5 Adult Summer Camps Made for Adults and Dogs · The Wildest

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5 Adult Summer Camps Made For You and Your Dog

Settle into a cabin with your pup and live the summer camp dream together.

by Rebecca Wallick, J.D.
Updated June 13, 2024
Dogs play outside at summer camp.
Courtesy of @canyonviewranch

When you catch your pup happily barking or wagging their tail in their sleep, here’s what they’re probably dreaming about: summer camp. A good, old-fashioned camp with rustic cabins and campfire songs where they can swim, run free, and snack on watermelon — where their human can come and play (and nap), too.

That’s right: The classic summer camp experience you remember from childhood — swimming, hiking, boating, rustic cabins, campfire songs and lots of socializing — tailored to four-footed guests. That means days packed with agility, flyball, Rally-O, lure coursing, dock diving, clicker training, freestyle, and even painting. Human campers can work on their animal communication, canine massage, and much more.

Summer camp for pet parents and dogs

Research dog camps to determine which best meets your vacation goals. Some focus on competitive agility and obedience, others on off-leash games and hiking, and some are quite rustic. Each camp has its own flavor, style and emphasis, but here are a few favorites: 

Dog Scouts of America — Saint Helen, Michigan

Dog Scout camps are held in the woods of Michigan in July, with “mini camps” held in Texas in November. Participants can take classes and earn badges in topics like obedience, nose work, kayaking, dancing, and more while at camp. If you’re interested in a longer-term, community-based membership, Dog Scouts of America is the camp for you — events are held throughout the year all over the country, and you and your dog can earn badges on your own time. Upcoming camp dates are July 8 through July 13. Prices start at $750, with repeat camper and early bird discounts.

Camp Unleashed — Blue Ridge, North Carolina; Poconos, Pennsylvania

Camp Unleashed is a four-day retreat focused on rejuvenation and relaxation for you and your pup. If you and your pet are certified city slickers, this is a great opportunity to immerse yourselves in nature and bond in new ways.

All activities are optional, and the possibilities are endless, so you and your dog are free to choose if you’re craving parkour and hiking or massages and arts-and-crafts. Camp runs in August and October, with upcoming dates of August 30 through September 2 in Pennsylvania and October 10 through October 13 in North Carolina. Prices start at $749 and go up to $1,349, depending on which accommodations you prefer.

Canine Camp Getaway — Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; East Durham, New York

Canine Camp Getaway is held in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in June and East Durham, New York in September. Although the campground itself isn’t as spacious as others, the Canine Camp Getaway has the added bonus of a dog-friendly bar, nightly entertainment, and nearby towns with activities such as shopping and kayaking.

When you aren’t belting (and barking!) at dog-friendly karaoke, you can catch a seminar led by expert veterinarians and trainers. Canine Camp Getaway is ideal for humans and pets who are creatures of comfort — you won’t have to miss out on private baths, air conditioning, wi-fi, or cable while you’re adventuring. The next camp will be held from September 23 through September 29. Rates start at $775 and go up to $2,100.

Maian Meadows Dog Camp — Lake Wenatchee, Washington

Located on the gorgeous Lake Wenatchee in Washington State, Maian Meadows Dog Camp is a weekend-long retreat for dogs and humans who want a rustic, outdoorsy break from modern life. Optional group activities include a dog costume contest, a dog poetry contest, and lots of games.

Individual activities include swimming and hiking along the gorgeous Lake Wenatchee coast. Cabins are bare-bones and don’t include plumbing, so only choose Maian Meadows if you’re willing to rough it. Camp runs September 13 to 15. The camp costs $190 for one person and one dog, plus $10 for any additional dogs.

Yellowstone Dog Sports — Red Lodge, Montana

Yellowstone Dog Sports focuses on agility and obedience training. All levels are welcome at this four-day-long camp where your pup can learn skills from herding to, yes, canine dancing. Yellowstone offers two camps in July and August, with the next camp on July 9 through July 13. Prices start at $700 and go up to $1,100.

Plus some camps just for dogs:

Eva’s Play Pups Countryside Dog Camp — Union Dale, Pennsylvania

Eva’s Play Pups is a 66-acre, fenced-in farm in the Poconos where your dog can run and explore to their heart’s content, all while under the supervision of thoroughly trained Canine Camp Counselors. Swimming, hiking, and individual playtimes are just some of the enriching activities your dog can partake in. Rates are $75 per night during the regular season, $100 per night for peak season, and $120 to $130 per night during the holiday season.

Camp Bow Wow — Hoboken, New Jersey

Camp Bow Wow offers spacious play yards for your dog to explore with their new puppy friends. Dogs sleep in spacious boarding with a cot and fleece blanket. Anxious about leaving your pup? Camp Bow Wow has you covered — you can check in on your dog at any time through camera live streams. Overnight boarding prices vary by location.

Canyon View Ranch — Topanga Canyon, California

Featured on Access Hollywood, Animal Planet, HGTV, and more, Canyon View Ranch is basically the Ritz for dogs. The large outdoor playlands are modeled after Disneyland and feature pools, agility playsets, and massive fenced-in yards. Canyon View Ranch costs $100 per night or $110 per night during holidays.

Is your dog camp-ready?

Solid, basic obedience skills — sit, stay, coming when called — are critical for off-leash games, heavy-duty play, hikes, swimming, and other activities. Good manners help everyone — pups and humans — relax. Here are five skills and traits your dog should have to get the most out of the dog camp experience.

1. Coming when called, reliably

Recall is high on the list for Annie Brody, creator and director of Camp Unleashed in Massachusetts. Reliable recall “is a biggie, especially for hiking off-leash. We ask people to practice this in safe ways prior to camp if they don’t feel their dog’s recall is totally reliable. It’s also important for heavy-duty play, so you can safely control energy that might get too high.” Your nearby off-leash dog park is perfect for practicing this important skill.

2. Good socialization

Young dogs should understand verbal cues from other dogs asking them to curb their enthusiasm, while older dogs should tolerate being jostled and bumped by frolicking youngsters, who often move like crashing waves through groups of people and dogs as they play. Little dogs should not be afraid of playful or sniffing big dogs. “Dogs must play well or at least be neutral with other dogs of all kinds and sizes,” Brody says. Your dog park is a great place to practice this skill, too.

3. Flexibility and willingness to share

The most popular camp dog is willing to share toys — no hoarding that favorite squeaker toy! — as well as cabin space. Resource guarding isn’t compatible with camp, and it’s important for dogs not to be jealous when you offer treats to or interact with another dog. Your dog needs to be ready to share the love.

4. Ability to chill alone

If your dog has separation anxiety, they might not be a good fit for camp. “They should be able to rest quietly in your cabin or in a crate without incessant barking,” Brody says. Just like toddlers, dogs get ramped up at camp. A nap each day helps them maintain their composure and manners while you enjoy meals with the group — or your own nap.

5. Lots of patience

Your dog will need to be super patient with you when you ask them to show off their tricks for a camp contest or when you take endless photos of them at various camp locations and activities. They’ll also need to be patient with other humans, who constantly want to meet and touch them. Your pup will also need patience with their canine co-campers who insist on sniffing, frequently and closely. And, finally, with having their usual day-to-day routine disrupted in such a wonderfully exciting way.

Rebecca Wallick, J.D.

Rebecca Wallick, was long-time contributing editor for The Bark magazine and retired family law attorney, she lives with two dogs and runs mountain trails at every opportunity.

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