Overlanding with Dogs: Essential Gear & Tips for BLM Camping


If you love to include your dog in every adventure you embark on, it’s a bummer knowing you can’t take your dog to most national parks. And when you go camping the traditional way, your pup is usually required to be on a leash at all times, which makes the trip less exciting for both of you. Not to mention developed campgrounds tend to be more crowded and less scenic – which can also make your getaway less than ideal.

Fortunately, public lands are an option where your dog can run free and you can become one with nature. That’s where dispersed camping comes in, which the National Forest Service defines as camping “anywhere outside of a designated campground.” This means camping without assigned campsites, bathrooms, and other amenities, making for a more solitary and immersive outdoor experience.

What do you need to know about dispersed or BLM camping with dogs before your journey? And what dog camping gear is ideal for your canine companion? Though it may take some extra planning, camping on public lands with your dog can make for an unforgettable adventure.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about dispersed camping with dogs. Read on to help you decide what dog camping essentials are best to bring when journeying with man’s best friend.

What You Need to Know About BLM Camping with Dogs

In short, BLM stands for the Bureau of Land Management. BLM lands provide remote and inexpensive camping opportunities, as they’re typically undeveloped public lands.

They provide dispersed camping options for those who want to let their dog explore public lands unleashed – an accomplishment not possible in places like National Parks, for example. When you take a dispersed camping trip, you can survey the landscape and let your dog explore freely too.

Why Camp With Your Dog?

For dogs of all energy levels, camping can be a wonderful bonding experience. Not only do you get a better bond with your pup, but you’ll get to explore together, and both stay active while you do it. And don’t forget that not paying a pet sitter when you go camping is a huge plus!

Taking your dog camping also means an extra set of eyes and ears to help keep you safe and alert. You’ll likely know about any surrounding wildlife long before you can see any other animals approaching, thanks to your canine’s acute sense of smell.

Also, if you have a high-energy dog, you have all the more reason to take your constant companion on an adventure with you into public lands. Your dog will have a huge, unrestricted area to roam and play freely – perfect for releasing all that pent-up energy.

Why Dispersed Camping?

Dispersed camping with dogs is becoming more popular for a variety of reasons. For example, certain public lands, such as national parks, have dog restrictions. In fact, dogs aren’t even allowed in most national parks.

BLM camping means you can let your dog off leash and give them the outdoor freedom they’ve been longing for. And with the more remote camping experience, you won’t have to feel like you’re packed into a campground with tons of other people. You can separate yourself from the crowd and immerse yourself in nature when you go camping in a tent on public lands.

Tips for Camping with Dogs in BLM Lands

1. Plan How You’ll Keep Track of Your Dog

First and foremost, tag and be able to track your dog – especially if you’re planning to let them off-leash to roam. Having the opportunity to run free is an experience your dog will surely appreciate, but make sure they have proper identification in case they get lost.

Or, even better, contain your dog anywhere while still giving them the space to roam with a GPS fence and tracking system like SpotOn. Our wireless containment system not only allows you to create virtual and customizable fences anywhere, but the collar also includes tracking capabilities that integrate with an easy-to-use smartphone app. GPS-powered tracking and containment systems are great options for exploring wide-open spaces like BLM lands.

2. Do Your Homework

As we’ve mentioned in general camping tips, there are a few basic things to consider before setting out on any kind of camping trip, especially if you’ve never been camping before. If you’re planning on dispersed camping, you need to do some extra research and make sure you’re aware of any restrictions at your destination.

While the majority of BLM land allows dogs, some environmentally-protected areas may have stricter regulations. You can check the official BLM maps for your preferred spot, and then contact the local field office to make sure you’re aware of any dog restrictions or requirements. They can also help you determine which areas may be best suited for your trip.

Once you’ve done your research, you can pick a location that allows pets and meets your standards.

3. Remember Your Outdoor Ethics

Adventuring with your dog is sure to be an experience that neither of you will forget, but you should make sure that you know how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly with your pet.

Keep the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace in mind when exploring the great outdoors with your pups. Not only does this include planning ahead and informing yourself of any site-specific pet regulations beforehand, but there are also several canine-related considerations to be aware of while you camp..

Have a plan for how you’ll dispose of pet waste, and ensure you have the proper supplies to do so. Your local BLM field office can help you determine what disposal options are available ahead of time and plan for the best course of action at your destination. You should also be aware of any disruptions your dog could potentially make to the land or wildlife — be prepared to address any digging or any other “destructive” behaviors your dog may be prone to.

4. Put Safety First

When you camp with your dog, you’re responsible for keeping both you and your pup safe. Make sure you plan ahead and gather the necessary safety gear before your trip. From pet first aid kits to canine visibility vests and doggie life jackets, bring the right equipment to help keep your dog out of harm’s way during your trip.

