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7 UNWRITTEN Rules of Camping with a Dog

| Updated Apr 7, 2024

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 our dogs on adventures is one of the greatest pleasures around. 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.

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7 Unwritten Rules of Camping with a Dog

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, we have an entire Amazon Shopping List devoted to our favorite products for traveling with our dog, Bo. You might find helpful items for your furry friend, too!)

1. Walk Them AWAY From Campsites to Do Their Business

7 UNWRITTEN Rules of Camping with a Dog

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.

2. Use Biodegradable or Compostable Dog Poop Bags

Campers love nature, which means we also love protecting it. Unfortunately, many dog owners overlook the negative effect plastic bags have on our planet, especially dog poop bags!

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.

Just think: spending a couple more dollars on biodegradable or compostable bags prevents countless plastic bags from polluting our environment for hundreds of years.

3. Don't Let Them Bark Incessantly!

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Dogs bark– we 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 are away. 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 nearly 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. To learn more, read Dog Barking While Camping? (How to Stop Your Dog or Neighbor’s Dog).

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 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. Our favorite way to do that is to use Waggle.

We 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. A raised camping dog bed is a great idea, too.

We have a list of 10 Great Products to Keep Your Dog Cool, including cooling bandanas, cooling mat, dog paw wax, and more. 

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! We're talking about ticks.

Lime 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. 

We 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. Learn more by reading Top 7 Pet-Sitting Apps for RVers (& Bonus Monitor). Speaking of which, you can also Make Money While RVing as a Pet Sitter!

Top 7 Pet-Sitting Apps for RVers (& Bonus Monitor)

7. 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 great 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. Truly, watching this video will show you how cool this technology is! 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!

Tips & Tricks for RVing with Dogs

While we love having our dog Bo along for the ride with us, we know it can be a challenge to make RV life more pet friendly. Here's some tips and tricks that may help you along the way. Check out our free dog guide for RVers.

What About Traveling with Cats?!

10 Purrfect Cat Travel Accessories for RV Lifestyle

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.

We have a list of the 10 Purrfect Cat Travel Accessories for your RV Lifestyle, from cat carriers to toys to leashes.

Mike and Jennifer's Ultimate Michigan and Great Lakes Bundle – THREE ebooks

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This bundle contains our ever-popular Michigan Upper Peninsula 7-Stop Adventure Guide PLUS the NEW LOWER Michigan Adventure Guide PLUS the US Side Tour of the Great Lakes! This ULTIMATE Bundle will help you keep enjoying Michigan and the Great Lakes for years!

Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-04-07

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

8 Responses to “7 UNWRITTEN Rules of Camping with a Dog”

April 08, 2024at10:49 pm, Pam Williams said:

I agree on this. And there are particular breeds that will take the shock just to be able to run free – huskies for one. It’s just too risky.


April 08, 2024at11:56 am, Lisa Christman said:

Recommending an invisible fence is not a good idea! Not only do invisible fences often fail to properly contain the dog (no/low battery power or the dog winds up breaking through) but they do not keep other animals out. Not to mention the anxiety for the dog learning to be in an electric fence and other campers anxiety when they walk by with their dogs and think your dog is loose! A invisible fence is just that…Invisable! Many dogs in an electric fence will react to others going by and will take the shock to get out in their over stimulated state. Just say NO to electric (ie shock) collars and fences.


April 07, 2024at3:00 pm, Curtis Petro said:

Waggle costs way too much for their service way too much. We use Canary not only can you watch your temperature you can watch your pet and RV even talk to your pet and an alarm system 5 times the benefits at about half to less the monthly cost!!


April 08, 2024at8:37 am, C Desi said:

Waggle is the same cost as Canary.


April 19, 2023at6:29 pm, Eli Richardson said:

We bought an RV last week, and we’d like to use it for the first time next weekend and take our dog along with us, so we’re looking for more information on what we’d do when staying at an RV park. We’re glad you talked about keeping our dog secure in our RV to avoid making other campers uncomfortable, so we’ll keep it in mind for sure. Thank you. [Link deleted]


April 20, 2023at9:10 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for the message, Eli, and have a great first trip out there with your RV! Team RV Lifestyle


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