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6 Basic Commands Your Dog Needs to Know for the Campsite

Taking your dog camping is an important part of dog ownership. However, if your dog isn’t properly trained prior to camping with you, it can quickly turn into a disaster. Here are some of the best basic commands your dog needs to know before you take him to the campsite.


If you’re not going to keep your dog leashed during your camping trip, then your dog absolutely must know and accurately respond to the “come” command. If he doesn’t, then you’ll end up with a rogue dog on your hands! He can easily get lost following squirrels, birds, or even other campers. It can lead to a frazzling day and even heartbreak if you can’t find your dog if he runs away while camping.

That’s why it’s important to have a set of personalized dog tags on your dog’s collar. If he comes across any other campers or park rangers, they can easily contact you or locate you within the park to return him! You should also have a harness on hand to clip your dog’s leash to. You can tie the leash to a tree trunk or another stationary item on your campsite to ensure your dog doesn’t wander off, especially at night.

6 Basic Commands Your Dog Needs to Know for the Campsite


While out at the campsite, your dog will definitely come across things that interest and excite him—birds, squirrels, other dogs … even people! He’ll want to go interact with these interesting and exciting things, but doing so might put him in danger or keep you from actively watching him. That’s why teaching the “stay” command before heading out camping is so important! Otherwise, you run the risk of losing your dog while at the campsite.

Nothing is more heartbreaking than when you’re searching for your pupper, so keep him safe and only take him camping if he knows the “stay” command.

Leave It

If your dog does know the “stay” command, then the “leave it” command follows right behind as a need-to-know command. If you’re confident in your dog’s ability to come back to you or stay in his current location, there’s still a chance he might pick up a larger-than-life tree branch, a dead animal, or even some leftover trash of previous campers. He might even accidentally bring you a “borrowed” item from another campsite!

Of course, knowing the “leave it” command is great for your dog because you can teach him to stop bringing items from various places into your campsite. This also goes for those moments when he’s trying to fish with you!

Source: Christin Lola/


The “sit” command is one of the ways you can keep your dog safe while camping. When you tell your dog to “sit,” it means you are asking him to sit patiently while around others. If your campsite is shared by others, then you’ll probably come across them multiple times throughout the day, especially if they aren’t venturing too far from their campsite.

Teaching your dog to sit can keep him from frightening others, running up to them, or running off after them. The difference between the “sit” command and the “stay” command has to do with people. “Ssit” is what your dog should do when around people. “Stay” is what your dog should do at all other times.

Depending on the size of your dog, they might scare someone if they jump up on them as a greeting. While it might be great to do with you, it is probably not comfortable for anyone else. Teaching your dog to sit when others are approaching can ensure the greeting process goes smoothly and positively.

Lie Down

Another command great for when people are passing by is “lie down.” Your dog will appear much less frightening if he’s lying down whenever people—especially small children—walk by or come up to your campsite. Sure, your dog can get excited when he sees people, but it’s important he remain calm until you cue him to get up.

“Lie down” is also a great command to teach your dog to use while you’re cooking a meal, setting up the tent, or unloading your car. Excited dogs can hurt themselves when they pull against their tied-up leash or harness, so, if they know the command to lie down, they won’t run the risk of hurting themselves. If you plan on leaving your dog in the tent for just a bit, take some of these extra precautions.


“Free” is a command you should use only when it’s safe to do so—it literally frees your dog from any of the other restrictive commands you have in place, such as “sit” or “stay” or “lie down” or “leave it.” It means he doesn’t have to adhere to those commands any more—he’s been freed of them!

If you’re at a particularly busy campsite or it’s unfamiliar to you, then using “free” might not be a good idea. However, it is important to note, “free” doesn’t equate to “run and play.” It just means your dog no longer has to sit or lie down, etc. Make sure you train your dog to understand this command because it will keep your dog safe!

Other Things to Know About Camping with Your Dog

When you decide to go camping with your dog, here’s a couple of other things you’re going to need to know:

Only go if your dog is prepared: If you haven’t taught your dog any commands, don’t take your dog with you! Instead, have a family member or friend dog sit for you, and then continue to work on training your dog when you return.

Make sure they have the proper identification: Vaccination records, name, owner’s phone number, microchip status … all of these are items that should be with you when you camp. Their name and your information should be on their dog tag! You can get a custom dog tag for your pet that allows you to choose what information you want to be printed on it. You will feel much safer bringing your dog along with you if you have all the proper information with him!

Last modified: August 23, 2021