Taking your dog camping can be a great time, but they can wreak havoc on a tent. Even well-behaved dogs can get restless in an unfamiliar setting. It doesn’t take long for a dog to tear through a nylon or polyester tent floor. If you plan on bringing your dog on a camping trip you need to learn how to protect
How do I protect my tent floor from a dog’s claws? To dog-proof a tent floor you need to trim your dog’s nails and lay down some type of protective layer. This can be a tarp, ground cloth, foam tiles, rug carpeting etc. After laying down a basic layer of protection it’s all about minimizing risk by keeping an eye on the dog. Don’t leave your dog alone in the tent.
Unfortunately, most tents aren’t designed to withstand dog claws, but you can easily make it work. Although you’ll need to pack extra gear, it isn’t hard to protect a tent floor from your dog. In this article I tell you a few of the best ways to dog-proof a tent.
How to Protect a Tent Floor From Dogs
If you’re not careful a dogs claws can quickly rip through a tent floor. Your dog doesn’t even need to be digging at the floor to do damage. After all it is just a thin piece of nylon.
You don’t even have to spend a lot of money to sturdy up the tent floor. It can take as little as $10 and just a few minutes of your time. Here’s an action plan to protect your tent floor.
- Cut Your Dogs Nails: Cutting your dog’s nails is half the battle. With well-trimmed nails, you shouldn’t have to worry about a dog puncture through the floor of your tent. If your dog’s nails touch the ground, they are too long. Just head down for to your local groomer for a $10 nail trim or pick up a pair of nail trimmers and do it yourself(these are the clippers I use).
- Lay Down a Protective Barrier: Think about the thin fabric in your tent. Do you really think it was designed to withstand punctures(definitely not)? Try to form a barrier between your dog and the tent floor. Backpackers should lay down a lightweight ground cloth both inside and under the tent. Car campers can get away with heavier options like foam tiles and rugs.
- Give Your Dog a Safe Place to Sleep: Minimize walking in the tent to a single area. Everything your dog wants or needs should be kept in one area. Bring along your dog’s bed from home or pick up a dedicated backpacking dog bed like the Ruffwear Highlands Bed.
- Never Leave a Dog Alone in a Tent: Leaving your dog alone in a tent is a recipe for disaster. Do you really think those thin walls will hold back a determined dog? It isn’t just about protecting your tent, you could end up losing the dog in unfamiliar territory. Plus a tent can reach well over 100° in hot weather.
- Wake Up With Your Dog: Does your dog usually wake up early in the morning? Expect your dog to get up a whole lot earlier on a camping trip. Most dogs wake up and get restless right as the sun comes up. Don’t let your dog wander around the tent unwatched.
Where Will Your Dog Sleep? Dog Beds Get Your Dog Up Off The Tent Floor
My dogs have always come inside the tent to sleep with my family. Indoor dogs just won’t be comfortable sleeping outside all alone.
Plus it’s just safer to bring your dog inside for the night. Less chance of running off and getting into it with other animals. Ever break up a fight between a dog and raccoon? Trust me, it’s not fun. After a trip to the hospital for a rabies shot and more scratches than I could count I started to rethink a few life decisions.
The only downside to bringing your pup inside is that there’s more of a risk of damaging your tent. Even with a dog bed he’s still gonna be walking around throughout the night.
You might want to check out my post explaining how to sleep with a dog inside your tent. There are lots of tips on making sure your dog is secure inside the tent at night. Remember that a thin 1mm thick tent wall isn’t going to hold back a determined dog.
I actually bought a special dog bed designed specifically for backpacking, but any bed will do. The RUFFWEAR Highlands Bed weighs less than 1 lb and folds down into a 12″x4″ stuff sack. My dog Zoey actually carries her own bed and gear when we go backpacking.
Dog Proofing a Tent Floor
Dog proofing a tent floor really isn’t all that challenging. Just minimize risk by getting your dogs nails cut and lay something down to protect the floor from punctures.
Dog proofing your tents floor doesn’t even have to cost anything. You probably probably already have everything that you could possibly need.
Cut Your Dogs Nails to Prevent Accidental Floor Tears
Properly cutting your dogs nails is half the battle. They can quickly get out of control if you don’t do it regularly. You should be trimming your dog’s nails every 1-2 months. If the nails touch the ground they are far too long.
To make matters worse, if you don’t regularly trim a dog’s nails the pink part(called the quick) inside will start to grow out. It’s painful to cut into the “Quick” so you really can’t cut the nails short once that’s grown out.
Don’t Worry! With regular biweekly nail trimming the quick will slowly recede and your dogs nails will be back to normal. Personally, I would just pay the $10 every couple of months to have the groomer cut your dog’s nails, but it’s up to you.
Tarps and Ground Cloths Form a Protective Layer Over The Floor of a Tent
You need to find something to go over the tent floor to protect it from punctures. If your car is nearby and the weather’s nice you can always just throw down a few cheap blankets/sheets (painters drop cloth) down on the floor and you’re good to go. Keep extras in the car for when mud eventually gets tracked in.
Backpackers will need a much lighter solution. I’ve always just carried an extra ground cloth to line the inside of my tent floor. Just head over to Amazon and pick up a tent footprint or ground cloth. They’re cheap and basically the same, so just pick the cheapest one that’s slightly bigger than the floor of your tent.
Instead of a tarp, you can also use any old tarp or just a sheet of Tyvek plastic. Personally, I’m not a fan of going this route. I can’t stand the constant crinkle of the tarp everytime somebody moves. When it only costs like $15 for a tent footprint it’s just not worth fooling around.
Interlocking Foam Flooring Both Cushions and Protects Your Floor
Ever see those interlocking foam tiles that they sell for gym floors? They’re a bit pricey, but they work great on tent floors. I actually use the ones that look like wood as a makeshift home office floor.
At 2×2 ft per tile it shouldn’t take more than a pack or two to cover the entire tent floor. They take less than a minute to lay down and once you’re done you can use them in your garage or home gym. It will also give you a little bit more padding and insulation between your body and the hard cold ground.
Indoor Outdoor Rugs and Carpeting Can Be Used While Car Camping
Indoor/Outdoor rugs are another great option to line your tent floor. You will probably need to have a truck and park close to the campsite since they’re so bulky.
Any old rug would work, but you can get those indoor/outdoor grass rugs for cheap. When your dog inevitably tracks mud onto the rug you’ll just hose her off.
Don’t Leave The Dog Inside Your Tent Alone
Leaving your dog alone inside a tent is a recipe for disaster. Tent walls/floors just aren’t strong enough to hold back a determined dog. Your damaged tent is the least of your worries. You could end up losing your dog!
It’s also not going to be safe for the dog. Ever try to sleep in on a camping trip? There’s a reason why campers always get up at the break of dawn. After about two hours in the hot sun your tent will turn into a sauna. On a 75° day expect temperatures to reach well over 100° inside a closed tent.
Although I wouldn’t recommend leaving your dog alone at a campsite (against the rules at most campgrounds) sometimes you just can’t bring your dog along. Check out this post explaining how to safely leave a dog alone on your campsite.