No outdoor-loving dog owner wants to leave their dog at home when they head out for another outdoor adventure.
But many diehard hammock campers don’t realize that dogs and hammocks actually can mix! With the right hammock, a little practice at home, and some advance know-how, hammocking with a dog isn’t that difficult at all.
Our top dog hammocking tips will make for a safe, enjoyable hammock camping trip that both you and your furry friend will love!
Is Hammock Camping Right for Your Dog?
Not all dogs take well to hammock camping – in fact, camping in general isn’t right for every dog.
Before you take your dog on their first camping trip, we recommend a practice run at home. A night in the backyard is best.
Basically, you want to gauge how your dog responds to being outdoors overnight in a safe environment. Most dogs will love snuggling up to their owners but some might be too scared, too cold, or otherwise dislike the camping experience.
Much of a dog’s like or dislike of camping depends on its breed, temperament, and experience. Large dogs often like camping more than small dogs, although, to be honest, hammock camping is easier with a smaller dog!
In addition to a practice run at home, make sure your dog is well groomed before your trip. In particular, their nails should be freshly trimmed. Long, sharp nails will also certainly rip your hammock and can even rip the floor of a tent as well.
Finally, keep an eye out on weather conditions. Some dogs do well hammock camping in the winter while others need warmer temperatures. Alternatively, it’s dangerous to go camping in hot summer weather with some dog breeds, especially those with a thicker, heavier coat like huskies.
When in doubt, always go for a short overnight camping trip with your dog first before embarking on a multi-night trip!
Top Dog Hammocking Tips
Follow these tips and tricks when hammock camping with your dog to ensure a positive experience for everyone involved:
1. Have a Backup Plan
Some dogs love to sleep in a hammock with their owners. This is especially true of smaller dogs. Many dogs, on the other hand, especially larger breeds, prefer to sleep on the ground beneath your hammock, in a hammock of their own, or even in a tent.
On your first dog hammock outing, I recommend having a backup plan. Pack a tent just in case the hammock doesn’t work out like you hope. Most dogs are comfortable inside a tent with their owners while not all dogs are comfortable inside a hammock.
2. Select the Right Campsite
First and foremost, look for a dog-friendly campground. Not all campgrounds even allow dogs and most of those that do require you to use a leash at all times.
If you must hang your hammock from a tree, select a campsite with two close-enough sturdy trees without any overhanging dead branches. Those hammocks with a hammock stand, like the Mock One, won’t have this issue.
Finally, it’s important to hang your hammock over level ground without sharp objects or other hazards underneath. Chances are your dog will want to jump in and out of your hammock – so you must reduce the risk of injury as much as possible by selecting a level spot.
3. Inside or Outside Your Hammock?
The biggest decision you’ll make regarding hammocking with your dog is whether your dog will sleep inside or outside of the hammock.
I’ve done it both ways. The best technique depends largely on the size of your dog and the model of hammock you own.
My Yorkie always sleeps in my hammock with me. There is plenty of room for both of us and he cuddles up at my side or on my stomach.
On the other hand, my Golden Retriever is much too large to sleep inside my hammock with me. Even in a double hammock, she takes up too much space.
My solution is to set up a sleeping area beside or underneath my hammock, depending on which hammock I’m using. I put down a tarp first then her bed and blanket. I make sure that our rainfly covers her as well.
I always sleep with her attached to an extra-long leash which I then attach to my wrist or sometimes wrap around my stomach. The extra-long leash gives her some room to move about to get comfortable but ensures she won’t wander off during the night.
4. Consider a Separate Hammock
Another option is to bring a second hammock. Basically, you sleep in one hammock and your dog sleeps in the other!
Hang your hammocks as close as possible to each other. This enables you to use the same rainfly if necessary and also allows you to keep a closer eye on your dog. I make sure to hang my dog’s hammock just a few inches off the ground. I keep her attached to a leash throughout the night.
Another, often much better, option is to use a hammock with a built-in stand. The Mock One is a prime example of this. The durable built-in stand and tough fabric is ideal for dogs. A Mock One 2-Pack Bundle is currently available at a steal of a price!
5. Keep Your Dog Safe & Secure
Always hang your dog’s hammock close to the ground in case they jump out. The ground should be level with no rocks or other sharp objects. Make camp well away from any steep hills, cliffs, or other dangers. Keep your dog on a leash at all times, especially at night.
Always Bring the Right Gear
The right dog camping and hammock camping gear can make or break your trip. Here are the most essential items to bring:
You’ll be sleeping in your hammock so you naturally want to bring one that is comfortable and provides a flat lay.
Select a model that is spacious enough for both you and your pup if you plan to share the same hammock. Or, bring a second hammock for your dog to sleep in alone.
2. Hammock Straps
If your hammock doesn’t have a built-in stand, like the Mock One, you’ll need hammock straps (or, alternatively, learn how to tie hammock knots with rope).
Make sure that your hammock straps are rated for both your weight combined with the weight of your dog (if you’re sharing the same hammock). Luckily, most camping hammocks hold at least 250 pounds if not much more.
3. Rainfly, Underquilt, & Bug Net
A rainfly, underquilt, and bug net are some of the most important hammock camping accessories, whether you’re brining a dog or not.
If your dog is sleeping on the ground, make sure that the rainfly provides them with ample protection from the elements while still covering you. A tarp is a good alternative, especially for extra coverage if your dog prefers to sleep in their own hammock.
For bug nets that extend all the way to the ground (rather than simply covering the top of the hammock), it’s important to practice letting your dog in and out so that they don’t tear or otherwise damage the delicate netting material.
4. Dog Camping Gear
Don’t forget the rest of your dog camping gear. Things like towels, blankets, and a bed are most important. Plenty of food and water (bring more than they usually need, especially if hiking) is also essential.
5. ID & First-Aid
Always bring a dog first-aid kit and know the basics of dog first-aid. Make sure that your dog has a collar with your phone number on it in case they get lost. Better yet, don’t go hammock camping with your dog unless they’re microchipped.
What Do You Think?
Hammock camping with a dog is certainly more than possible – but it’s not for everyone.
Some dog owners might be better off sleeping in a tent on those nights they bring their dog with them. It all depends on dog breed, temperament, outdoor experience, and where you’re camping.
Just remember that whatever dog camping method you choose, whether it’s in a tent, a hammock, an RV, or a camper van, it’s essential that you make sure your dog is safe and secure before retiring for the night!