Campground Etiquette for Dogs

How Tos & Tips

One of the best things about camping is that your dog can come along. After all, who wouldn’t want to enjoy a weekend out in nature with their furry friend? Dog camping is some of the best camping there is!

All that said, it is important that you understand basic campground etiquette for dogs (and their owners) before you head out. Keeping these simple rules and tips in mind will help ensure everyone in the campground stays safe and happy so everyone can have the best time possible while out exploring the world. 

Man taking his dog camping and hiking

Finding Dog-Friendly Campsites

The first step to planning a perfectly dog-friendly camping trip? Finding dog-friendly campgrounds, of course! There are actually several dog-friendly campsites located inside of national park campgrounds (though not all areas of every national park allow dogs, so you will want to do your research). Of course, those are far from the only options. Below are some of our favorite places to go camping with dogs!

4 Paws Kingdom Dog Retreat and Campground

First, there is 4 Paws Kingdom Dog Retreat and Campground. As you might have guessed, this place is all about pups, and your doggo is sure to be impressed. Take Fido to play in the fully fenced-in pond or run in one of the onsite off-leash dog parks. Once you’re done, be sure to head to the self-service grooming salon to get all cleaned up.

Want an extra special experience? Grab a fenced-in campsite so you and your dog can hang out outdoors without worry. 

Normandy Farms Campground

Another amazing place to take your dog, Normandy Farms Campground features Freedom Trail Park, an enormous 1.5-acre dog park. This spot is absolutely awesome for pups of all ages and sizes!

Agility equipment provides a fun challenge, the dog wash gives you a spot to clean Fido up, and the doggie drinking fountain ensures he stays hydrated.

The best part? This campground features a kennel where your dog can stay while you go out exploring!

Lake George RV Park

Another dog-friendly campground, Lake George RV Park is an excellent place to vacation with your pet. Here, your dogs can wander and play in Charlie’s Dog Park. This park is a huge, two-acre space with a fence all around. There is a super fun fire hydrant spray fountain for water play with your doggo, and the shaded walking paths and dog agility course ensure your pup gets plenty of exercise. 

When you’re done running around, be sure to head to a dog water fountain to rehydrate, and then take your furry friend for a treat from one of the dog treat vending machines.

Other Options

If none of the dog-friendly campgrounds above fit the bill, don’t worry! There are plenty of other campgrounds out there that will welcome your pup with open arms.

To give just a few examples:

  • KOA campgrounds almost always allow pets and even have special dog parks.
  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness is a great place to stay with your dog while visiting Disney World.
  • State parks (and as mentioned before, national parks) often allow pets as well. 

Not sure how to locate a pet-friendly campground? This article lists some pretty great options! You can use BringFido to search for a campground that allows dogs in your area. Alternatively, you can always call a campground you’d like to stay in to see if dogs are allowed. 

Check Campground Regulations and Guidelines

Once you decide on the perfect campground, be sure to check their regulations and guidelines. Different campgrounds will have different rules surrounding camping with dogs, and it is important that you follow these rules for the safety and comfort of all involved. 

If you can’t find a list of rules regarding dogs, ask the campground what their rules are. They should be happy to help!

Practice Good Campsite Etiquette

So you’ve found a dog-friendly campground and gotten a list of rules, all of which you intend to follow. What’s next? Well, enjoying your trip, of course! But while you do that, be sure to practice good dog camping etiquette by following these simple guidelines below. 

Respect Quiet Hours

Dogs need to respect campground quiet hours just like everyone else. If you aren’t confident you can keep your pup quiet at night, you may want to do some more training before you head out on a camping trip. 

Give Other Campers Space

When out walking, make sure you give other campers (and their pets) plenty of space. You never know who might be afraid of dogs or what pets might react negatively to your puppy. If you want to approach somebody, be sure to ask first. 

Pick Up After Your Pup

Never, ever leave your dog’s poop on the ground for someone else to clean up (or step in). Always carry poop bags so you can clean up after your pet. 

Grab a Leash

Some campgrounds may not have any specific rules about leashing your pets. Nevertheless, you should absolutely keep your dog on a leash that is under six feet long unless you are spending time in a spot that is marked as an off-leash area. This protects you, your dog, and the other campers. 

Leave No Trace: Dog Edition

Another thing that dogs have to do right alongside humans? Practicing “leave no trace.”

For dogs (and their owners), this involves picking up their waste, sticking to established hiking trails to avoid damaging the ecosystem (check if a trail is dog-friendly on AllTrails), and leaving wild animals alone. 

