Camping with a dog can be an enjoyable experience for both you and your furry friend, but you must bring along everything he needs including food bowls, water bowls, bedding materials, leash(s), and toys. One of the decisions you’ll need to make when camping with a dog is where does he sleep? If you don’t know where do dogs sleep when camping, here is your answer.
Your dog can either sleep inside your tent or outside the tent in the vestibule area. You can also get a dog tent as well. If you are car or RV camping, it’s safe for him to sleep inside the cabin. You can use dog beds to make his sleep comfortable.
Camping first time with your dog is a rather challenging adventure, and you should have all the information to make his as well as your stay comfortable and enjoyable. Let’s explore the sleeping options for your dog on a camping trip further in more detail.
Sleeping options for dogs during camping
Let’s explore all the options available for your dog to sleep comfortably during his camping adventure and discuss the pros and cons of each. I will suggest helpful products that you can use to make his sleep as homey as possible.
1. Sleep inside the tent
If you are not comfortable with your dog being loose outside the tent, he can sleep inside your tent with you.
Having your dog close by will give you peace of mind at night and he’ll enjoy the warmth of your body.
It also reduces the dog’s separation anxiety and distress from being in an alien environment especially if your dog is camping for the first time.
If you are camping in harsh weather especially during winter camping season, the best place for your dog to sleep is inside your warm tent. You are already insulating your tent and might be heating it up with a gas or battery powered heater, share it with your furry friend as well.
Inside your tent, the dog is also safe from wild predators like bears or wolves that might harm him or disturb his sleep. If your dog is aggressive, he might bark all night at wild animals, and you will end up with little sleep.
The downside of letting your dog sleep in the tent with you is that he’ll take up a good amount of space, and it will be more difficult for you to move around. If it is a small dog, you can adjust him beside you, but if it’s fairly large, you will have to get a 2-person tent to accommodate him.
Another thing to consider is that your dog’s nails can puncture the tent fabric, so you might want to bring along a doggy sleeping bag or a dog bed to avoid any damage to your tent. It is also a good idea to trim his nails before leaving for camping.
If your dog gets wet during the day and is not fully dry by bedtime, he can stink badly in a closed tent. In such a case, either dry him with a towel by a nice campfire or make sleeping arrangements for him in the vestibule area or outside the tent.
2. Sleep in tent vestibule or porch
Dogs can also sleep inside the vestibule area of your tent. Tent vestibule is a space in front of the tent door that is typically used for storage. It is covered from above by an extension of the tent material by is open from the front.
The advantage of letting your dog sleep here is that he will have more space to move around and he will not be confined inside the small tent. You can also put his food and water bowls here. Make sure you put a tarp under your tent so that your dog is not sleeping on the rough ground.
Your dog is sufficiently close to you but still separated from the main tent space via a think tent curtain. It’s a perfect trade-off between sleeping outside and inside the tent.
Camping tents with vestibules, hoods and large openings between the main body and rainfly are especially suitable for dogs to sleep in during camping trips.
The disadvantage of letting your dog sleep in the vestibule area is that he is still prone to bad weather since the vestibule is only semi-closed. If the weather gets rough, it can disturb your dog’s sleep.
While sleeping in the vestibule area, your dog is not safe from wild animals. He can get agitated or afraid by passing by animals and might wake you up in the middle of the night barking at a skunk or squirrel.
3. Outside the tent
You can also choose to have your dog sleep outside the tent in an open space but this comes with some risks especially if your dog is a small breed.
Your dog can easily become spooked by things happening outside the tent, such as people walking by, animals scurrying around, or loud noises at a distance. If he becomes scared, he may bark or run off and get lost.
Camping can also be a tiring experience for dogs, and they may want to take a nap during the day or a good sleep during the night. If he’s sleeping outside the tent, you’ll need to make sure he has plenty of shady areas to rest in and that he’s protected from the wild elements.
You’ll also need to bring along a dog bed and/or blanket as well as his food and water bowls to make his sleep as comfortable as you can.
If you let him sleep outside, make sure the weather is pleasant and calm, and there is no forecast of rain or strong winds. You should get him inside the tent or vestibule area if that happens.
4. Inside or below your Hammock
I am a big fan of hammock camping and have been doing more hammock camping than tent camping recently.
If you are hammock camping, you can let your dog sleep beside you in the hammock. It’s safe for him as he is protected from wind and rain. He is also near you, so you can easily keep an eye out on him, and he doesn’t suffer from separation anxiety.
If your dog is a restless sleeper who likes to toss and turn all night, this might not work for you, though. Also, if you are only using a single hammock and your dog is a large breed, it might not be a suitable option.
If sleeping inside your hammock is not an option, you can set your dog’s bed just below your hammock so that both you and the dog can use the same rainfly to protect against the weather.
But make sure you set up your hammock correctly and securely else you can fall and injure your dog (though it’s quite rare). If you want to do hammock camping correctly, read this hammock camping guide that I have published.
5. In Pop up Dog tent
If you are not a fan of sleeping in a hammock or tent with your dog and don’t want him loose outside, you can also get him his own pop-up dog tent.
These tents are easy to carry, set up and take down and many of them come with a rainfly for bad weather.
These tents are typically designed for small dogs, but some manufacturers make larger versions. They are perfect for keeping your dog close by during the night without having him inside the main tent area.
The only downside is that your dog might feel enclosed and anxious in the small space so it’s important to acclimate him to the tent before taking it on your camping trip.
