Funny Dog Camping

Camping With Dogs Australia -
From The Beach To The Outback

Camping is one of the great Australian past times. We have such a wonderful landscape right in our backyard. Luckily, it’s an activity you can share with your four-legged friend too.

Camping with dogs doesn’t need to be dangerous or complicated. That said, we do have some specific challenges when camping in Australia that you need to bear in mind. The weather and rough terrain can present some very unique challenges to the novice camper.

This guide will lead you through absolutely everything you need to know if you are planning to camp with your dog.

camping with a terrier dog in the mountains

How To Prepare For Camping With Dogs

The best way to make sure that your camping trip with your pup is a success is by preparing them beforehand as much as possible. Here are four tips for taking dogs camping:

1. Make sure your dog is vaccinated and treated

There are creepy crawlies aplenty when you are dog swag camping. Before camping season, it is worth taking your pooch to the vet to check all vaccinations are up to date. You should also treat them for ticks and fleas. It is very common for ticks to attack your dog while camping.

There are mosquito and bug repellents you can purchase while you are camping to protect your dog too. Don’t use human mosquito repellent as it is toxic to your dog.

2. Acclimatise your dog to being outside

One of my dogs is a total homebody and the other is a wild adventurer. You can tell which is the better camping candidate. If you have a backyard, it could be work camping in the garden together a couple of times to get your dog used to sleeping in a tent.

Hiking with your dog is also helpful in acclimatising your dog to the great outdoors and all its quirks.

3. Plan your trip

Planning your trip in detail with any and all activities you intend to do with your dog will make you feel more confident. This involves:

  • Making sure you have the correct size dog camping tent
  • Saving emergency numbers for the campsite in your phone
  • Plan a route to the campsite that allows your dog to take frequent bathroom and rest breaks if it is a particularly long journey
  • Review the rules of the specific campsite you are visiting
  • Review the camping rules of the state you are camping in

4. Train your dog

There is some essential training needed before you take your dog camping. As part of basic camping etiquette, your dog should be as well-behaved as possible during your stay. The most vital training needed is recall and obedience training. 

“Start your training in a slow, low-distraction environment, like inside your house. First, show your dog a toy or a treat, praise them as they are coming to you, then reward them. After a few repetitions, whenever your dog looks at you and starts to move towards you, add in your chosen verbal cue (come, here, etc.). Make sure to only add in the cue when you are confident your dog is moving towards you.” -- Sassafras Lowrey, American Kennel Club. (1)

As your dog’s recall skills improve, you can gain more confidence in taking your dog outdoors.

Once you are comfortable with recalling indoors, you can try outdoors during walks and hikes.


Dog Camping Gear: Everything You Need

1. First-Aid Kit

A dog first-aid kit is essential for any camping trip but needs some extra attention when packing for your dog. You can buy ready-made first-aid kits for dogs or create your own. You will need:

  • Clotting powder
  • Saline
  • Gauze
  • Disinfectant
  • Cotton balls
  • Bandage pads
  • Bandage tape
  • Blunt-tip scissors
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Thermometer
  • Cold packs

2. Leashes

A good dog leash is essential for camping. Most campsites require you to have your dog on the leash at all times. Flexi-leashes are not advisable in difficult terrain because the line can snag on branches and rocks.

3. Portable dog bowls

You will need solid, durable vessels for your dog’s food and water. There are plenty of good options on the market that are lightweight and portable.

Related: Best Dog Water Bottles.

4. Water & food

You should always bring more water and food than you think you’ll need. If you are intending to be quite active with your activities and hiking during your camping trip, you need to have a large supply of food and fresh water on standby.

It is always better to have too much than too little!

5. Dog camping beds

There are beds that are made specifically for dogs to go camping! These are waterproof and insect-proof beds with thicker nylon linings than your average soft dog bed that you likely have at home.

They are made to protect your dog and provide the best level of comfort as your dog sleeps.

6. Towels

Even if you are not intending to camp by the sea, there are plenty of surprise lakes, rivers and puddles that your dog may want to jump into. If they do, you want to have plenty of towels on hand to dry them off.

7. Dog booties or socks

This is all about protecting your dog’s feet from harm from extreme temperatures or tricky terrain. We’ll dive deeper into this in the next section.

