Dog Etiquette for Campgrounds & RV Parks

Dog owners have been facing scrutiny at campground and RV parks all across the country–from breed, size, and number of dogs. Seemingly strict campground and RV park ruling on whether or not they allow dogs on their facility may be based on their hospitality-based insurance company’s permit. These 'rules' do not originate solely from the campground or RV park owners, they can also come from local legislation or insurance companies.

Two small dogs on a rock with mountains and a lake in the background.
Take a look at this helpful guide to keep you and your furry friends feeling welcome for a less stressful visit.

Dog Tags and Immunization Records

Before trekking out with your fifth wheel or travel trailer, it's important to have identification on your dog's harness in the event that you are separated from your dog. You should also ensure your dog's immunizations are up to date–especially the rabies vaccine. It may be useful to bring a copy of immunization records with you.

Honesty is the Best Policy

Anytime the campground or RV park staff ask questions about your pets, honesty is the best policy. For example, they may ask what breed your dog is. The reasoning is most hospitality insurance companies curtail coverage of certain so-called "aggressive breeds." If you lie and your dog injures or kills another dog or guest, you will be held liable for all expenses and may be prosecuted in the court of law.

If the campground or RV park posts a dog limit, be honest if you have more than their specified number. When you are found violating the dog limit rule, the campground or RV park owner most likely will ask you to vacate the premise with no refund.

Lastly, you should never claim your dogs are service animals if they are not certified as such. This too could land you in deep doo-doo. The penalties for violating these particular ADA laws vary. For instance, in California, it is a misdemeanor to falsely and knowingly claim that you are the owner or trainer of a service animal. The crime is punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Claiming your untrained dog as a service dog puts certified ADA service dogs and the persons needing them at risk.

A service dog on a leash.

Pooper Scooper

This is probably the most violated rule of campgrounds and RV parks. Not only is it unsanitary, it could potentially be dangerous as well. Your dog(s) could be harboring a parasite that might be life-threatening to other dogs or even humans. So always pick up after your dog.

When in Doubt, Opt for the Harness

While dog collars are cute and fashionable, they could cause your dog to choke if they get caught on something. Not to mention that dog collars really offer no safe or humane control. Likewise, dogs can slip their collar and get loose. By wearing a harness properly, your dog won't incur neck injuries, suffocate or slip out of your grasp.

A small dog on a harness outside.

Skip the Retractable Leashes

Not everyone loves and appreciates your dogs–including other dogs. Nine out of 10 campgrounds require dog owners to keep their dogs on a 6-foot lead. The reasoning is three-fold. First, it’s for your own dog's safety to keep him close to you. Second, it's for others' dog’s safety as well as other campground guests. Lastly, some locations may be home to hidden dangers that could hurt you or your dogs, such as snakes, toxic lizards and frogs, cacti, poisonous plants and flowers, contaminated water, etc.

We understand your dog wants to explore, but leashes serve a great purpose. Keeping your dogs close to you will lessen their ability to get into (and get you into) trouble, including paying fines.

A puppy in a harness on the beach.

Additionally, if your dogs become separated from their leashes, they may eat or sniff something harmful, an without having seen what the dog has gotten into, you won't be able to tell the vet what caused the problem so they can treat your furry friend accordingly.

Nobody Likes Being Alone

One of the campground rules we see most often is never leave dogs unattended outside, whether in an enclosed pen or tied up.

Hush Down, Little Doggie

Last on our list may seem a little picky, but not everyone wants to hear your precious dog's voice. In today's society, we all should be mindful of unwarranted noise. There are families who roadschool and need quiet, or a night-shift worker may be sleeping a couple RV doors down from you. Furthermore, your next door neighbor surely won't appreciate the constant yapping every time another guest walks by your site. Train your dog only to bark in the event of danger or discomfort.

A dog barking in a park.

We hope this list acts as a simple reminder of how not to be the person who allows your dogs to do whatever they want. Remember, campgrounds and RV parks host many guests, including other pets. By following these rules, everyone will enjoy a pleasant stay.


This article was written by Dan & Lisa Brown of Always On Liberty.