The best place to set up the dog tent is your vestibule area or the entrance of your tent with his door facing yours. This way, your dog is always within visual range. It also alleviates separation anxiety if your dog has one.
Below are a few dog tent recommendations for you to look at:
6. In Car/Van/RV Cabin
If you are camping out of your car, van, or RV your dog can just sleep with you inside. This is probably the safest and easiest option.
Your car or RV cabin is well protected from both weather and wild animals so you can sleep with peace of mind knowing that your dog is safe and undisturbed.
All you need to do is put a comfortable bed for your dog in the backseat or the cargo area of your car, and he’ll be warm and safe during the night. For better ventilation, you should always leave a window slightly open so that fresh air can circulate inside the cabin.
During the day, do not leave your dog inside a car cabin with windows closed. The heat can get trapped inside and increase the cabin temperature far above the outside temperature, and your dog can even die from heat exhaustion.
7. On camping chair or cot
I always carry a foldable camping chair with me on camping. If you do, too, it can make a nice bed for your dog to sleep on during the night. It is elevated from the ground, safe from creepy crawlers and damp ground.
The best place to put the coming chair is your vestibule area. If you don’t have a vestibule or porch area, you can put it as close to your tent as possible so that it can use your tent rainfly to protect from rain and falling insects from the trees above.
To make his sleep comfortable, you can set a nice and comfortable bed for him using any suitable dog bed.
Dog bedding gears
If you can carry your dog’s home bed along with you on camping, it is the best option. Why? Because your dog is already familiar with the bed and will feel right at home during his first night in the wild. But home beds are quite spacious and bulky, and carrying them is only feasible when you are coming out of your car or RV.
If you are backpacking, the best dog bedding option should be lightweight, foldable, and portable. Below are a few options that you can consider to make your dog’s stay on the campsite a little more comfortable.
Inflatable Dog Bed
Inflatable beds are not only great for humans, but they are also perfect for your pet too. When deflated and rolled up, they take very little space and weigh less – both are ideal for a backpacker. While purchasing an inflatable ped, make sure it is
- Made of sturdy material like Nylor or Polyester (avoid PVC as they get raptured easily with paws)
- Waterproof so that it doesn’t absorbe water and remain wet all night.
I would recommend this air bed from dog holios that fulfills the above two conditions.
Dog Sleeping Bag
If you are camping in cold weather, you also need to carry a blanket to cover your dog during the cold night. But blankets are heavy and take up a lot of space. In such a scenario, dog sleeping bags are the ideal choice.
The sleeping bag, like the inflatable bed, should be lightweight, waterproof, portable, and durable. If you want to cushion it further, you can set it up atop an inflatable dog bed. Check out this one from Kudes.
Memory Foam Bed
Memory foam provides an excellent cushion for a good night’s sleep but they are big and bulky so only carry one if you are camping out of your car or RV.
If your dog needs additional care due to old age or joint issues, memory foam is your safest option to make your dog comfortable during the night. You can use the memory foam along with a sleeping bag to make a nice bed.
Water damages the memory foam so make sure the one you get has an inner or outer liner made of waterproof material. This one from PetFusion is a great foam that you can use both at home and on camping trips.
Dog camping chair or cot
If your dog is not comfortable sleeping on tough ground, you can get a portable camping chair or cot for your dog. Although if you are carrying a camping chair, it can act as a cot if not, a camping cot can be an excellent sleeping bed for your dog.
It is above the ground so your dog is safe from insects and damp soil that can ruin his sleep. This cot from Paws & Pals is a pretty good option for small to medium-breed dogs.
Camping with a dog can be a fun experience, but it’s important to plan ahead and make sure your dog is safe and comfortable during the trip. By choosing one of the above sleeping options, you’ll ensure that both you and your furry friend have a great time on your next camping trip.
How to keep dog cool while camping?
During summer camping, you can keep the dog cool by setting up the dog bed in cool shades, using a cooling bed, putting on dog-friendly sunscreen. You can also go for a quick swim to beat the heat.
How cold can a dog sleep outside?
It depends on the specific breed of the dog. A husky is a mountain dog and can survive even in the toughest of weather, but a Labrador Retriever can’t survive in too cold condition and needs a good blanket or dog jacket.
Is it safe to go camping with a dog?
It is completely safe to go camping with a dog. In fact, most dog owners prefer to have the company of their furry friend in the wild. You just have to make sure he is comfortable and protected especially if he is a small breed.
Can my dog sleep outside when camping?
Your dog can sleep outside when camping, but it is not very safe. Especially if the area has a bear or wolf population. Small animals like porcupines and skunks can also inflict harm so, if possible, keep your dog inside the tent or get him his own little tent.
Can you leave a dog in a tent?
You can leave your dog in a tent if the weather is not very hot and the tent has a good ventilation window to keep the temperature down and allow fresh air in. Make sure your dog is not afraid of confined spaces else he will tear down the tent in anxiety and distress.
What if my dog needs to go outside during the night?
If your dog needs to go outside during the night, it’s best that he sleeps outside as well. You don’t want him waking up everyone as he runs around looking for a place to pee. You should familiarise him with where he should go during the day.
Recommended Camping Gears: I have compiled a list of my favourite camping gear in one place. The selection is based on my own personal experience using them for many years camping as well as feedback from fellow campers. Check them out on my Recommended Camping Gears page