Happy Tails: Tips for Camping with Dogs in Arkansas
If you’re a lover of the grreat outdoors and pooches, camping with dogs could be the pawfect activity for you!
For both locals and out-of-state visitors, camping in Arkansas is a fun and cost-effective trip, whether it’s a weekend getaway or a weeklong vacation! Camping also happens to be extremely dog-friendly. It offers mental and physical stimulation for dogs and their owners, and it allows for plenty of pet/pawrent bonding.
If you want to spend some quality time ruffing it with your pooch, there are plenty of spots in The Natural State that allow camping with dogs. Below, the Hounds Lounge team has listed out some of our favorite places for camping with dogs in Arkansas, as well as a dog camping checklist and tips for a successful trip. Dig in!
Our Top Campsites for Camping with Dogs in Arkansas
We’ve got a few Arkansas campsites to pitch to you for dog camping!
Traditional vs. Primitive Camping with Dogs
Many parks, recreational areas and forests offer traditional campsites as well as primitive camping options. It’s important to know the difference! According to Reserve America, “primitive camping is camping in remote areas without amenities like bathrooms, picnic tables, trash cans, or any other man-made structures.” It offers much more solitude than a traditional campsite, but it’s also more “in tents” (get it?).
When camping with dogs, you should take time to consider if primitive camping is a good option. Safety measures will look a little different depending on the type of campsite you choose. Furr example, at a traditional campsite, you might be required to leash your dog. However, when you’re on a primitive campsite, there may be no rules for camping with dogs!
Island camping on Lake Ouachita is a grreat option for primitive camping with a dog. It gives your woof the opportunity to roam free and enjoy their own beach, but they can’t go too far since they’re limited to a small piece of land.
Primitive camping means you will be farther away from other people and dogs, but you might be closer to wildlife. You will need to be extra prepared, as you might not have cell service. All types of camping, including primitive camping, can be a doggone good time, but you need to do your research furrst, ensuring that you know how to keep your pooch and yourself safe.
Camping with Dogs Checklist
There are a few things to do before you and Fido hit the campground! Review the checklist below and read our ultimate guide to taking your dog on vacation.
- Find dog-friendly campsites
You can visit one of the Hounds Lounge-approved campsites we list above, or you can track one down on your own! It’s pretty easy, as most campsites are, in fact, dog-friendly. However, you should still do some vetting.
Check a campsite’s rules and regulations online or give them a call. You can ask them about restrictions, as well as any questions you have about the environment/terrain in relation to your pooch’s mobility. Online reviews are a great way to learn more about other campers’ experiences, including if they brought their dog camping and if the dog enjoyed the campsite.
- Choose the right tent
When camping with dogs in a tent, you don’t need the fanciest, most expensive option. You simply need a functional shelter! Avoid tents that are super lightweight, as your pooch could snag their claws on the material. For extra protection from snags, lay a bedsheet on the floor of your tent to protect the material – and keep it clean.
You’ll also want to get a freestanding tent rather than one you have to stake out. Freestanding tents won’t get knocked down so easily!
Most impawtantly, opt for a tent that gives you and your dog plenty of space. If your dog is on the larger side, go ahead and consider him an extra person when you’re looking at tent size options.
Check out these grreat tent options for dog camping from Outdoor Life.
- Pack sleeping gear
While you can always bring your dog’s bed from home, it might be easier to pack a roll-up mat. Your pooch could also sleep on a cot, air mattress or next to you in your bed! For extra cold temperatures, there are even dog sleeping bags.
Bring along your dog’s favorite toy or blanket to give them a sense of comfort and security in a new environment.
- Have a plan for leash rules
Leash rules may differ by campground – and primitive campsites likely require no leash at all. To keep your pooch safe, it’s good to always have a leash on-hand.
If your pooch needs to be leashed throughout your entire camping trip, you may consider getting a tether system to help you keep your hands free and help your dog explore a little on their own.