Overlanding with Dogs: Enhancing Your Dispersed Camping Experience

Adding a new dimension to dispersed camping, let's explore the exciting world of overlanding with dogs. Overlanding, a blend of off-road travel and camping, offers a unique way to experience the wilderness with your canine companion. Overlanding is not just about reaching a destination – it's about the journey and the experiences you share with your dog along the way. It involves traversing through diverse landscapes, from deserts to forests, offering a sense of freedom and adventure that is unparalleled in traditional camping.

Key Considerations for Overlanding with Dogs 

Vehicle Preparation: Ensure your vehicle is equipped for off-road conditions. Safety for both you and your dog is paramount, so consider installing dog barriers or harnesses for secure travel. 

Route Planning: Choose routes that are suitable for both your vehicle and your dog. Consider the terrain and weather conditions, and plan for stops where your dog can explore and play. 

Water and Food Management: Overlanding trips might take you far from supply points. Pack sufficient water and food for your dog, considering the extra energy they'll expend exploring. 

Emergency Preparedness: Have a plan for emergencies. This includes knowing the location of the nearest veterinarian, carrying a comprehensive pet first-aid kit, and ensuring your dog's microchip and tags are up-to-date.

 8 Dog Camping Essentials for Your Next Adventure

Now that you’ve researched and planned out your destination, it’s time to pack your bags with your dog camping gear–and we’re talking past the basics of food, water, and a tent.

Here are some important (but sometimes overlooked) dog camping essentials that make dispersed camping more enjoyable for both you and your pup:

1. Sleeping Bags

Yes, you probably have a sleeping bag for yourself, but what about your canine camping partner? After you wear them out with a day full of exploration, it’ll be time to get some rest. The Whyld River sleeping bag provides a cozy but unrestrained experience featuring a 2-part design. It functions as both a sleeping bag and a travel bed, making it the perfect device for dispersed camping with your dog.

2. Doggy Backpacks

Dogs love doing a good job. Give them a task by setting them up with a hiking backpack and make them feel more useful! The backpack can also help slow down your high-energy dogs and keep them by your side. Plus, your dog can then help carry their food and water – a huge plus when you’re exploring!

3. Waterproof Toys

Sure, you grabbed the dog’s water bowl, but did you grab their water toys? Whether they’re playing fetch or out swimming, you can wear your high-energy dog out with some waterproof toys. Breeds like Newfoundlands, setters, and retrievers will have a wonderful time wading through the water in a game of aqua fetch on your next camping trip!

4. Paw Protectors

Pet boots or other paw protectors are a must to help reduce the risk of injury while your pup runs free. Prep for your time on the trails together and your dog’s independent exploration time with some dog boots that will keep their feet shielded from rocks and other debris.

5. A Wireless Containment System

BLM lands that allow unleashed dogs mean your pooch can run more freely–and run farther–than they normally do. A GPS tracking and containment system can help make sure your high-energy dog doesn’t stray too far. A system like SpotOn makes the perfect dog camping fence because you can create instant invisible fences wherever you are and in whatever shape or size you want. Plus, you can use the smartphone app to see where your dog is at any time.

When you camp on BLM land, you can cover much wider areas than the typical campsite and let your dog run to their heart’s content. We especially recommend the SpotOn Fence for dispersed camping because you can activate “Off-grid Mode” which allows you to contain your dog without cell service or the internet, making it perfect for these remote locations. 

6. Treats

This might already be a go-to for many dog owners, but fragrant treats are a perfect opportunity to have more fun with your pup in the great outdoors. Think of all the nosework games you can play with your dog! Scentwork is especially important for sniff-loving breeds like hounds, German Shepherds, and pointers.

7. Pet Wipes

Making sure your pet stays active can sometimes have a stinky downside for many high-energy dogs. Fortunately, some doggy pet wipes make for the perfect solution.

8. Chews

Once it’s time for them to wind down, give them a durable treat like a yak cheese chew to help them relax at the end of a long day.

As you can see, there’s a lot to love about BLM camping with dogs. As long as you have the right dog camping gear, you can make your dispersed camping trip with your dog a breeze.

 Ready for Your Next Adventure with Your Dog?

Forget the tangled leashes and tethers – discover how SpotOn can give your pup the freedom to explore the world unleashed on your next dog-friendly camping trip.

Author Bio:
Amy Brannan is a British native who currently resides in North Carolina with Jet, her 15-year-old senior black lab. Throughout her life, Amy has been owned by numerous Labrador retrievers, a Great-Dane pit-bull mix, and a very demanding border collie. For over 16 years, Amy has dedicated her life to dog training, and she currently works as a freelance writer, promoter of rescue dog awareness, and part-time for a local veterinary clinic.

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