UNWRITTEN Rules for Camping with a Dog

Everyone knows you need to pick up after your dog but do you know these UNWRITTEN rules of camping with a dog?

Are you planning to take your dog on your next camping trip? If so, read this first!

Taking your pets on adventures can be one of the greatest pleasures. But, when camping with your dog there are some UNWRITTEN rules that you will want to follow. 

The following outlines seven essential rules of camping with your dog to help keep them, you, and your camping neighbors happy.

While you love having your dog along for the ride with you, there can be a challenge to make RV life more pet friendly. Here are some tips that may help you along the way. Check out my other guides for traveling with pets:

Keeping your dog on a leash and picking up after them are right at the top of the written rules of campground policies. Of course, those are the two BIG rules everyone should follow.

But they’re not the only ones! The UNWRITTEN rules of camping with a dog are just as important. By abiding by them, you’ll be spared from unwanted complaints or annoyed neighbors. Besides, you don’t want to be a bad camping neighbor, to begin with.

By the way, I have a series of posts on UNWRITTEN rules of camping:

A fake dog doing its business © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Walk them away from campsites to do their business

Even if you pick up after your dog, it’s bad etiquette to let them do their business on other people’s campsites. This is true whether they’re lifting their leg, squatting, or dumping their black tank.

Proper etiquette is to walk your dog away from others’ campsites and let them relieve themselves away from people’s belongings (including their RVs). Most campgrounds have trails, open grass areas, or even designated pet areas to use in such cases.

Dog on leash © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Use biodegradable or composting dog poop bags

Campers love nature which means we also love protecting it. It’s best to use certified compostable dog poop bags or biodegradable bags. Be careful what you buy, though! Many brands claim to be biodegradable but don’t meet ASTM D6954-04 standards.

A campground pet parade © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Don’t let them bark incessantly

Dogs bark—I get that. And most camping neighbors won’t even flinch if your dog barks every now and then. The problem is when your dog barks incessantly.

In many cases, the dog owners are blissfully unaffected since dogs usually bark more when their owners leave them unattended. It’s the neighbors that are subjected to the noise while the owners are away.

If your dog is a barker, then proper camping etiquette requires you to invest a bit of time and money in training and training products. You can almost immediately fix the problem by getting an affordable and humane bark collar for dogs. These training collars use vibrations and/or beeps to train your dog not to bark. In many cases, the beep alone works and eventually putting the collar alone on is reminder enough for the dog to stay quiet.

If you’re opposed to collars, you can learn how to teach your dog not to bark through one-on-one training. There are YouTube videos for that.

A campground pet parade © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Keep your dog cool

Leaving your dog in a hot RV is no different than leaving them in a hot car. The inside temperature of a vehicle (including RVs) can get up to 45-50 degrees F hotter than the temperature outdoors.

If you leave your dog inside your vehicle or rig, ensure it is not hotter than 70 degrees F outside. Or ensure your rig’s interior temp doesn’t exceed 80 degrees. A favorite way to do that is to use Waggle Pet Safety Monitor.

I have heard of instances where camp hosts have had to break into RVs to get the dogs inside to safety.

Tip: If you are worried about a dog left in an RV, you should notify the campground host or the police. You should not break into the RV yourself as that exposes you to serious legal risk.

This rule also covers your dog being outside in extreme heat. Make sure your pup has access to plenty of water and shade. 

Traveling with a dog © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Keep them tick-free

One of the biggest threats to your animals is some of the smallest and easily overlooked. They can also be a threat to you! I’m talking about ticks.

Lyme disease is no joke and is spread by ticks. Some milder symptoms of Lime Disease are fever, fatigue, headache, and a rash. 

But if left untreated, it can spread to your joints, heart, and nervous system. One of the worst effects causes people to be unable to think clearly for months after treatment. 

I have a few helpful articles on keeping your pet, your RV, and YOU tick-free:

6. Keep an eye on your dog (or hire someone to)

When traveling with your dog, you are bound to need to leave your rig at some point. But what do you do about your pup? 

You can buy excellent cameras that help you keep an eye on your dog when you are not around. One great option is the Furbo dog camera. Not only does it easily allow you to see what your dog is doing from your phone. It also helps keep your dog entertained by tossing treats when you tell it to!

Plus, it can alert you if your dog is barking. (Remember UNWRITTEN Rule #3)

When a camera doesn’t cut it, you can hire a pet sitter pretty much wherever you travel.

Dog on leash © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Keep your dog under your control

Ensuring your dog stays under your control is for both your own safety and other’s enjoyment of the park. Having your dog under your control means your dog is unable to approach others, wander from your campsite or general area, bother wildlife, or be in a scenario where the dog may cause harm to property, people, or animals. 

Bring and use a compliant tie line, anchor, and leash for your dog.

Many parks and campgrounds ensure your dog remains under your control by listing a maximum leash or tie line length. Examples follow:

  • National parks maximum leash length: 6 feet
  • Wisconsin State Parks maximum leash length: 8 feet
  • Michigan State Parks maximum leash length: 6 feet
  • KOA (Kampgrounds of America) maximum leash length: 6 feet
A campground pet parade © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Keep your dog secure on your campsite

Whenever you leave your dog alone at the campsite, they need to be secured in your RV. But when you’re present, it’s nice to give them a secure area to roam or play.

One fantastic device is an invisible fence. This is a way to allow your dog to roam freely and explore in a specific, designated area that you choose. This is an excellent option for boondockers or people who camp in more wide-open areas. 

There are also portable fence options like the FXW Aster Dog Playpen and IRIS USA Dog Playpen. These fences are great for standard campsites (at campgrounds where dog fences are allowed).

Looking for a way to keep your dog on your property without using a physical fence? Check out SpotOn GPS Dog Fence. Spoton works almost anywhere but you need a lot that’s at least ½ acre. Why? Because you’ll need to allow for the fence alert/warning zone. The effective boundary for your dog is 10 feet inside the fence boundary that you walk. Walk your planned boundary with SpotOn’s dog collar and your phone or draw your fence in the app. True Location™ technology builds on conventional GPS and makes it better, giving you the most reliable fence boundary that never requires calibration. So your dog can have a great adventure without risking a great escape. Get professionally-developed training programs that’ll have your dog using SpotOn in a few simple steps!

Some RVers travel with a cat © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What about traveling with cats?

Dogs are not always your best friend. Sometimes it’s your cat!

And no matter what species your furry best friend is, you should be able to take him or her along with you on your next road trip.

Traveling with a cat comes with some added challenges but it’s nothing you can’t handle especially if you’re prepared with the right cat travel accessories.

Worth Pondering…

A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones.

―Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes