the “home bed” is easy to transport for small dogs, a large dog bed is more of a hassle. Instead, you could give your dog an inflatable dog bed. They deflate and fold down for easy transportation.
You can also use an inflatable dog sleeping bag. They’re similar to a human sleeping bag in that they create a pouch. A dog sleeping bag provides more warmth than a regular bed, making them ideal for cold weather. On the downside, most sleeping bags only fit small-to-medium-sized breeds.
Many inflatable dog beds and sleeping bags inflate on their own. You attach a battery-operated device to the nozzle so you don’t have to blow them up manually.
Memory Foam Bed
Finally, consider a memory foam dog bed. It provides targeted support for your dog’s muscles and joints. Keep in mind many memory foam beds aren’t waterproof. If you want to use one when camping, even inside a tent, it should have a durable, water-resistant cover. Also, memory foam beds get pretty big, so they’re best for large tents or RVs.
A memory foam bed might seem excessive for a night or two in the woods. But many senior dogs and dogs with joint issues feel most comfortable on a memory foam bed. It’s especially useful for camping in cold weather, which can aggravate joint pain.
So far, I’ve covered tent sleeping fairly extensively, but taking your dog RV camping is also a great option. You’ll still want to give him a bed of his own, preferably out of the way. If your dog learns to sleep in his bed, you’re less likely to trip over him when walking around the RV.
Keep in mind that RVs are vehicles. The interior can quickly grow dangerously hot. Never leave your dog unattended in an RV unless the air conditioning is running.
Safety Tips for Camping with Your Dogs
Of course, your dog won’t spend the entire camping trip asleep. Keep him safe in the Great Outdoors by following these guidelines:
- Keep him hydrated. A collapsible dog water bowl and water bottle let you give your dog water no matter where the two of you go.
- Keep him rested. Dogs try hard to please their owners. They can exert themselves too far by attempting to keep up with you, so watch for panting, struggling, and other signs of physical exhaustion.
- Always use a leash. Even well-trained dogs can take off after wildlife. Never let your dog run free in the wilderness.
- Watch his feet. Consider equipping him with dog boots. They help protect his paws from rocks and other sharp terrains. Also, boots help protect ice and snow from becoming packed between his toes.
- Maintain proper ID. Make sure your dog’s leash has an up-to-date ID with your contact information. A microchip provides additional protection.
Finally, familiarize yourself with the basics of first aid. If an emergency occurs, you want supplies to patch up an injury so you can drive to a vet.
When camping with a dog, where does he sleep? Now that you know the pros and cons of each option, you can choose the best spot for his needs.
With a bit of planning, you can create a safe and soothing spot for your pup to sleep, whether in your tent or nearby. Together, you and your four-legged friend can head out to your favorite campsite and enjoy everything nature has to offer!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have more questions about camping with a dog, such as where does he sleep and what bed should you give him? Here are quick answers to popular queries:
Do Dogs Sleep?
Absolutely! Dogs sleep an average of 10.6 hours a day. Their sleep needs are similar to humans. Dogs like a comfortable bed, cool temperatures, and a quiet environment.
Some dogs grow restless when they have to sleep in a new environment. Bringing along their bed or favorite plushies from home can help them feel more at ease.
Is Leaving My Dog in a Tent OK?
Generally, I don’t recommend leaving your dog alone in a tent if you aren’t nearby. Tents can trap heat, which poses health dangers. Also, dogs can’t see out of a tent, so they can panic if they hear unknown noises.
I do leave my dog alone in the tent briefly, but I stay in the campsite the entire time he’s in there. I’ve found it’s helpful to put him in the tent while I’m preparing dinner so he stays out of the way. If you do need to leave your dog in a tent by himself, follow these guidelines:
1. Only leave him when the weather is cool and mild
2. Don’t leave him alone in an area with lots of wildlife
3. Never leave him for more than an hour or so
4. Always follow all applicable campsite rules
If you absolutely have to leave your dog alone for more than an hour, he’s safest in his kennel.
Does My Dog Need a Sleeping Bag?
Not necessarily. Many dogs will sleep just fine on an open bed. While a dog sleeping bag does provide an extra layer of warmth, blankets can also work just as well.
The main advantage of a sleeping bag is that it acts as a blanket and bed in one. It’s easier to carry if you’re backpacking or have limited space.
Can I Take My Dog Camping in the Winter?
You can. Many dogs love a good romp in the snow. A dog’s tolerance for cold weather varies by individual. Watch your dog carefully. If he’s too cold, he’ll shiver, lift his paws, whine, or otherwise appear uncomfortable.
Never leave your dog outside all night in cold weather. When camping in the cold, you need to let your dog sleep in your tent or car with you. Aside from his bed, give him either a sleeping bag or blanket so he can burrow inside for warmth.
Do All Campgrounds Allow Dogs?
They don’t. Check with the specific campground you plan to visit.
When camping at pet-friendly campgrounds, always follow the rules. Typically, you’ll need to keep your dog leashed, bag all waste, stop them from barking, and otherwise keep them under control.
Note that some campgrounds charge additional fees if you bring a pet. Also, they might limit the number of dogs you can bring at once.