Heading out into the wild for an adventure is a genuinely enriching experience. It can be a relaxing break away from the stresses and strains of urban life. You also get to be surrounded by the beauty of nature. But what about your dog?

Dogs have a lot to gain from spending time in nature, too. However, their behavior could affect you, them, or the wildlife living in the area. Before setting off on a trip to the great outdoors it’s vital to take a little time to consider whether your dog can handle the wild. 

Wilderness Training

The first step to understanding whether your dog can handle the wild is to see how they respond to wilderness-related training. Start by gently introducing them to the types of surroundings you’d like to visit for short periods. Take them for walks around local woodland areas. 

This gives them some exposure to new environments and gets them used to new sights and smells. It also helps to highlight issues they may struggle with. You may discover they tend to chase wildlife or get anxious around unexpected sounds. This can be valuable for adjusting the focus of your wilderness training.

You could also introduce wilderness training that involves practicing the skills they need outdoors. This should include establishing a solid response to recall commands, like “come”, even when they’re enthusiastically exploring an area. You need to be confident they will return to you, so they can stay out of danger and minimize disruption.

Dig into their individual behaviors that can be problematic in the wild, too. If your dog has a tendency to bark when camping or exploring, this might disturb local wildlife. Consider what might be triggering barking, such as anxiety or stress. If you can’t train them out of these triggers, you could work on methods that help them to regain a sense of calm. Such as talking in a soothing voice and minimizing stimulation.

Creating the Right Camping Environment

By ensuring a positive environment, you can help your dog better manage in the wild. Begin by researching the surroundings of the locations you’re planning to visit. Be vigilant for the types of stimuli that might be less positive for your dog, both in terms of their mental wellness and their behavior. This might be the wildlife in the area or even the potential for thunderstorms. You’re not always going to have full control over nature, but doing some advanced research can enable you to make better-informed decisions.  

If you’re camping, you can also take steps to create a pleasant space for your dog to be in. Bring along some of their home comforts. This might include a few favorite toys, their blanket, and perhaps even their bed. If your dog gets anxious by the stimulus of the outdoors or the weather, you might also create a chill-out zone for them.

This involves bringing along a dedicated dog tent or a crate that you can keep covered if necessary. Place a water bowl, snacks, and a bed inside. You don’t always need to close them in, but a space that reduces stimuli can be helpful for you and your dog.

Remember that a positive environment for your dog may also involve minimizing the potential for unwelcome wildlife to enter, potentially leading to stress, aggression, or injuries. For instance, you should bear-proof your truck bed and around your general camping area. Keep your food and trash locked in a sealed container to prevent smells from attracting bears in the first place. Make certain any coolers and food-related items are kept out of sight, but also not in sleeping areas.

Keeping them Safe and Healthy

Consider whether your dog can handle the wild from a wellness perspective. Different landscapes, terrains, and situations can present challenges to dogs. First consider if any health conditions they have — such as heart disease, pulmonary disease, and even allergies — could affect their ability to stay safe and well when exercising in the wilderness. Find ways to adjust the ambition or location of your outdoor adventure to be healthier for your dog. If you’re uncertain, always consult a veterinarian first.

In addition, it might also be wise to prepare your dog for the outdoors by building their fitness levels. Remember that exhaustion can trigger behavioral responses — such as over-excitement and loss of control — that are not healthy for your dog and unsafe in the wild. Spend “workout” periods with your dog, gradually building the distance you’re walking them. Remember to take regular rest breaks, too.

You’ll need to be prepared for the potential accidents and injuries in the wild, too. Take along a well-stocked first-aid kit for you and your pet. It’s also well worth familiarizing yourself with some basic first-aid tips and hacks. Many techniques can be adapted to help dogs. For instance, creating a tourniquet from a cut of strong cloth to stem serious bleeds or cleaning wounds with clean salt water if you don’t have antiseptic immediately on hand.


Recognizing whether there are hurdles in the way of you and your dog enjoying a wilderness experience is essential for establishing how to tackle them. This may include relevant training and attending to wellness needs, among others. However, it’s also vital to be brutally honest in these circumstances. Sometimes a dog simply isn’t suited to these types of adventures. As a responsible owner, avoiding exposing your dog to conditions they find difficult and putting others at risk is the right choice.