Whether you are new to tent camping or looking to upgrade your equipment, there are many important factors to consider when shopping for the best tent for camping with dogs. Not only does your tent need to offer the space necessary for you and your dogs to be comfortable, but you’re also going to rely on it to keep you warm, dry, and safe in bad weather.
To help you with your shopping journey, we have put together this guide to shopping for the best dog-friendly tents, including what you should look for in a tent and unique considerations for those of us who enjoy travelling with our canine companions.
Plus, we share our choice of the best tent for dogs and their owners – the tent we take along on our camping adventures! So, let’s get shopping…
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Considerations When Selecting a Tent for Camping with Dogs
There are several important considerations for any outdoor traveller when searching for a quality tent, whether you camp with your pets or not.
Failure to do your research before buying could leave you cutting your next trip short. But paying careful attention to these characteristics will help you invest in gear that will perform well over time, allowing you to make the most of your outdoor adventures.
You can choose from several different materials when shopping for a tent. A difference in the material will impact a tent’s weight, waterproofing abilities, breathability, and durability.
The most common tent materials include:
If you are concerned about your dog damaging your tent, you may want to choose a thicker, more durable fabric. There are also steps you can take to pet-proof your tent.
One of the most important roles of a tent is to keep you protected from the elements. So, it makes sense that weather resistance would be a key point when searching for the best tent for camping with dogs.
There are several ways a high-quality tent keeps the elements out during even the most damaging storms.
Start by considering the waterproofing features that the tent offers. In addition to the material the tent is made from, this includes the structure of your tent seams, the flooring design, and the style of rainfly.
If you plan on camping during the hotter summer temps, ventilation can significantly affect your comfort and safety.
Pay attention to the size and location of windows and doors. Additionally, most tents have mesh panelling along the walls and ceiling that can be opened by adjusting or removing the rainfly when needed.
Ventilation is also essential in the cooler months to reduce condensation. Otherwise, your sleeping bag and other items can get wet, making you colder.
One important feature when choosing the best tent for dog owners that prefer backpacking is the size and weight of the tent.
Backpackers often need to sacrifice other “creature comforts” in favour of portability. For example, your tent will most likely be smaller in size, both in terms of footprint and height.
Tents designed with backpacking in mind also leverage different materials for lighter-weight construction.
Ease of Set Up
Setting up camp is a comforting experience for some and a source of stress for others. If you fall into the second group, choose a tent that makes the setup process easier.
Many companies offer “easy-up” or “instant” tents that can be set up in a fraction of the time.
Tents are sized by the number of people they can hold, but these numbers don’t factor in any space your gear may take or space for your canine companion. Instead, this number is how many people can sleep side by side with no added space – like Tetris, but with people!
A general rule of thumb that we follow is to choose a tent rated for at least one more person than there are travellers. This will allow for space to store your gear inside.
As for your dog, the space needed will depend on your dog’s size and the gear you bring for them.
Due to their size, a Great Dane will need more room than a Chihuahua. But don’t forget to account for your dog’s bed or crate. This may mean going up one more size when selecting your tent.
Many tents offer a covered area to stash your gear or shoes safely out of the rain. This is a space without a floor that is still under your rainfly.
If a vestibule is large enough, you may be able to get away with a smaller tent comfortably.
Some tents even have a garage space that is not only covered but also fully screened in. This could be considered a tent with a dog room if your dog would be comfortable with a separate sleeping space.
Of course, we can’t discuss the best tent for camping with dogs and not touch on the unique safety considerations for our furry friends.
Deciding whether a tent is well-suited for your pet starts with knowing your pet’s limits.
Does your dog have a high prey drive? If so, avoid selecting a tent with mesh panelling down the sides. These panels offer a clear view of the local wildlife and the illusion that there is no barrier between them.
Check out the tent zippers work and if they can be secured at the top of the door. Otherwise, a dog may be able to nose their way out of the tent during the night.
Additional Factors When Shopping for the Best Tent
While these features don’t make or break a tent, having the added storage space can be very helpful on your next outdoor adventure.
Internal pockets are designed to hold small items you don’t want to lose. For dog parents, they are also a great way to keep an extra roll of dog poop bags by the door where you can find them in the middle of the night.
