How to Guide: Hammock Camping with Your Dog

Ever thought of backpacking with your dog, but you want to hammock and don’t want to carry an extra “puppy tent”? Hammock camping with your dog is a great alternative! They can sleep with your in your hammock, or their own!

Some dogs love to hang! Make sure you test it out gradually with your fur child.

When I plan overnight camping trips, I usually like to include my dog, Toby. Recently I have switched over to sleeping in a hammock and discovered the ins and outs of hammock camping with a dog. Sleeping in hammocks has grown in popularity in recent years. If you are a dog lover like me, you may be wondering how do I go hammock camping with my dog? The following tips will make the trip enjoyable for you and your pets:

Safety tips when hammock camping with your dog

-Before your trip, ensure dogs are allowed where you are headed. There is nothing worse than showing up and finding out dogs aren’t allowed!

-Clip your dogs nails before hammocking. I use a dremmel to make sure the edges of his paws aren’t too sharp. If you use a standard nail trimmer, run your hand over the tips of your dog’s nails to make sure the hammock won’t snag and rip.

-Keep your dog close: there are many ways to keep your dog close to you at night. You can tie a long lead to the tree closest to you or your hammock ridgeline. I like to tie my dog’s leash to his hammock ridgeline.

Find a suitable campsite

If your dog sleeps with you in the hammock, ensure entering and exiting the hammock is as easy as possible.

-Hang your hammock close to the ground. As a rule of thumb, I will make sure that I can sit in my hammock and place my feet on the ground. This technique ensures my pooch can get in the hammock with me.

-It is also important to find strong and sturdy trees to hang the hammock to stabilize the extra weight. Make sure you do the calculations to ensure the hammock can handle your weight along with your dog’s weight!

-Ensure the campsite is as flat as possible. Any slope can make it difficult for the puppy to get in and out of the hammock.

Teaching your dog to be comfortable with hammocking

Practice it at home! You and your dog will feel more relaxed if you try it before hitting the road. Set the hammock up in your backyard or in the park before your trip. Hammock camping with your dog takes a lot of practice and patience as dogs will be naturally averse to the lack of balance.

Show the hammock to your dog with no expectation

To make your dog relaxed with the hammock, give him a little time to smell and get used to the hammock before trying to get him in it. Hold some treats your dog truly loves; high-value treats that can be served in small pieces.

Spread the hammock on the ground. Persuade your pup to enter or entice him with a treat. Once he enters the hammock give him a treat! If the dog is nervous you can start giving him treat as soon as he moves it paw until he fully enters the hammock and stands on it.

Give your dog a chance to adjust to balancing in the hammock

Tie the hammock so that it is slightly off the ground, but the center still touches the ground. You want your dog to feel the solid ground. You can use a blanket at the bottom to protect the hammock from the dog nails. Repeat the practice of having your pup get in and out of the hammock until it is easily accessible. The next step is to have your dog enter and lie down every time. The goal is to make him hop in easily and get down easily as well. Use a treat to lure him down if necessary.

Once your pup gets in and lies down happily, you can raise the hammock off the ground so that it is not touching the ground, keep it very low; about 1-2 inches. The aim is to keep the dog’s feet still touching the bottom, but just barely. Repeat having him get in and lie in the hammock.

When the dog has mastered this, move the hammock high about 6-8 inches off the ground. At this point, sit in the hammock, and persuade your dog to get in and out by enticing him with treats. Know that at this height your dog will no longer be able to feel the ground, and this can be scary! Do not push him too fast; let him get on your lap for stability if he wants to.

Hammock camp with your dog at home

Once your dog is comfortable with the hammock, you can practice lying down in the hammock with your puppy. Once you have that going easily without problems, you are ready to hang your hammock higher! That is it, now you can hit the camp and enjoy your hammock camping with your furry friend.

Choosing a hammock

There are a lot of different options for hammocks, and this can be a bit overwhelming. If you are new to the hammock scene, my advice is to buy something inexpensive to learn what you like and don’t like. This especially applies if you will be training your dog to hammock with you. My first dog friendly hammock was with a trek light gear hammock, which I purchased with ropes for under $60. Good luck! Here’s a review

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