8. Grooming tools

While it is not necessary for your pooch to be the princess of the campsite, or even look vaguely presentable, grooming tools are worth having for a more practical reason than aesthetic.

With a comb, you can brush off small twigs and seeds that get stuck to your dog’s fur. You can sort out any matting or tangles right then and there. You can also more easily check your dog’s fur for fleas and ticks during your trip.

9. Dog sunscreen

Yes, dogs need sunscreen too. One of my dogs has fine, light-coloured hair and is prone to burning in the bright sun. Dog sunscreen is a godsend in the summer months.

Related: Dog Sunscreen Australia.

10. Dog toys

The thrill of the camp is not enough to keep your dog entertained. It is worth bringing some toys with you to keep them engaged. This could be a puzzle toy to keep their mind occupied or a simple chew toy for mellowing them out in the evenings. You can also bring interactive games like tug of war ropes.

We don’t recommend that you bring really small fetch items like tennis balls as they can easily get lost in the surroundings. Worse still, it could fall into a dangerous place that your dog follows to fetch. It’s an accident waiting to happen.

11. Poop bags

It goes without saying that when you camp in nature, you should leave it the way you found it.

Dog-friendly campsites will have dog poop bins for you to dispose of your pup’s leavings, but don’t count on them providing bags too. Have an ample supply of poop bags for your trip and take them with you everywhere.

12. Treats

Treats for you and treats for your dog should never be too far away. You are on holiday after all! A pack of your pup’s favourite treats can also help you entice your dog to stay close to you when you need them to.

13. Mosquito repellent

Unfortunately, there are tons of bugs around when camping. Mosquitoes are one of the more annoying ones that require constant attention.

Some dog mosquito repellent will protect your pup from bites as you sleep.


What Are The Dangers Of Taking Your Dog Camping In Australia

There are three main dangers to be mindful of when taking your dog camping.

1. Losing your dog

The most common and feared danger when taking your dog camping is that they will get lost. This is a completely valid fear to have. It would be irresponsible of us not to mention it!

There are so many variables that we cannot control when camping that the chance that your dog does get lost is higher. However, there are many things you can do to prevent that.

  • Take a printed photo of your dog with you. 
    In case your dog does get lost on the campsite, you can immediately spring into action, alerting others on the campsite and the authorities of what your dog looks like. 
  • Make sure your dog is microchipped
    If your dog is found, a kind stranger will likely take them to the authorities or a vet to have their microchip read. It is vital that you have a microchip and that the microchip is up-to-date. The registered information should be your current address and phone number. Double-check all of those details are updated before going camping.
  • Keep your dog on the leash
    In some campsites, you are not permitted to let your dog off-leash at any time anyway. But even with the places that do allow your dog to roam, it is best to keep your dog on the leash in most areas just for safety. If you have an area with a clear view and your dog is well-trained, you can relax a little more. Use your best judgment here.

2. Overheating/heat exhaustion

If you happen to go camping on a hot day, or even a warm day, your dog is vulnerable to heat exhaustion. 

“Unlike people, dogs don't sweat out excess body heat. While your dog does have a few sweat glands located in his paws, these do little to help regulate his body temperature. Instead, he does this through rapid, open-mouthed breathing, called panting. But sometimes panting isn't enough to keep him from getting overheated.” - Jean Marie Bauhaus, Hill’sPet. (2)

Because your dog has so few ways of regulating its body temperature, a hot car or inefficient temperature-controlled tent can cause problems. Long-haired and short-nosed breeds are particularly vulnerable. (3)

You know your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion if:

  • They are panting excessively
  • They are drooling excessively
  • They are disorientated
  • They are agitated
  • They have dry gums
  • They have a bright red tongue
  • They faint
  • They appear weak and restless

You can save your dog from heat exhaustion by:

  • Moving them to a cool and shaded area
  • Pouring lukewarm water over your dog (not cold as it may cause shock)
  • Allow them to drink water

If they start shivering or are not responding well to your remedies, take them to the vet immediately. (4)

3. Vulnerable paws

The weather in Australia can be quite unforgiving! Extreme heat and extreme cold can both pose hazards to our dog’s health. A particularly neglected aspect of this is their poor paws. In snowy conditions or hot conditions, your dog’s paws are vulnerable to injury. On top of that, in the outback or bush terrains, you have spiky twigs, grits and insects that can all pierce your dog’s delicate pads.