A gear loft is a mesh or material piece that can be secured off the tent floor, creating a shelf.
Many tents will come with a gear loft. However, you can also purchase gear lofts separately if you don’t have one or require a larger storage space.
Other features your tent may offer include the following:
- Additional doors
- Interior walls/separate rooms
- Gear loops for hanging storage
- Footprint for added floor protection
- Built-in LED lighting
What Tent Do We Use for Camping with Dogs (and Cats)?
When shopping for the best tent for camping with dogs (and cats), there is no one “right” answer. Instead, the goal is to find a tent that meets all your pack’s needs for a fun, comfortable, and safe vacation together.
Our adventures with the whole pack (all three dogs and two cats) are almost exclusively car camping.
We will explore other opportunities (like backcountry camping) when heading out individually with one or two pets. This may involve a smaller, lightweight tent or even hammock camping.
For car camping adventures, our tent of choice is the Coleman Skydome 6-Person.
The 6-person size is suitable for all our pets and their bedding/gear to set up comfortably while allowing room for our gear. Its unique shape allows for more headroom, ideal for taller campers like John.
An extra-large door makes it easy to move in and out of the tent with our gear or the dogs, even if you’re camping with multiple dogs and putting them all to bed at once.
We have camped in various weather conditions with this tent, including torrential downpours, extreme temperatures, and strong winds, all while staying safe and dry. Although we do use a waterproofing spray as we prepare to kick off each season.
This is an excellent option if you’re shopping for a budget-friendly, reliable tent with enough space for you and your pet(s).
Do Dogs Sleep in the Tent When Camping?
Where your dog sleeps when camping depends on your comfort level and your pup’s. Some popular options include a crate/playpen, a dog bed, or letting your dog snuggle in with you.
If you are concerned about your dog getting loose but don’t have the space for additional gear, you can leave a leash on your dog throughout the night.
Will a Dog Tear Up a Tent?
There is always a risk that your dog may rip your tent to escape, especially if this is their first trip.
Take the time to slowly introduce your pup to the tent at home, showing them that this is a safe and comfortable place. You can use commands like the “place” command to encourage your dog to settle in for the night.
It’s better to err on the side of caution. If you aren’t sure whether your dog will tear through the tent at night while you are asleep, consider using a crate or playpen to keep them safely contained.
Can a Dog Fit in a One-Person Tent?
Dog parents that are comfortable snuggling up with their pet in close quarters may be able to get comfortable for the night in a one-person tent.
There won’t be a lot of added space, but this could be a great option for backpacking trips.
Every situation is different. This may not work for you if your dog needs space, the weather is expected to be too hot for extra body heat, or your dog is extra-large in size.
What Size Tent is Best for Camping with Dogs?
There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer when shopping for the best tent for camping with a dog. Every “pack” is going to have different needs when adventuring.
Consider the number of pets, their size, the gear you will keep in the tent, and your comfort level.
Does it Make Sense to Own More Than One Tent?
Yes! If you enjoy different types of camping, it may make sense to invest in a separate tent for every kind of outdoor adventure.
For example, you may wish to have a roomier tent for added comfort when car camping, while backpacking trips call for a smaller and lightweight tent.
Many outdoor travel lovers (including us) will also invest in a separate temp for the coldest temperatures when sleeping in late fall or during the winter months. These tents are uniquely designed to trap your body heat and create a safe, warm shelter from the bitter cold.
How Do I keep my Dog Calm in the Tent?
If your dog is overly excitable or anxious when camping, this could be a sign to take a step back and focus on training again.
Start with short trips in your backyard, or take an overnight trip to a local campground where you are close enough to home that you can cut the trip short, if necessary.
Introduce the tent slowly, paying careful attention to your dog’s body language. They will let you know if it’s time to call it.
Packing familiar items like their bed or favourite blanket from home can help to calm nerves or anxiety by surrounding your dog with a familiar smell. Some dogs will also sleep better when snuggled in bed with their owners versus sleeping in their own separate spaces.
Slowly work up the length of your trip as you see your dog’s confidence grow.
What factors do you consider when shopping for the best camping tent for dogs? Do you have a go-to tent that you would recommend to other pet-friendly travel lovers? Let us know in the comments!