Most campers sleep with their dog in the tent. This is the best option for the dog’s safety. It also keeps the dog warm on cold nights.
Depending on your dog and your camping setup, there are other options. Here’s a guide on where your dog should sleep when camping with tips on how to get him as comfortable as possible.
Where Is The Safest Place For A Dog To Sleep When Camping?
The best place for your dog to sleep when camping depends on the dog’s traits (e.g. does she have a thick coat to keep out the cold), health condition, and age.
It also depends on the dog’s preferences. Some dogs are more comfortable in a cozy sleeping bag while others would rather lie on a pad.
Whichever sleeping solution you pick, we recommend using it inside the tent. Inside the tent next to you is the safest place for your dog.
Many dogs can sleep fine outside if it’s not too cold and it’s not raining. But there’s a risk your dog will run after a wild animal or fall prey to a predator like a coyote.
You can leash or tether your dog to keep him from running off, but that leaves him at the mercy of predators.
That said, if you are in a campsite where you are sure there are no wild animals around, then you can let your dog sleep outside. Some campsites are fenced, so your pet won’t run off and no wild animal will get in.
Another advantage of sleeping with the dog inside the tent is protection from the cold.
The tent provides a safe and warm environment for your dog. It is especially crucial to keep the dog inside the tent during winter camping.
Tip: If this is your first time going camping with your dog, they might be nervous about the unfamiliar environment. Setting up their bed next to you in the tent will help them calm down and sleep.
Where Do Dogs Sleep When Camping?
You have plenty of sleeping options to choose from for your dog. The best solution depends on the weather, your camping set up, and what your dog is most comfortable with.
Here are 5 suggestions.
Dog Bed or Sleeping Pad
For most tent campers, a dog bed is what works best. Your dog is probably already used to sleeping on one at home, so they have no problem sleeping on it when camping.
Lay the dog bed next to you in the tent.
A dog bed also works great if you plan to sleep in your truck or RV.
There are different kinds of dog beds. The most basic ones are padded sleeping pads with a waterproof and tear-proof cover. Make sure you get one that’s big enough for your dog.
Another option is an elevated dog cot that’s ideal if you want your dog to sleep off the ground (Tip: because it’s more breathable, a raised cot is great for keeping your dog cool during warm nights)
Dog Sleeping Bag
Another type of dog bed is a dog sleeping bag. Your dog gets inside and you zip it up just like your own sleeping bag.
A sleeping bag is great for cold weather camping because it comes with a built-in cover. It’s also great for pups and dogs that love being snuggled in.
When shopping for a dog sleeping bag, be sure to choose the right size for your dog.
In A Crate
You don’t have to carry a bulky and heavy metal crate when you go camping with your dog. There are fabric crates you can buy designed for easy portability.
You collapse and fold the crate when traveling, and set it up when you get to camp.
Many of the dog camping crates you’ll find online come ready with a sleeping pad inside. So it’s ready for use.
Tip: To save money and space, get a multipurpose crate you can use to carry your dog in the car, as a pop-up kennel when you are at the campsite, and for the dog to sleep in.
In Your Sleeping Bag
Yes, you can sleep with your dog in the sleeping bag. This is not possible for larger dogs or dogs that get claustrophobic.
But if your dog loves cuddles and snuggling, your sleeping bag is perfect. It’s especially great for pups and small dogs.
Tip: Be careful not to overheat your dog. If they have thick fur or overheat easily, consider another sleeping option like a sleeping pad or crate where it’s more breathable.
In A Dog Tent
If you cannot sleep with your dog in the tent, the next best option is a smaller dog tent outside.
Your dog might even enjoy having their own private sleeping space. The dog tent can also work as a shade and play pen during the day.
The main concern with a dog tent is that you can’t keep an eye on the dog. If your dog has high prey drive or reacts to any noise or movement, they could wake up in the middle of the night and tip the small tent over.
But if you are sure your dog can calmly sleep through the night, a dog tent is a great idea.
It leaves you with more space inside your tent and you don’t have to worry about a dirty or wet dog messing up your sleeping space.
Can I Leave My Dog In the Car Overnight?
You may have considered letting the dog sleep in the car or truck either on a dog bed or on the seat.
This is okay if you are also car camping and will be in the vehicle along with your dog. You can monitor the dog and make sure the car is not too hot or too cold.
What is probably not a good idea is letting the dog sleep in the car overnight on its own while you sleep in the tent.
Overheating will likely not be an issue, but cold temperatures can be just as dangerous. And because a vehicle is a big metal conductor, it can get very cold inside. You may not realize how cold the car is because your tent will be warmer.
In addition, your dog may start to feel lonely all alone in the car.
If you don’t have space in the tent, a better alternative is a dog tent that you can set up right outside your tent.
Where Do Dogs Sleep When Car Camping?
If you are car or truck camping, the best place for your dog to sleep is in the vehicle with you. Any of the sleeping solutions for a tent also work great in a vehicle.
You can use a dog sleeping pad, a dog bed, a dog sleeping bag or let her sleep in a crate. If you are sleeping in a rooftop tent, place the dog bed or crate right next to your bed.
If your dog doesn’t like sleeping in the car or there isn’t enough space, the next best option is setting up a dog tent beside the vehicle.
Where Do Dogs Sleep When Hammock Camping?
For hammock campers you have three options:
- You can sleep with the dog in the same hammock. This can be a bit cramped though, especially if you have a large dog.
- You can set up a dog bed right below the hammock. This can be a sleeping bag, a pad, or a crate. Depending on your camping location and your dog, you can keep the dog tethered or free.
- You can set up a smaller hammock just for your dog next to your hammock or below it. Here’s how one hammock camper does it (starts at 9:27).
How To Train Your Dog To Sleep When Camping?
It’s important to get your dog ready for camping weeks before you take the trip. Don’t wait until you are in the wild to introduce the dog to sleeping in a tent or a sleeping bag.
Practice at home in the backyard. Show them that the tent is a safe place and you can even camp in the backyard a few times. Let them also get used to sleeping in a crate or dog bed.
Make sure they know a command for laying down and sleeping. If they don’t, train them before you go camping.
Once you are out camping, stick to the usual bedtime routine to help them calm down and sleep comfortably.
How To Stop Your Dog From Barking When Camping?
A dog that won’t stop barking when you are camping can be an annoyance to you and other campers. In situations where there are wild animals in the area, it can be dangerous for you and the dog.
Some dogs are just reactive and will bark at anything from bugs to swaying trees. If you have such a dog, consider leaving them a home.
Alternatively, train them to stay quiet. Do this by associating staying quiet with a reward.
Wait till they bark then tell them ‘Quiet’ in a gentle but firm voice (do not yell as that will encourage them to bark more). Once the dog stops barking, wait three seconds then give him a treat.
Over time, he will associate staying quiet with a reward. Soon you’ll be able to get them to stop barking with a command.
Tip: Check that your dog is comfortable and not in pain as that could be causing the barking.