We recommend protecting your dog’s feet with dogs shoes in challenging terrains and/or extreme temperatures.


What Are The Rules and Regulations Around Camping With Dogs in Australia (State by State)

Camping with dogs in NSW

  • Dogs are not permitted to enter any national parks.
  • Dogs are permitted in regional parks/state parks and campsites if kept on a leash.
  • Some historic sites, such as Hill End Historic Site and Hartley Historic Site, permit dogs if they are kept on the leash.
  • If your dog is a registered assistant animal, then the above rules do not apply and your dog is permitted wherever you go.

Find out the latest information on the government website.

Camping with dogs in Queensland

  • Dogs are not permitted to enter any national parks.
  • Dogs are permitted in some state forests, regional parks, and associated campsites.
  • If your dog is a registered assistant animal, then the above rules do not apply and your dog is permitted wherever you go.

Find out the latest information on the government website.

Camping with dogs in South Australia

  • Dogs are permitted in some national parks, regional parks and their associated campsites.
  • If your dog is a registered assistant animal, then the above rules do not apply and your dog is permitted wherever you go.

Find out the latest information on the government website.

Camping with dogs in Western Australia

  • Dogs are generally not permitted in any national parks, regional parks or other nature reserves.
  • Some campgrounds allow dogs to stay if kept on a leash at all times.
  • If your dog is a registered assistant animal, then the above rules do not apply and your dog is permitted wherever you go.

Find out the latest information on the government website.

Camping with dogs in the Northern Territory

  • Dogs are not permitted in most nature reserves and parks in Northern Territory.
  • There are a few exceptions.
  • If your dog is a registered assistant animal, then the above rules do not apply and your dog is permitted wherever you go.

Find out the latest information on this information sheet.

Camping with dogs in Victoria

  • Dogs are not permitted in most national parks in Victoria, except for Great Otway National Park.
  • Many reserves and parks allow dogs in Victoria.
  • If your dog is a registered assistant animal, then the above rules do not apply and your dog is permitted wherever you go.

Find out the latest information on the government website.

Camping with dogs in Tasmania

  • If you plan to camp with your dog in Tasmania, they need to be treated for hydatid tapeworm.
  • Dogs are not permitted in national parks.
  • Many reserves and recreational parks allow dogs.
  • If your dog is a registered assistant animal, then the above rules do not apply and your dog is permitted wherever you go.

Find out the latest information on the government website.

Camping with dogs in ACT

  • Dogs are permitted in most national parks, reserves and recreational parks

Find out the latest information on the government website.


Beach Camping With Dogs

beach camping with dogs

Beach camping is one of the easier forms of camping with dogs. Why? The landscape is flat and open. There are fewer wildlife risks (apart from marine life). Beach campgrounds are also far more likely to be dog-friendly than other campsites in Australia.

That said, ensure that your dog is a strong swimmer if you want to go in the water with them. Also read the campsite guidelines carefully. Being by the sea does not necessarily mean that you can let your dog off leash.

What to Pack for Camping at the Beach

  • Doggy sunscreen 
    There is very little to no shade at the beach. So sun exposure and heat stroke are more likely to happen. Be sure to pack some sunscreen for your dog to protect delicate noses and bellies.
  • Beach umbrella
    Speaking of exposure, it may even be worth bringing your own shelter. A small beach umbrella is not too expensive. It will be a valuable purchase if you intend to camp at the beach frequently.
  • Quick-drying towels
    Quick-drying towels are essential for beach camping. You can speedily dry off your dog and know that it will be dry again in record time. These towels tend to be lightweight, soft and super absorbent.

Wildlife You Need To Watch Out For

  • Sea snakes 
    These are highly venomous snakes that are actually quite docile. They are mostly found in the open ocean but occasionally come to shore. Your dog should be fine unless they step on one and disrupt its peace!
  • Jellyfish
    You are likely to see jellyfish around the coastlines and we all know the damage they can cause! Box jellies in particular are frightening. Keep your dog well away from them.
  • Sharks
    As we all know, there are several species of shark native to Australian waters. We drew the short straw. The way to avoid them is to choose campsites with safe waters above all else. Also, ensure that your dog only paddles or plays on the sand. Don’t let them swim out into the open sea.

