So your ready to go camping with your dog! It’s a wonderful experience. Dogs love exploring nature just as much as we do.
Before you go camping with your dog though, there are a few things you should do to make the trip more enjoyable.
One of which is getting your dog used to a tent. A tent is a great place for your dog to sleep while camping.
The last thing you want to do is get to your campsite, set up your tent and realize your dog wants nothing to do with it.
I mean, from their perspective, tents are completely foreign. They are this big blog that may make a loud noise in the wind or when springing to life from it’s holder.
Questions may cross your dogs mind, like what is that? Will it trap me? Is this a potential danger?
Your dog may be scared of the tent. In fact, it’s not uncommon for dogs to have camping anxiety in general.
Getting your dog used to the tent ahead of time will prevent you from spending hours trying to convince them its a safe haven at camp.
To get your dog used to a tent, simply condition them to the tent in a few positive ways before you go camping. This includes setting it up in a familiar safe place, hanging out in it together and using treats and cozy objects to make the tent feel safe.
Here we’ll go into a few simple steps to get your dog used to a tent and reduce their tent anxiety.
1. Set Up Your Tent at Home
If you have the space available, set up your tent in a common area of your home. The living room usually works great for this.
Set up your tent, open up the screens and flaps and let your dog get used to simply seeing the tent and being around it with no pressure to go inside.
Having the tent inside your house will show your dog that this is a welcome and safe item inside your home and help reduce their anxiety.
2. Let Your Dog Explore the Tent
Once your dog is used to the tent existing, let their curiosity guide them. Your dog will likely want to smell it, paw at the walls a bit, and may be adventures enough to take a peak inside.
I’d even explore it a bit with them. Use your hand to feel the wall of the tent, walk around it looking at the various parts and even stick your own head inside to show them these are all safe behaviors.
Talking to them in a calm voice and praising them while doing so can help increase their motivation to explore.
3. Try Using Their Favorite Blankets, Toys and Treats
Now you can add some of the bedding you plan on using inside your tent.
Throw in any flat sleeping mats, sleeping bags and blankets to make the floor of the tent more inviting.
I’d add in their favorite blankets as well, and maybe even their normal dog bed.
At this point, get into the tent itself and lay down and just hang out. You can invite your dog to come lay down with you.
If they are still resistant try adding in a couple of their favorite toys. This will show your dog this is a safe and fun place to hang out.
If they have a favorite type of toy, you could even coax further curiosity by buying a new one you know will tempt them to into the tent to play with.
Finally, try tossing a few treats into the tent. Most dogs love their treats so much that they’ll let their desire to snack conquer their fear of the tent.
4. Remain Positive
If your dog is still resistant to laying down and relaxing in the tent, no worries. Make sure to keep check of your own frustration and remain calm and positive about the experience.
This will slowly help ease your dogs anxiety.
Keep hanging out in the tent through out the day. Lay down, surf the net, watch a show.
Don’t pressure them to come into the tent, but simply invite them in with you to lay down or play with their toys next to you. Most dogs after a while will gladly come to hang out with you once enough time has passed.
5. Introduce Them to the Tents Screens
Once your dog is used to hanging out inside the open tent and is relaxed and comfortable, you can introduce them to the screen of the tent.
I’d recommend getting out of the tent first and zip up the screen.
Then show your dog the screen is there. Run your hand across it and let your dog press up against the screen with their nose.
After they have a decent understanding that the screen is a wall of sorts, get inside the tent and get them used to closing up the screen from the inside.
6. Close the Tent Flap
Finally, try closing up the tent flap with both of you inside the tent.
Stay calm, pet your dog and keep the positive attitude. Show them the tent closes and you can hangout inside the tent for a while together.
7. Move the Tent to the Backyard
Finally, if your still nervous that your dog won’t accept the tent once your camping, you could do a trial run in the backyard.
Setting up the tent in a different area will get them used to the fact that the tent will be coming with you.
It’s a good exercise to go through the whole process again, and making it more familiar. You could even have a sleep over in the backyard if your feeling adventurous.
8. Lastly, Be Patient
Most likely, your dog will get used to the tent pretty quickly and come around. Being patient and positive will reduce their tent anxiety.
If your having trouble the first day, leave your tent up in the house a couple days to get them more familiar with it.
Just like with their crate or the car, dogs will usually adjust pretty quickly.