Campground Pet Etiquette: Camping Rules for Dogs and Cats

Dogs or cats love to go camping! After all, they want to be a part of your journey too. But, as pet owners, it’s our responsibility to practice simple camping pet etiquette to not allow our dogs and cats become a nuisance to other campers. So, how do we make our pets feel more welcome without annoying our camping neighbors?

Have you noticed there’s a drastic uptick in the lack of pet etiquette resulting in numerous complaints to campground staff?

In fact, the most reported complaints are dog owners not cleaning up their dog’s poop, cat owners allowing their cats to run feral and spraying, excessive dog barking, fibbing about dog breeds, and worse of all, faking Service Animals.

Campers and campground owners are getting fed up with the lack of proper pet etiquette at campgrounds and even off grid campsites. Seriously, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to find campground owners rolling up the welcome mat for Fido and Fluffy.

So, how do we help make campground staff and our fellow campers more receptive of our pets? It all comes down to simply following the campground rules.

Campground Pet Etiquette: Camping Rules for Dogs and Cats

This article contains affiliate links. By clicking on them, it doesn’t cost you anything extra. Full disclosure here.

Campground Rules regarding Pet Etiquette

UGH! Don’t we all hate being handed that big sheet of paper with all those silly campground rules?

However, it’s not necessarily the campground owners conjuring up those campground rules that pertain to their pet guests. Actually, it’s their insurance providers who are making the rules due to excessive liability claims from dog bites and attacks.

As well, local municipalities have legislated ordinances are banning certain dog breeds in their jurisdictions due to high volume dog attacks or dog bites.

All that said, how can we, as pet owners not be given the stink eye each time we want to take our dogs and cats while camping?

By simply following these simple pet etiquette guidelines.

We’ve also included some helpful pet camping tips so you, your dogs and cats feel more welcome. And, so your camping neighbors won’t be so annoyed. 

Pet Identification and Health 

Before hooking up your RV and hauling off to your favorite campground or camping spot, it would be a good idea to bring your pets’ health record.

Pet Etiquette - Dog Tags ID

Also, make certain your contact information is on your pet’s harness or collar tag in the event that your dog or cat decides to escape to go on a journey of their own. If someone finds them, they’ll know who to call.

Your pets’ immunizations should be current; especially their rabies vaccine. And if they’ve not been already, it’s a good time to get them micro-chipped.

Pet Camping Tip: Attach a disposable write-on tag with your name and campsite number to your dog or cat’s collar or harness.

Temporary Pet ID Tag

Pick and Pack their Poop!

This is probably the most violated rule of RV parks and campgrounds everywhere. And it seems it’s getting worse every year.

Pet Etiquette - Dog Poop

First, your pet could be harboring a parasite that could be potentially life-threatening to other dogs, cats and even humans. But also, if you’re boondocking or camping off the grid, it poses a risk to the environment and wildlife just the same.

But let’s face it, it’s just plain nasty and unsanitary. And if you think your fellow campers don’t notice, think again. Don’t be purposely ignoring what your pet is doing by looking on your phone or attempting to look distracted.

Just pick it up with an earth-friendly biodegradable poop bag and be done with it. Leave no trace means taking what your pet leaves behind too!

Pet Camping Tip: Attach a pooch poop bag dispenser to your dog’s leash. Then you always have bags available for their deposits. No more “I forgot my bag” excuses!

Leash your Beasts!

This is another hot topic amongst campers is loose dogs and cats. While your pet may react to your voice command, that doesn’t dissuade you from adhering to the campground rules and local leash laws.

Pet Etiquette - Dog Camping Sleeping

All campgrounds and RV parks require pet owners to keep their dogs and cats on a maximum 6′ leash for good reasons.

Again, campgrounds and RV parks pay dearly for liability insurance. To prevent dog bites, frightening or charging other pets or campers, or entering others’ campsites, you should keep your pets on a 6′ leash at all times while they’re outside.

But skip those retractable leashes! While we understand your dog or cat likes to explore, keeping your pet closer to you will lessen his and your ability to get into trouble.

Always On Liberty - Pet Etiquette - Cat on on leash on RV Mat -2

Short sturdy leashes are for your own dog’s and cat’s safety and for better control. But also, for other walkers and their pets’ safety.

But one thing many pet owners overlook is there may be hidden or even obvious dangers that could hurt you or your dog or cat such as snakes, toxic lizards and frogs, cactus, poisonous plants and flowers, contaminated water, etc.

If you allow your dog or cat too much lead, they may poke their nose in, eat or play with something that may harm him.

Then, if your pet becomes ill or injured, you won’t have seen what he’s eaten, stepped on, or been attacked by. You won’t be able to tell the Veterinarian so they can treat your pet properly.

Really though, appreciate that not everyone loves your dog or cat they way you do. So, be a respectful pet owner by keeping your dogs and cats on a short leash as specified in the campground rules.

For Dogs:

For Cats:

Harness your Pet

Paralleling off of leashing your pets, while dog and cat collars are fashionable, pet collars are easy to slip out of.

But they also can become a choking hazard if they get it caught on something or pull excessively on their leash.

Dog Harness

So, a properly fitted dog harness or cat harness will allow better control of your pet. And they will be much more comfortable too!

For Dogs: All Sizes

For Cats: All Sizes

Read more: Cool Camping Gear for Dogs and Cats

Never Leave Pets Unattended Outside

Another campground rule often broken is pet owners leaving their dogs and cats unattended outside.