Pros of Camping at The Beach

  • It is a relaxing atmosphere
  • You have a lot of space
  • There is a wide variety of beach campgrounds in Australia

Cons of Camping at The Beach

  • The sealife can be difficult to protect your dog from
  • There is little shade

Best Locations for Beach Camping With Dogs in Australia


Bush Camping With Dogs

Bush camping with dogs

Bush camping is for intermediate campers. It has some wildlife risks and more bugs than the beach.

However, it is not as exposed to the elements as outback camping would be. You are also likely to have a better network signal (not a good signal - just better than the Outback!).

What to Pack for Bush Camping

  • Flea/Tick collars
    Fleas and ticks thrive in the bush! They blend into their surrounding so expertly and wait for their next host to latch onto. Luckily it is a simple fix to put a flea or tick collar on your dog while you are bush camping.
  • Snakebite kit
    It is worth packing a snake bite kit in your emergency pack. Many snakes found in the bush are quite harmless and peaceful, but you can never be too careful.
  • Water filtration kit
    If there is still water or a lake nearby, have a filtration kit handy to make it safe to drink. Don’t allow your do to drink from still sitting puddles as they may have insect eggs in them - yuck!

Wildlife You Need To Watch Out For

  • Bull ants
    You’ll be glad to hear that bush wildlife is slightly more...manageable than the Outback or the sea. The humble bull ant is a good example. These red ants do sting, but they won’t cause more harm than a bee sting. Still, it will be unpleasant if your dog falls victim to one.
  • Ticks
    Ticks are the bloodsuckers that are deceptively difficult to spot. They camouflage themselves beautifully. Because they thrive in bush environments, that flea and tick collar is going to come in handy. Regardless, use your fingers to inspect your dog’s fur regularly while you are camping.
  • Snakes
    We’ll talk more about snakes in the outback section because they are far more prevalent there. The snakes found in the bush are usually less menacing. That doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t dangerous species here or that any snake should be treated with less seriousness. Keep your dog well away from them and do not disturb a snake if you see one.

Pros of Bush Camping

  • The wildlife dangers aren’t so bad
  • There is more shade and temperate climates than the beach or outback

Cons of Bush Camping

  • Bugs. Everywhere!
  • Bad network signal

Best Locations for Bush Camping With Dogs in Australia


Outback Camping With Dogs in Australia

Blue Heeler camping in the outback

Outback camping is the most challenging of all the terrains in Australia. The landscape is arid and unforgiving. The network signal is poor. There are few resources around. It is all very desolate.

For that precise reason, it can also be the ultimate escape from the world. A solace away from the hustle and bustle of life. If you are a frequent camper, the Outback could be right for you.

We don’t recommend it for beginners.

What to Pack for Outback Camping

  • Doggy sunscreen 
    The Outback has the same shade problem as the beach. It is all very exposed. Sunscreen is a must for camping in the outback.
  • Dog socks
    The ground can get very hot and very unforgiving on gentle paws. Bringing some dog socks with you can help make your camping experience more pleasant for your pup.
  • Reflective vests
    The evenings are beautifully dark in the outback. Under that star-studded sky, the twilight draws in quickly with no electronic lights around at all. Reflective vests for you and your dog are super important.
  • Snakebite kit
    As there is a higher population of dangerous snakes here, a snakebite kit is essential.

Wildlife You Need To Watch Out For

  • Dingoes
    Not all dogs get along! Dingoes are wild dogs that are very territorial. Don’t expect them to coyly waltz up and sniff your dog on the bum in a friendly greeting. They will not hesitate to “protect” their turf.
  • Eagles
    Eagles are one of the largest predators we see patrolling the outback. Your Great Dane or Labrador is probably safe from an eagle. They know their limits. But a tiny Chihuahua will surely look like a helpless rodent from up high. Keep your eyes on the skies to protect your pup!
  • Venomous snakes
    The Outback is home to the country’s most venomous snakes. The speckled brown snake, death adder, mulga snake, red-naped snake just to name a few.  These are fast, vicious predators. If you see a snake, don’t move it, attempt to kill it or chase it in any way. Disturbing it is the worst thing you can do!

