When my boyfriend (now husband) and I moved into our first apartment in Missoula, Montana, he immediately started looking for a dog to adopt. I was gone for ten days at a time working trail crew, and he wanted a buddy to take on hikes in the mountains of Montana while I was away. He adopted our first dog, Franconia, from the local shelter. A few months later we adopted a second dog, Lemhi. They became our adventure partners for hiking, camping, skiing, snowshoeing, and road trips.
Camping with a dog can be so much fun. It’s also an added layer of responsibility—you now need to manage another animal’s comfort away from home as well as your own. There’s also the responsibility of making sure you are a great camp neighbor…and that your dog is too. Here are five rules of etiquette for camping with your dog.
Keep Your Dog on Leash
I have yet to come across a private or public land campground that does not require dogs to be on leash. Pack a sturdy, 6-foot leash for walking your dog around the campground, as well as for securing your dog when you’re hanging out in the campsite.
Keeping your dog on leash, apart from being a rule at most campgrounds, is also a matter of simple etiquette. Many adults, children, and pets do not like strange dogs running free through their campsite or approaching them on the road. Free roaming dogs also can have a negative impact on wildlife and birds.
Never Leave Your Dog Unattended
Like the leash rule, most campgrounds do not allow unattended dogs to remain in a campsite. Wherever you go, your dog must go with you. The exception to this rule may be if you have a well behaved, quiet dog who you are able to leave behind in your climate-controlled RV. Be sure to plan activities that are dog-friendly, especially in the summer.
Pick Up the Poop
Is there anything more off-putting than a campsite that smells like dog poop? Even lifelong dog owners can’t claim to like that smell. Pick up after your dog—every time—and dispose of the waste in a trash receptacle. Make this task super easy by buying a small waste bag dispenser and attaching it to your dog’s leash.
Camping near a barking dog is one way to ruin a camping trip, fast. Control your dog’s barking by keeping him or her near you at all times, and never leaving the dog unattended in your campsite. Many campgrounds have rules about loud dogs (and loud humans, for that matter), and will ask you to pack up and leave if you are disturbing other campers.
Ask Permission to Pet Dogs
This one is for the humans. No matter where you are—but especially in a campground—be sure to ask permission before petting a dog. In a campground, because everyone is out in the open sharing a common space, sometimes people forget that not all dogs are friendly or welcoming to strangers. The dog may be timid, aggressive, ill, or not respond well to children. Walking through the campground is not an open invitation to pet a dog, so cover your bases by asking the owner if you can come up and say hello.
I love camping with my dogs, and feel bereft when they do not join me on a camping trip. By following these five etiquette rules, you can have a great camping experience with your pet without disturbing the experience of those around you.