- Pack a furrst aid kit
A First Aid Kit is an absolute must for camping with dogs and without. You should pack one for yourself and your pooch! We have a blog all about dog first aid tips for your Arkansas Adventures, including what to pack. Below are some of the essentials recommended by Cesar’s Way:
- Wound spray
- Self-cling bandage
- Bandage scissors
- Antibiotic ointment
- Eye wash and ear wash
- Rubber gloves
- Grooming or wet wipes
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Water and treats
In addition to these items, we also recommend packing a collapsible water bowl for easy doggy drinking and Benadryl to help with allergic reactions, and keeping a clean towel or blanket in your car or pack.
Tips for Camping with Dogs
Once you’ve secured where you’ll camp and what you’ll need to bring, there are a few more bases to cover.
- Do a trial run
If you’ve never taken your dog camping before, you need to prepare them for this new experience ahead of time. Get them acclimated to the grreat outdoors by going for longer walks and doing more outdoor activities. Camp in the backyard one night to practice sleeping outdoors in a tent!
If you’ll be at a crowded campsite, take Fido to Hounds Lounge doggy daycare to practice socializing with other dogs and hoomans.
This prepwork will help you work out any kinks before you and Fido are out in the middle of nowhere – or, at least, furrther away from home.
- Double check the weather forecast
Arkansas weather can change at the drop of a hat, so be sure to check the weather regularly as your camping trip approaches. If the meteorologist predicts a downpour, you might want to reschedule!
If it’s going to be very cold or very warm, pack accordingly. Bring a cooling mat or vest and extra water for hot days, and read up on how to keep dogs cool in summer. Bring a doggy jacket and blankets for chilly temps. For either extreme, consider getting your dog a pair of booties to protect their paw pads!
- Pack appropriately
On the topic of packing, consider how much you actually need. If you’re camping on a typical site at a campground with your car nearby, you can pack as much as you want! However, if you’re hiking off the grid and carrying your entire load, you’ll want to pack lighter. Bring the essentials, including your tent, sleeping bag, food, water, flashlight and multi-tool. Throw in a roll of duct tape too, just in case your pooch does snag your tent!
For your hooman camping checklist, check out this guide from Clever Hiker.
Keep in mind you’ll be packing your dog’s essentials too, including their food, water, treats, bed and first aid kit. Poop bags are another must, as dog waste is bad for the environment and annoying for fellow campers.
If you’ll be camping near water, and your pooch likes to swim, you’ll need to pack a doggy life jacket too. Brush up on the dos and don’ts for taking your dog swimming in Arkansas.
You can invest in a hiking pack for your dog to divvy up the weight and give your pooch a sense of pawpuse!
- Know what types of plants/foliage to avoid
Watch out for poison ivy and poison oak, as hoomans and dogs can have reactions. Try not to let your dog munch on acorns – they can cause gut blockages in smaller dogs. Basically, just be smart about what your dog touches and eats.
- Know your dog and their limits
You know your dog better than anyone. Are they a creature of habit? Can you trust them to wander off leash? Do they overheat easily? Can they get aggressive around other dogs? These are just a few of many questions to ask yourself before choosing a campsite and taking your dog camping. It’s your responsibility to keep your dog safe, and you can never be too prepared.
Take Your Dog Camping at Hounds Lounge
Camping is a Natural State tradition, and camping with dogs can make it even more special. Hounds Lounge is here to ensure everyone has the best experience pawsible.
Remember, Hounds Lounge doggy daycare is the pawfect place to socialize your pooch before heading to a busy campsite. And after camping with dogs, you can bring your woof to our self-serve dog wash for quick and easy cleanup.
Ultimately, if you decide your dog is not a happy camper, he can enjoy our luxury dog boarding while you camp. You’ll both have a fun time with lots of fresh air, but only one of you will sleep in a private suite at night, complete with turn-down service.
Whatever you need from Hounds Lounge, we’re happy to help! Give one of our five locations a bark.