Pros of Outback Camping

  • Unique landscapes
  • A great challenge for pro-campers

Cons of Outback Camping

  • Very little shade and shelter in some desert areas
  • High population of dangerous animals
  •  Terrible network signal

Best Locations for Outback Camping With Dogs in Australia


The Final Takeaway: Camping With Your Dog

Camping with your dog takes quite a lot of preparation. You have to be certain that your dog is well-trained enough to be outdoors. You need to have the right gear with you for the safety of your dog, yourself and others on the campsite. Then location, location, location. Planning your route and finding the right dog-friendly campground is how you ensure that you and your pup have the best time ever!

There are plenty of things to think about, but being over prepared when camping with your dog is the best way forward. Happy camping!

FAQ

Are dogs OK camping?

Yes if you prepare them correctly! If you have a dog with solid recall skills and adaptability in the outdoors, your dog will likely enjoy camping with you. It is probably worth taking a few long walks and hikes in different landscapes to help your dog get used to the surrounding.

Also bear in mind your dog’s specific temperament. Just like camping isn’t for all humans, camping isn’t for all dogs.

There are dogs with seasonal allergies for example that may suffer when camping. (5) One of my dogs really dislikes the ocean so camping wouldn’t work for him. If you have an outdoorsy, active pup, they’ll probably love camping!

Can you leave a dog in a tent?

If you are staying at a campsite with activities you want to do, where do you leave your dog? It is a conundrum, particularly when camping solo with your dog. Generally, we recommend you avoid leaving your dog alone at camp but if it is absolutely necessary, it can be done.


You can leave your dog in a tent alone provided the following conditions:


  1. It is permitted by the campsite rules
  2. You will not be leaving them alone for longer than a couple of hours
  3. Your tent is well placed out of the sun and had temperature control inside
  4. Your dog can handle being left alone and will not destroy the contents of the tent or disrupt others on the campsite.

Also bear in mind your dog’s general disposition and age. An anxious puppy is not a good candidate to be left in a tent alone. In any and all cases, you should avoid leaving your dog in a tent alone for long periods of time.

Where do dogs sleep when camping?

It is not good practice to leave your dog outside when you go camping. Animals and insects can make nighttime sleeping very dangerous. Your dog should be housed in your tent with you. You can purchase dog camp beds that are specifically designed for camping. Be sure to bring a larger tent than you think to be able to house yourself and your dog.

As Gaby Pilson writes for Outforia, “... if you’re camping with your friend and your dog, you may want to think about bringing a 4 person tent instead of a 2 person tent.” (6)

Dogs can spread out a little as they sleep so you’ll want to prepare for the extra space!

What can you do with your dog when camping?

It’s great to bring along some toys and activities with you when camping with your dog to keep them entertained. We also recommend choosing a campsite with plenty of dog-friendly walks and hikes to explore the local landscape together. While you can leave your dog alone in a tent for a short period of time, this should be avoided. If you want to camp with your pooch, make them a part of your planned activities as much as you possibly can!

References
  1. Lowrey, S. October 28, 2019. “Come! Tips For Training A Reliable Recall”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved June 23, 2021. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/reliable-recall-train-dogs-to-come-when-called/
  2. Bauhaus, J. June 21, 2016. “Heat Exhaustion in Dogs: Signs Your Dog Is Overheating”. Hill’s Pet.  Retrieved June 23, 2021. https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/healthcare/heat-exhaustion-in-dogs
  3. Meyers, H. May 6, 2021. “How Hot is Too Hot? Heatstroke in Dogs”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved June 23, 2021. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/heatstroke-in-dogs/
  4. “Heatstroke”. RSPCA UK. Retrieved June 23, 2021. https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/dogs/health/heatstroke
  5. Wooten, S. March 5, 2020. “Managing Your Dog's Seasonal Allergies”. Hill’s Pet.  Retrieved June 23, 2021. https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/healthcare/managing-dog-seasonal-allergies
  6. Pilson, G. February 25, 2021. “11 Tips For Taking A Dog Camping For The First Time”. Outforia. Retrieved June 23, 2021. https://outforia.com/tips-for-taking-a-dog-camping-for-the-first-time/
Olivia De Santos

Olivia is a professional writer and animal lover. She loves spending time with her Podengo and Flat Coated Retriever, and writing pieces to help people to be better dog owners

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