You're going camping with your dog, excellent choice! Your dog accessories are packed, and you have an awesome tent. You have sorted your transport and chosen the dog friendly location, but have you thought of everything? Did you check if dogs are allowed on your camp site? Are you wild camping? Will Fido miss home? Where do dogs sleep when camping? Can dogs sleep in tents?
Can Dogs Sleep in Tents?
Dogs can sleep in tents as they can adapt well to new sleeping environments. The tent should offer your dog shelter, proximity, and security. They may sleep with you inside the tent or prefer outside where it's cooler. There are also pop-up travel dog tents for a dog to have its own space.
As a company who preach about travelling with pets, it doesn't get much more outdoors than you, your pets, a tent and the wild. Fresh air, dog walks, lakes, campfires and just generally being out in nature is blissfully refreshing and makes a change from the computers, phones and tv's so it's a great idea to go.
If we look at the question with the aim of getting to a simple answer 'can dogs sleep in tents', then it's a simple answer, of course they can. You can just snuggle up with them in a sleeping bag or let them sleep down by your feet in the tent. But there is a bit more to this question than what first meets the eye.
Will they want to be in the tent with you? Will it be cool enough or warm enough? What happens if they need the toilet - do you bury the poo? Should they have their own sleeping bag?
We also need to think about temperature and keeping them cool or warm. Also, what about security, how do we keep them in the tent safe and sound?
Can we train them before they go so they are used to sleeping outdoors? There's lots of questions so lets dig in.
When Camping with Dogs, Where Should They Sleep?
Where should your dog sleep when out camping with you? The options depend on what you took with you, what mode of transport you used and how comfortable and confident are they without you. Let's explore all of the sleeping arrangement options.
- The car
- The motorhome
- Inside the tent
- Outside the tent
- In their own doggie tent
The car could be secure for your dog, but it is only secure if you alarm and lock it and put the windows up. It could get too warm when closed up and dogs like to move around which could trigger the car alarm to go off. Not only this, but if you put the windows down slightly and disable the alarm then how secure is it without you in there?
If you join them in the car then it probably won't be a great night's sleep for you unless you have a Jaguar XJ in which case it might be more reasonable than we would expect!
If you are lucky enough to have a motorhome, with you then we can assume you have a rather nice bed and setup in there. Forget the tent, get snug in the motorhome and enjoy the security whilst still being out in the wild!
Inside the Tent
You and your dog have gone to the effort of heading into the wild and putting the tent up. Embrace the adventure together inside the tent and get them wrapped up and snug with you and if it's a warm night let them stretch out by your feet and feel some of the cool breeze slipping under the zip door.
Outside the Tent
Some dogs may be fine with sleeping outside the ten however there are a few things which would concern me which I will list out.
- They could be stolen, and dog theft is on the up especially in the UK.
- Many dogs love to chase and if they see a squirrel or other little animal go then you might lose them too!
- It could be too cold outside and won't feel very secure to them. Dogs with a double coat may be fine but short haired dogs could get seriously ill if it is too cold.
In Their Own Doggie Tent
There are small doggy tents which will fit inside your tent to give them their own space. I think these may be better suited to smaller dogs, but I can definitely see the appeal despite never using one. I think our Frenchie would prefer to join us by laying on top of our sleeping bags!
How Do You Keep a Dog Warm or Cool in a Tent?
Keeping the temperature right for your dog when out in the tent will depend on the temperature outside. Let's take a look at a few different options you have.
If it is warm:
- Take a battery powered fan, even a small fan can make some difference to a dog laying in a tent.
- A cooling mat will be perfect for them to lay on. It keeps the belly and paws cool which will quickly bring their overall temperature down.
- The materials of things such as blankets and sleeping bags can make a big difference.
- A dog cooling vest will also help, at least until its bedtime and the weather drops a little cooler.
- Try to increase airflow through the tent, even if it means keeping the door just slightly open at the bottom.
