Off on a hammock camping adventure and want to bring your dog along? It’s definitely possible! Hammock camping shouldn’t be an automatic disqualifier for sharing the great outdoors with your furry friend, but it does take a small amount of extra preparation.
It’s for just that reason that we’ve put these quick and easy doggo tips together for you. We’ll cover the basic steps from early practice to the actual trail, and at the end you’ll be ready to have a seamless and incident-free hammocking experience with your faithful companion.
You can actually begin getting your dog ready for the upcoming adventure before you even leave! Because, as most of us are aware, new situations and objects can often be stressful for dogs, and hammocks are no exception.
It is therefore important for your dog to get used to the concept of hammocks ahead of time, instead of trying to cope with it on the trail. Getting used to their appearance, seeing you in it, and knowing that the hammock has not in fact eaten you when you recline back out of view (and perhaps precipitating a hastily planned rescue attempt to save you).
So take your dog and hammock out for a dry run at a nearby park or open space, and let them see what’s coming. Set up the hammock, let your dog investigate, and relax into it to demonstrate how this strange apparatus works.
Now would also be the perfect time for you to work with your dog to find the perfect sleeping situation for them, which brings us to our next point.
Plan Sleeping Positions
The wide range of dog sizes and temperaments means that you should also practice your sleeping arrangements ahead of time.
If your dog is on the smaller side, and also enjoys a good snuggle, then they may be perfectly content to curl up next to you for the night. This may also hold true for bigger, medium-sized, dogs if your hammock is large enough, or if you are lucky enough to have a double hammock. If this is your plan, be sure to practice during your dry run. See how they like being lifted into the hammock, and if they can settle down once they’re in.
It’s entirely possible that the hammock life just won’t be for your dog, and they’ll show some signs of anxiety or discomfort when inside. If that happens, no worries, move on to our next recommendation of having your dog sleep below or next to your hammock. If you happen to have a large dog, perhaps in the Newfoundland size range, where sharing the hammock just isn’t going to fly, then this sleeping arrangement is also a viable option. This of course means that you’ll need to pack a mat or pad, but it will be well worth it for a comfortable and happy dog!
If you have a larger dog who seems to like the hammock idea, but there isn’t enough space in yours, then you can always get some extra style points by getting them their very own basic hammock to sleep in. You’ll naturally set up this hammock a little closer to the ground and line it with a quilt (more on this later), and your dog could be an intrepid hammock camper like you! You’ll also get the benefit of probably being one of the coolest people in the camp with a dog that’s just relaxing in their very own hammock.
We’ve already covered the mat or pad to make a nice warm spot for your dog if they’re outside the hammock, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear if you and your dog decided to snuggle up together for the night in the hammock.
In that case, your dog’s toe nails can certainly make a nylon hammock beg for mercy if they accidentally poke a hole or two through the material. To protect against this, we recommend you bring along a thin quilt for your dog to lay on inside the hammock. This will help protect the lightweight material from damage during entry and exit, and also when your pup is dreaming about chasing rabbits and starts running in their sleep.
To further protect your hammock from the occasional toe nail, we highly recommend you take the time to trim your dog’s nails before taking off on your trip. It’s also important to note that overly long toe nails can cause some discomfort and pain to a dog, so it’s doubly important to get these seen to before heading out for a hike!
A further, hopefully obvious, piece of gear to bring along is a leash for keeping your dog nearby at night. This tends to be a nonissue if you’re sleeping together in the hammock, but if they’re on the ground, you definitely want to make sure they don’t wander off for a solo exploring expedition.
Securing the leash to a tree or your hammock anchor points are both perfectly acceptable options. If you’re more concerned about having direct feedback, perhaps if your dog gets anxious or starts trying to pull away, consider tying the leash to your wrist for the night. If you opt for this alternative, we recommend you avoid turning over and over during the night which will slowly winch your pup closer and closer to the hammock!
We’ve covered the essential extras you’ll need for just the hammock camping aspect of a dog accompanied adventure. But please remember you’ll need food, waste disposal bags, and a collar/ID tags for any hiking trip with your dog!
There you go folks! You’re know armed with the knowledge you need for a successful hammock camping trip with your favorite four-legged friend. From early practice and exposure to the hammock, to working out your preferred sleeping arrangements, and wrapping up with the extras you’ll need to bring, you’re all set to hit the trail.
Have fun and stay safe, eh?