Always On Liberty - Pet Etiquette - Cat Harness

Read more: How to Survive RVing with Cats

Even if it’s in an enclosed play yard, small pet play pen, or cat screen tent, or their leash tied to a tree, picnic table or your RV, it’s unsafe for them to be left alone outside at your campsite.

Not only can they break free and set out on their own nomadic way but also, wildlife or other loose pets can attack them while you’re not looking.

All Size Pet   Play Yard

Small Pet      Play Pen


Cat              Screen Tent


But, something to also take into consideration is leaving your anxious pet inside while you go out from a couple hours to all day. When you get back to your RV, kindly ask your neighbor(s) if your pup (or cat!) was vocal and loud.

Consider either getting a pet sitter or boarding him for the day. There are ways you can keep him occupied such as turning on the television or radio low to drown out some of the noises outside. Draw the shades and make certain they have plenty of food, water and toys to occupy him.

Barking and Yapping Dogs

Another biggie on the campground complainers list is loud barking dogs. While dog owners can seem to tune it out, your camping neighbors find it annoying.

Always On Liberty - Pet Etiquette - Barking Dog

We all have to remember, there are families who need to concentrate on homeschooling or the baby is down for a nap. Or a night-shift worker may be trying to sleep next door. With remote work on the rise, it’s difficult to conduct a Zoom meeting with a dog barking loudly right outside the window.

It’s poor pet etiquette to allow your dog to bark constantly or yapping every time a camper or dog walker strolls passed your site. So, train your dog(s) to only bark in the event of danger or discomfort.

Pet Camping Tip: There are several different bark deterrent training aids. You may have to try a few different ones to find the one that you and your dog can agree on.

Ultra Sonic Dog Training Aid

BlueTooth Dog Barking Trainer

Citronella Bark Deterrent Collar

Read more: Keeping Your Pets Cool in Your RV in the Summer

Be Honest About Dog Breeds, Size and Quantity

When making a reservation, the campground staff typically asks if you will be bringing your pets. Be honest about their breeds, size and how many pets will be camping with you.

As mentioned earlier in this article, campgrounds and RV parks have strict insurance policies that dictate which breeds may not be covered in case of liability.

Always On Liberty - Pet Etiquette - Dog Breed Ban

If you lie about your dog’s breed and they injure or kill a guest, you will be held liable. Further, you may be prosecuted in the court of law if you lie about your dog’s breed that is banned in certain municipalities.

Some RV parks and campgrounds have a pet quantity limit. So, be honest in reporting how many pets you are camping with; even your inside-only pets. If there is a two-pet limit, don’t think you can bring your four dogs and walk two at a time.

Should you fib about the number of pets you have reported during your reservations or check-in can result in eviction.

Also, if there’s an emergency in your RV, the fire department may not look for all of them.

If you are found violating any of these pet related campground rules, the owners and management are within their right to evict with no refund.

Save My Pet Decal

Pet Camping Tip: For your pet’s safety, adhere a save-my-pet(s) decal on the outside of your RV near the door with quantity number. In case of fire, gas leak or other emergency, first responders will know immediately how many they need to rescue.

Never Fake or Misrepresent a Service Animal

I saved the most important pet etiquette points for last; faking a Service Animal.

Sadly, there are a few who misrepresent their dog as a Service Dog so they can be granted access to buildings that disallow pets.

Pet Etiquette - Service Dog

Misrepresenting your dog as a Service Animal is not only displaying poor pet etiquette. But it can land you in heap of deep doo doo legally. Falsifying a dog (or other animal) as a Service Animal is a finable offense.

Service Dogs are not pets. They are real working animals. The work or task of a properly trained Service Dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.

A few examples of Service Dog duties include:

    • Guiding persons who are blind or deaf
    • Assisting or pulling a wheelchair
    • Protecting persons who are having a seizure
    • Alerting low blood sugar in a person with diabetes
    • Calming a person with PTSD during an anxiety attack

Some state and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the relevant State attorney general’s office.

The penalties for violating these particular ADA laws vary. 

As of 2021, 33 states have termed true bans on the fraudulent representation of pets as service animals. States without these laws may have laws that prohibit the fraudulent representation of assistance animals in housing, but those laws can be found here.

In all states, violation of these laws are misdemeanor offenses or civil infractions and some states require community service with an organization that serves the disabled as part of sentencing upon conviction.

Most importantly, claiming your untrained dog as a service dog puts certified ADA Service Dogs and the persons needing their assistance at immeasurable risk.

IMPORTANT: Pets whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support DO NOT QUALIFY  as Service Animals under the ADA.

You can find more information on Service Animals, check the American Disabilities Act website.

Camping Cat - Kandi in Camp Chair

That’s a Wrap!

These pet etiquette guidelines should help you understand how your pet’s behavior can affect others. They are a simple reminder of how not to allow your pets do whatever they want while camping.

Remember, campgrounds, RV parks and even public lands are for everyone. And that includes well-behaved pets. By following pet etiquette and campground rules, everyone will have a better camping experience; including Fluffy and Fido!

Don’t forget to read more on Camping and RVing with pets:

Keeping Your Pets Cool in Your RV in the Summer

How to Survive RVing with Cats

Cool Camping Gear for Dogs and Cats

Always On Liberty - Pet Etiquette

DISCLOSURE:We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. By clicking on them and/or making a purchase, there is no extra charge or added fees.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *