Proper Canine Camping Etiquette For Well-Mannered Mutts

I’m not a camper. Unfortunately for me, my husband and son are, as are my two dogs. They enjoy the freedom and fresh air the outdoors bring, and they don’t mind when the hot dogs come off the campfire, either!

But if we are to take family camping trips, we want to include all the members of our family, right? Sometimes, it’s hard to find campgrounds that will even allow our dogs to join us because they’ve been so burned by previous guests with pets who have not treated nature or the campgrounds with the most respect.

The camping and pet-friendly travel experts at GoPetFriendly.com have some tips to help make your camping trip one that all family members enjoy, while also being responsible citizens and campers.

Related: Top 10 Canine Camping Essentials

Most importantly, GoPetFriendly camp experts recommend basic rule following. Know what the rules are, and follow them so that you don’t muck it up for others behind you who hope to bring their pets. Don’t assume that because the leash rule is the way it is at one campground, it’s that way at another. Before you even make the reservation, talk with the campground’s administration and be sure you all the rules.

Here are some more tips they recommend to make the experience fantastic:

  • Clean up after yourselves! This is camping; your mama isn’t around to clean up after you, and especially after your pup’s poops! Just because you are in the wild, don’t think you can leave the doggie doo au natural. It can be gross to other campers, and just think about how that beautiful, natural campground will look if every pet owner let their dogs use the campground as their own personal toilet? Yuck. Don’t be that guy (or gal) who watches and walks away–in fact, if you see someone who has done that? Clean up after them too, just to make sure that pets will always be welcome there.
  • Leave leashes on. Yes, we know you have the best, most obedient dog out there. She doesn’t need to have the leash on all the time because you’ve spent the effort of training on her. But, not everyone camping likes dogs (we know, we don’t get it either!) and they have the right to enjoy their trip as much as you do. Besides, not every dog is as obedient as yours, and it’s better to follow the blanket policy of all dogs on leash, than to risk those that are not trained to ruin it for anyone else.
  • Be considerate of noise. Do you love when the neighbor’s dog just won’t stop barking? Yeah, neither do any of your new camping buddies. If your dog is anything like mine, it’ll bark like a ferocious attack dog at the slightest fall of a leaf from the tree, and you know that gets old, fast. GoPetFriendly suggests having lots of treats to help keep Fido calmed, quiet and distraction free.
  • Left alone, camping edition: You may enjoy the great outdoors, but your pup enjoys you in the great outdoors. Leaving him alone on your site may make him anxious, and anxious dogs tend to cause problems for themselves and those around them. If you absolutely can’t take your dog with you, GoPetFriendly suggests a little trial run to see how he does alone. Leave all the calming, interesting things to occupy your pet while you’re gone, and then try to see what happens when you’ve snuck out. If your dog is going crazy thinking you’re gone (and presumably, never coming back!), don’t leave him alone to annoy the other campers. Work on training him to be okay by himself in small intervals, but at a minimum, always be sure one member of your party is there until you can trust he won’t drive the other campers mad.
  • Don’t plan on staking your claim. You may think that tethering your dog outside your tent is a win-win; she gets fresh air but is still tight in your grasp, but many campgrounds simply don’t allow tethering because it can put pets at risk for the wild predators in the area (you are camping, you know!). Instead of tethering, consider a doggie zip line you can do yourself as a great way to keep your pup safe and having a great time as well!

Related: Win Ultimate Prizes on the Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip

  • Respect personal boundaries. While those of us taking our pets camping may get all giddy at the site of another family with pets, there is a chance they just want to be out in the great outdoors to get away from other people (and pets!). Respect that space; it’s always a good idea to ask before petting any dog, but honestly, don’t take it personally if people just want to soak in the nature and not do too much interaction. It’s not you, it’s them, we promise.
  • Be prepared! Many campgrounds will require vaccination records if they accept pets, so be prepared to have your pet up-to-date on immunizations, as well as have those papers with you. You don’t want to go somewhere that your pet may come in contact with infectious diseases, and you don’t want to spread any to others either.
    And, with regard to being prepared, just be prepared to be flexible. Just because you think your pets will love the adventure, the reality is, he or she may not, and you don’t want to make him or her miserable by forcing the full stay. If your dog isn’t enjoying it, odds are, you won’t either, so don’t be afraid to pack up and try again another time, perhaps after you’ve had a few shorter trips that may teach him or her how much fun camping can be. 

The ultimate goal of camping with your pets is to have a furry family friendly adventure full of fun and good memories. Follow these simple tips, and you can just about guarantee that’ll happen! And, be sure to ‘road trip’ with our friends at GoPetFriendly as they are on their ultimate pet-friendly road trip!


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