If it is cold:
- Take lots of blankets and even some Ruff & Tumble-drying coats to wrap them up in.
- Dog jumpers and blankets will also help.
- Your body heat if you have them in your sleeping bag with you.
- Try to reduce airflow in the tent and keep all gaps firmly sealed and where possible place a fluffy large warm blanket down as much of the cold will come from the ground.
Where Does a Dog Toilet When Camping in a Tent?
Dogs will need to go outside of the tent to the toilet but what do you do if they need a number two? You could bury the poo as a last resort but if for example your dog is raw fed, or you are on private grounds this should be avoided. On private grounds there should be somewhere to dispose of dog poop in dog waste bins.
What if there are no bins?
Then you could try using dog poop bags to clean up the poo and use a large dicky poop bag holder until you find somewhere to dispose of it.
What Type of Dog Beds Can You Put in a Tent?
- You could use a dog crate style mat for something lightweight which they will stay cool on.
- You can use a hard plastic dog bed with soft cushion in if that is what are they are use to at home.
- There are lightweight, roll up nylon dog beds which are good for travel and best to use on warmer nights.
Alternatively, you can do the same as us and let them join you in any position they choose, usually laid across your face or with the legs kicking you out of your sleeping bag so they can get further in!
The most important thing is that they are with you. So long as they know they have their companion by their side they will be happy and feel safe and be snoring in no time. From experience of travelling in a motorhome (RV) with our dog Francis, we noticed he settled quickly and made it his home in no time. Dogs can be quick to adapt so long as they have their familiar humans with them.
Should Your Dog Sleep in Your Tent?
Different people will have differing opinions on this. However, you are on a site which is about travelling with your pets so for us it's not even a question. They are family, they need to be safe, they should be in your line of sight, they are your responsibility, and they should sleep in your tent. We will give you a pass if they are a trained Belgian Malinois and they are there to protect you, you wimp! 😉
If your dog is not used to the outdoors, if they are a handful, love to bark a lot and cannot settle then maybe sleeping in your tent isn't the best idea just yet. What steps can you take so that they can join you and sleep in your tent?
- Practice with them. Try putting up a tent in the garden and do not go in the house with them. Treat the exercise as a real-life event by staying out in the garden all day and then through the night and use treats, persuasion, persistence and stay calm to get them used to it. Don't try this the night before you go!
- Using natural pet calming remedies to settle them down if they bark a lot.
- Have a tie stake firmly placed in the ground with them attached to it but with plenty of give so they can still roam. If they bolt out of the tent, they will be restrained from running away.
- Take dog chews and familiar toys to keep them busy and occupied and to help reduce any anxiety of being away from home.
Train Your Dog to Sleep in a Tent Before You Go Camping
We briefly mentioned this before but it's actually quite important. If you want your camping trip to be successful and enjoyable then you need to put in a little training effort before you go. This preparation will pay off in dividends on your trip. Your dog will be as calm as can be.
Get them used to the sounds outside at night and reassure them as you will hear a lot of nature when out camping.
Try them with a Pet Remedy natural calming spray a few times before you go.
Setup the tent with them around you and make sure the tent keeps having the same toys, blankets, smells and treats in there so it becomes a pleasurable experience that they will welcome when you finally go camping together.
How Can I Keep My Dog Safe While Camping?
Safety is paramount when you are outdoors with your dog.
Use a pet tie in stake which will help keep them in place.
Use a crate if necessary.
Have a Dog GPS Pawfit Tracker on them so you can find them if they do bolt.
Keep the tent secure and finally ensure they have a Dog ID tag on with your contact details on it.
Dogs can sleep in tents and enjoy the outdoors with you. To some, it will be second nature and so long as they are with you it will be a breeze and they will be snoring away by your feet ready for breakfast and a walk in the morning. For others, it could be a barking marathon, rodent chasing nightmare and a cold night with no sleep for anyone. How can you prevent this? Just follow the steps we have mentioned and prepare, prepare, prepare and you too will have an enjoyable outdoor adventure.