Where do Dogs Sleep When Camping?

Camping is a great way to spend time with your dogs; it can be a real bonding experience and a fun way to share and enjoy the great outdoors together.

But if it’s your first time under canvas with them, you may be wondering about the sleeping arrangements because where do dog’s sleep when camping?

Sleeping with Your Dogs When You’re camping.

The most obvious answer is to copy the sleeping arrangements you already have at home. This won’t always be possible or sensible in a tent, but it’s a good place to start.   

Familiarity can help dogs settle into camping more easily.

If you have a big enough sleeping compartment and your dogs sleep with you at home, then do the same in the tent.

Dogs that sleep in baskets or beds in the same room as you can be accommodated at the foot of your compartment.

Dogs that are crate trained and are happy sleeping in one can do the same when camping. 

If your pet sleeps on a pile of blankets in another part of the house, imitate this, too, either in the sleeping berth with you or in the tent’s vestibule or communal space if you have one.

These suggestions won’t be suitable for everyone but they’re a good place to start. They also show that camping with dogs doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Yes, you can buy some cool gear like sleeping bags for dogs, raised beds and mattresses but you can also just let them lie down wherever they’re comfortable and that could just be a pile of blankets.  As owners, we might have much higher standards than our dogs do.  Don’t feel as though you have to spend a fortune to make them happy.

If you’re nervous about how your dog will take to sleeping in a tent with you, recreate the experience before you go.  Sure, it sounds a little bizarre but pitching your tent in your backyard or going to a local campground for the night gives you the opportunity for a test-run.  You can even do it in your house if you have a big enough space.  See how your dog reacts and how they go to sleep: in the tent with you, outside, in a basket or bed or somewhere else.  You may not feel the need to do this if you’re only going away for a few nights but if you’re planning on a much longer trip then it can be very useful.

Where Do Dogs Sleep If You’re Camping?

Where your dog sleeps when you’re in a tent will depend on several things:

  • Where you’re staying
  • The size of your tent
  • The personality of the dog and its attitude to camping
  • The outdoor temperature during the night

Sleeping in the Tent

Most dogs will sleep inside the tent with their owners in the sleeping compartment. Although, this depends on the size of the dog and the size of the tent.

Include the dog when you’re picking your tent.  For example, if you’re taking your partner and dog on a camping trip then pick at least a three-person tent.  This gives you more room.  It may not be necessary for small breeds which take up far less space.

It also boils down to the question: do you want your dog sleeping next to you in the tent?  Not all owners do.  Some dogs are loud snorers or you may get too hot or too uncomfortable being next to them.  In some cases, a wider tent can help.  You’ll find tents that have additional compartments, too, like a sleeping pod or a vestibule which may be better for your dog to sleep in.

Vestibule areas are useful regardless of where your dog is sleeping because they’re a good place to dry off wet dogs and kick-off muddy shoes. Although, putting your dog in another part of the tent means you lose direct supervision. This may be unpopular with some owners. Some dogs might try to escape or may become anxious and start chewing or destroying their bed. Think about the kind of dog you have and how it reacts to being alone before separating yourself from them entirely.

Dog Camping Gear

You can buy dog sleeping bags for them to climb into much like a human one. There are also raised beds which take away the discomfort of sleeping on hard ground. Insulating mats are useful on the cold ground. Sometimes it’s worth spending some money to ensure our pets have a safe and comfortable experience when traveling with us but don’t feel that you have to. 

Bring your dog’s basket or bed if you can and put that in the tent.  The familiar smell should mean they feel safe and happy to sleep there.  You might have a dog that loves flopping down onto a pile of blankets so bring those too if necessary.

In the Crate

If your dog is crate trained, and they are happy sleeping inside it, that’s an option, too. You can either put them at the bottom of the sleeping compartment or in a separate section.

You can also buy pop-up and collapsible ones designed for traveling. If your dog isn’t crate trained, then camping is not the time to start.

Letting a Dog Sleep in the Car

Some owners leave their dogs in the car overnight. This is a contentious issue. Some dogs prefer the quiet space of a vehicle. Unsettled dogs may calm down more quickly in the car. We’d always recommend having your dog with you in the tent but a car is a viable option, too.  Make sure that there’s plenty of food and water and that there’s a flow of air. The air temperature can drop rapidly overnight so make sure you’re sure it’s safe before putting your dog into the car. You should also be prepared to get up early to take them out if you’re in a warm climate.

It’s a terrible thing to consider but also be aware that an unsupervised dog in a vehicle could be a potential target for dog thieves.

Dogs Outside

Some owners let their dogs sleep outside.  This is a personal choice and one that should be decided based on the dog’s personality and where you’re camping.  You shouldn’t let your dog sleep outside in cold weather unless it’s a breed accustomed to it like a Malamute. Pay attention to overnight temperatures as much as you would daylight ones.  Dogs shouldn’t be outside when the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or 4 degrees Celsius. Some campgrounds won’t allow dogs unsupervised regardless of the weather In other places, wildlife and predators could be a problem.  If you do decide to do this, ensure your dog is microchipped and that your contact details are on the collar.

Attaching a corkscrew into the ground and tethering the dog to it works for some owners.

Be considerate of others camping near you if your dog tends to bark at people. Try setting up screens or pitching out of the way if you’re dog is going to be outside a lot.

Where Does a Dog Sleep When You’re Camping?

There’s no hard and fast rule for where dogs sleep when camping. It’s going to vary from owner-to-owner and dog-to-dog. Putting your dog’s needs above your own should ensure you make the right decision. We’re sure you’d do that anyway but it’s worth mentioning.

You have several options for where a dog can sleep when camping.  You know your dog best of all so use that as a guide and work from there.  You may prefer to get a bigger tent or one with a separate area to put a dog bed or crate inside. You could also let the dog sleep in a vehicle or outside under the stars.  These two last suggestions should be considered only after you’ve thought about the others and only with the dog’s best interests at heart.  A poor night’s sleep is a small price to pay to ensure your dog is safe and healthy come morning.

If you don’t think your dog will have an enjoyable or comfortable experience camping, then leave him or her with a friend or family member or at a trusted kennel.   

We wish you all the best for your next camping trip!