Dog on a hiking trail

Preparing for Your Camping Trip with Your Dog

Before you head out the door to seek out adventure with Fido, you’ll want to make sure the two of you are totally prepared. Be sure to go on a practice drive to ensure your pup can handle the car ride (practice in the RV if you can) and you might even go on a practice camping trip to see how Fido does sleeping in a new place. 

Below are a few other things you should do before you go on a dog camping trip. 

Schedule a Vet Appointment

You’ll want to take your dog to the vet before you hit the road. Make sure your pup is up to date on vaccinations (some campgrounds will ask for proof), and ask the vet if there is anything you should do for your dog before or during the trip. 

It’s also a good idea to do a heartworm treatment as well as a flea and tick treatment before you go, as bugs can be pretty common at campgrounds. 

What to Pack

Wondering what kind of dog camping gear you should pack when you go camping? Luckily, they don’t need much to be comfortable and happy.

Camping gear we recommend taking for your pup:

Make Sure Your Dog Has an ID

You will want to make sure your dog’s collar has an ID tag with your contact information, so Fido can make it home should the two of you become separated. Additionally, you’ll want to grab a copy of your pup’s immunization record in case the campground asks to see it.

These are especially important items, so don’t leave home without them!

Dog Training and Obedience

When it comes to dog campground etiquette, good training for your dog is crucial. If your pet cannot follow basic commands no matter the situation, you will want to get some more training under their belt before you hit the road with them. 

Refresh Your Training with Camping in Mind

Even if your dog has been through training before, it never hurts to refresh your training before each camping season. Whether it’s your dog’s first time or tenth time to go through training, you will want to focus specifically on skills that apply when camping. 

These include:

  • Keeping quiet (even when there is a person or animal nearby)
  • Sitting and staying on command (no matter the situation)
  • Following you closely on walks
  • Returning to your side on command

Socialization Skills

If your dog isn’t used to playing with other dogs and people outside of your household, it might also be a good idea to practice your pup’s social skills.

Once you have some basic commands down well, head to a local park to play with other dogs and say hello to some strangers. You might even head to a local campground to throw in the sights and sounds found in a campground as well.

This will help Fido understand how to behave around new people, pets, places, sounds, and smells. 

Dog Safety while Camping

Obviously, you always want your furry friend to be safe. For that reason, it is important that you keep the following things in mind while out camping with your pup.

Never Leave Your Dog Unattended, and Follow Leash Rules

First, it is extremely important that you never leave your dog unattended. A dog left in a camper can get into all kinds of trouble, and if it’s hot or cold out and you lose power, your dog could be left in extreme temperatures for hours. 

We know this is a tough rule to follow if you want to go out exploring, but it is possible to find hiking trails, state parks, and national park locations that allow dogs. Otherwise, a local kennel should be able to help you out with some dog-sitting should you need it. 

Even when you’re with your dog, if you’re outside (and not in an off-leash area), your dog should be on a leash. We know we covered this before, but it is so important that it bears repeating. The leash will keep your pup close even when something exciting happens and they want to run away, ensuring they don’t get lost or hurt. 

Protect Your Dog’s Paws

Remember that the ground can get very, very hot during the summer (and sometimes even in the spring and fall). Always, always check the ground by placing your bare hand on the ground for at least 10 seconds. If it’s too hot to hold your hand there, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. Dog shoes can help with this, but if it’s super hot, it might be best to avoid pavement and asphalt entirely. 

Stay Hydrated

In the hot summer months, it is incredibly easy for dogs to get dehydrated when outside and having a good time. Make sure you carry a collapsible dog bowl and give your dog water periodically while out hiking or playing. Reminding your dog to drink regularly will help you avoid uncomfortable dehydration and maybe even a vet visit. 

Wildlife and Poisonous Plants

Obviously, when you’re out camping, you are surrounded by plants and animals. Some of these can be harmful to your dog. Certain plants can cause your dog to become sick and others may make them itchy. Meanwhile, certain snakes and bugs can bite and sting, and skunks can spray. Keeping your pup on a six-foot (or shorter) dog leash at all times will help ensure they don’t get into poisonous plants or bother local wildlife. 

Camping with dogs is a ton of fun, but as you can see, there are also plenty of things you will need to think about in order to ensure you’re following campground etiquette and keeping everyone safe. You’ll need to 1) ensure your pet is up to date on vaccinations and medications, 2) pack the right camping gear, 3) keep your dog on a leash, and 4) watch your pup carefully to ensure they don’t wander off or cause somebody harm. 

Fortunately, these things are all easy enough to handle and are well worth it to be able to experience camping with your furry friend—an experience that is sure to create bonds that will last a lifetime. 

Need an RV to take Fido camping? Search our site to find the perfect pet-friendly RV in your area!

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