If you love your dog and you enjoy going camping, then chances are your furry companion has been out to the backcountry to sleep under the stars with you a few times. Dogs enjoy camping just as much as we do, so it seems unfair to leave them at home.
If you practice camping with a hammock or have recently decided to step into the world of hammock camping, then you may be cautious about bringing your dog along. You wouldn’t want to leave your pooch tied up below while you sleep all cozy and warm wrapped in your hammock, so you may refrain from bringing them. You may have wondered whether your dog would sleep comfortably for the night inside your hammock, or whether there would actually be enough room in there for both of you to sleep comfortably.
Hammock camping with your dog is definitely achievable and most breeds will happily snuggle up next to you while you sleep. Of course, if your camping companion is a Great Dane or something of similar size then doing this may be a bit ambitious. Saying that, with the double hammock a Dane would certainly fit, but it wouldn’t be the most pleasant experience for either human or K9. If your dog is smaller than a small horse, camping in a hammock with them is a fantastic experience.
So how do you prepare your pooch for hammock camping and where do you start on this new journey? In this short guide, we will be covering everything you need to know about hammock camping with your dog. We will be looking at how to introduce your dog to the hammock and how to prepare them for their first trip. How to keep them safe and happy, clean and dry, and everything you need to bring in the form of a handy K9 camping checklist. By the end of this read, you will be ready for a successful night in the forest with your best friend on four legs!
Will My Dog Sleep in My Hammock?
The truth is, some dogs will jump straight in your hammock with you, some dogs will take some time to adjust, and some dogs will point blank refuse to sleep in that scary dog bed in the trees! Unfortunately, this is just the way it is, similar to how some dogs will jump in the car with ease and others will do anything to get out of a car ride! There is only one way to find out whether your dog is a natural born hammock camper and that is to introduce them to one.
Introducing your dog to your hammock will determine whether they are fit to head out into the wilderness with you for a night or two. Making sure your pooch likes the hammock is a vital step to take before packing up your bags and hiking out into the forest for a night. The best way to introduce them is to set up your hammock in your backyard or local forest during the day. If your dog is keen, you will find that as soon as you get in the hammock they will beg to come up and may even jump up naturally. If your dog is anything like my Jack Russel, then you will get an ear full of barks until you pick him up and drop him in the hammock next to you. This is the best-case scenario and if your dog enjoys curling up with you in bed this is probably the way things will go, however, if your dog isn’t so keen what do you do?
If your dog isn’t keen, there are some steps you can take to get him/her used to the hammock. The first thing to remember is to be patient and let your dog sniff around to get used to the hammock in their own time. Once your dog is settled you can try and encourage him/her into the hammock by lifting them or enticing them with a treat or two. Unless your dog is adamant that they do not want to get in, this will work with a bit of time.
Larger dogs will feel more comfortable at the bottom of the hammock where your feet are, and smaller dogs will usually feel more comfortable next to your chest or closer to your head. Small dogs, like my Jack Russel Terrier, will comfortably fit in a single hammock but if your dog is any larger, I would recommend the double hammock. A double hammock will give your pooch more room to move and the extra space will provide more comfort for both parties.
Preparing Your Pooch for Hammock Camping
It is important to fully prepare your pooch for a hammock camping trip once you are confident that they will jump up and sleep next to you. You want to make sure your dog is comfortable, warm enough, and has all the essentials they need for an enjoyable night in the great outdoors. In the next sections, we will go over some essential tips for a successful trip with your camping companion.
The Camping Checklist – K9 Edition
You must pack all the right things to ensure that your dog stays safe and happy throughout the duration of your trip. Use this handy checklist before you head out into the wilderness with your dog.
- Some food and water bowls for your dog
- Plenty of water for your dog if your campsite doesn’t have access to fresh water
- Enough food for the duration of your stay (more than you need is a safe bet)
- Plenty of poop bags
- Some treats to keep your dog happy
- A towel or two in case your pooch gets wet and dirty
- A long leash and a means to secure your dog to a nearby tree
- Your dog’s favorite toy(s) mine won’t go anywhere without his tennis ball!
- Dog flea and tick repellent as well as tick tweezers if you are camping in tick season
- A collar light to keep track of your dog at night
- Your dog’s collar must have tags with your phone number and address
- A coat for your dog if they are prone to catching chills
- An extra blanket for your dog in the hammock.
K9 Sleeping Arrangements
One of the first things to make sure of is that your hammock is fit for use with your dog. This goes without saying but your hammock should be large enough to cater to you and your dog. The hammock in question needs to be extremely durable as well, to ensure it holds up to the wear and tear of your dog jumping in and out of it.
The double hammock is a perfect option for camping with your four-legged friend. It provides plenty of room for you and your dog (even larger breeds) to sleep comfortably. It is made from high-quality materials and is extremely durable, so you can be sure you and your pooch will get years of use out of it. It even has an attached stuff sack to keep some treats close to hand as well as your valuables of course.
Keep your Kit Damage and Dirt Free – Grooming Your Dog
The best way to clean your hammock is to not get it dirty in the first place. You won’t be able to keep it spotless and you are almost guaranteed to get some mud inside, but there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the ingress of dirt. The risk of causing damage to your hammock also goes up when you use it with your dog, so it’s important to take steps to prevent this too.
The most important thing to do before you head out hammock camping with your dog is to clip their claws. Sharp claws tear hammocks no matter how durable they are. Once your dog’s claws are clipped, it is also a good idea to get your dog groomed (especially longer-haired breeds). Fur traps mud so if your dog is well-groomed their coat will stay much cleaner.
A short coat will also allow you to see any potentially dangerous ticks and removing them is less of a hassle. Clipping your dog’s coat may not be possible in the winter months, so in place of this, a raincoat can help keep the mud off. Just make sure to remove the coat and towel off your dog before bedtime.
The hammock you choose will also make life a lot easier in respect to cleaning. The double hammock from Bear Butt is machine washable. Cleaning is as simple as washing with cold water on a delicate cycle with a light detergent, no need for fabric softener. This is a great feature if you plan on taking your dog out camping regularly because no matter how hard you try, your hammock will get dirty eventually.
Keeping Your Camping Companion Safe and Happy
Keeping your dog safe and happy should be a top priority. If your dog isn’t having fun then you won’t be either, so make sure you take some steps to ensure you and your dog have a great camping trip.
When you set up camp think about your dog’s comfort first. You should set up your hammock closer to the ground so your dog can get in and out easier. Keep their water bowl close so if they need a drink in the night they can hop out and get to their water easily. Make sure you pack enough extra blankets for your dog when they are sleeping in the hammock, especially if your pooch is susceptible to the cold.
As mentioned in the K9 checklist you should bring your dog’s favorite toys and plenty of treats. If your dog isn’t too keen on sleeping in the hammock then wearing him/her out with their favorite tennis ball or Frisbee will help them settle down before bedtime. Sleeping next to their favorite toy or blanket will also provide them with comfort when it comes time for shut-eye.
Making sure your dog is on a long leash will give you peace of mind during the night when you are both still up and active. Give your dog plenty of leash to work with so they can comfortably jump in and out of the hammock, reach their food and water, and wander off for the toilet. If you do decide to let your dog run free, a light on their collar will help you keep track of them in the darkness. ID tags and microchipping are essential, just in case the worst does happen.