A Camping Dog Run

A couple weeks ago we took the pup on her first camping trip (yes, it’s California so we can camp year-round). She was a little nervous on her first day, but once she figured out what was going on she relaxed and had a great time. In addition to having her with us, she comes with a bunch of stuff to add to our Camping Checklist! One of the best things we did for her was to set up a dog run at the campsite. It’s a simple and easy trick to making camping fun for for all of us.

See that face? That’s the, “Everyone I meet says I’m cute so why don’t you let me run into their campsites, tents and trailers to say hello?” face.
Pup on Harness

For Hailey, we tried to pack light, but we ended up bringing quite a bit of stuff. Her stash included:

Things to bring for puppy

  • water and food bowl
  • dog food
  • treats
  • leash (both retractible and standard 6 ft)
  • harness
  • bed (it’s nice bring something they’re familiar with, we brought her usual bed but decided against bringing her crate)
  • jacket / rain jacket for cold and wet weather
  • toys (washable and/or dirt resistant!)
  • collapsable water bowl for hikes

We brought a lot of toys, but really all she wanted to play with were all the sticks… SO MANY STICKS! This picture is about an hour after we arrived…

So Many Sticks

We camped near Big Sur, along the central California coast. She liked the beach, but had a healthy fear of the waves (which was good for us!).
Waves and Pup

Turns out, she’s a great hiker! The Boyfriend and I love to hike, so this is really wonderful.
Hiking Trail
Since Hailey is very curious and likes to explore, it’s important that we keep her contained while we’re at our campsite. She loves people, so she’d be into everyone’s tent, car, or trailer if we let her run free. If she’s not in our tent trailer (which she LOVES), we have her on a dog run. This gives her freedom to move around the campsite and be close to us but she can’t actually wander off. Below, I’ve listed out the materials and steps to put together a camping dog run for your pup!

Dog Run Pup in Bed



  • long rope – 50 ft (length depends on where you camp and if you’re using stakes)
  • carabiner
  • 6ft leash w/loop handle
  • harness or collar
  • optional – posts or stakes

The Details

The basic set-up is simple. Just tie the rope between two points that are at or above the dogs head (so they are walking under it). We used the campsite BBQ and picnic table. Don’t ask me what kind of knots we used, it’s a square-fishermans-how do you tie this again?
BBQ rope knot Picnic Table Knot

Then we simply slipped the carabiner through the loop on the leash and around the rope. After connecting leash to Hailey’s harness she’s able to move up and down the length of the rope unobstructed.

Hooking Up The Pup

I prefer this to just tying her leash or rope to a single point because she’s less likely to get tied up. Although, you still have to watch them! I turned around for a second and when Ilooked back at her she had tied up three of her feet (basically hog-tied) and was laying on her back. Crazy girl!

We also bring a large piece of fake green grass with us for dirty/muddy sites. This helped to keep her a little bit cleaner. After our big hike, she was exhausted.

Sleepy Pup

You can see here, that Hailey can get to just about everything around the campsite while on her run (well, except for in the bushes where I’m standing!)
Campsite Dog Run

She could however, get to the top of the picnic table (which is where I’m standing in this next picture). Seconds after this shot, she was up there with me.
Dog Run Overhead

We had Hailey sleep in her bed on the bench next to our bed, but she still managed to get up into our bed after darting in the door. Then she played innocent…
Bed Footprints

Footprints aside, Hailey’s been a great addition to our camping trips! The camping dog run was a super simple project but makes a big difference in the camping-life of our puppy. What do you for your dog when you take them camping? Any other tricks or advice to offer us?

7 thoughts on “A Camping Dog Run

  1. Love this!!! It is so much fun to bring your dog along camping! She is sooo cute! And I know how the muddy foot prints are…like some other dog magically got in the camper =)

  2. Great idea! I’ve used the same set up for years! Just FYI. Lear to tie a bowline knot. They will never be too hard to untie

  3. Enjoying your blog! We take our two dogs with us every time too. I have found that, if we give them each a pig’s ear while we are taking down our pop-up, it keeps them busy and out of the way.

  4. Bring an old tweezer when you go to Big Sur. We go there a lot and Yosemite too. Even though we put Dog Tick and Flea repellant before going, my dog was covered with ticks. We went for a hike by Sand Dollar Beach on our anniversary last summer. Luckily I had my tweezers. I know this sounds gross but we couldn’t kill those hard shelled nasty things! So, I got a bucket of water with dish soap and they died in the bucket! Amazing. It took my poor hubby 3 hours to get them all off. Next time we’re shaving him down and buying a White Cotton shirt for him, so we can better spot them. Hope this helps.

  5. My veterinarian cousin recommended PREVENTIC® tick collars as we had a tick problem in NC. They kill the ticks and paralyze the ticks’ mouth so they fall right off! Also, you can take the collar off when you are in a tick free zone to minimize the meds your dog is getting.

  6. If you put a drop of hand sanitizer on a tick, it will back right out so you can kill it. We always carry a tiny personal-size sanitizer bottle now. It works like magic!

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