Sunday, May 28, 2023


Problems with dog rules and fees in campgrounds

I had an interesting discussion with a campground manager yesterday. She was visibly upset as I walked into the office. When I asked what was wrong, Mary replied, “There are so many problems with these new dog rules and fees!”

Dog fees in campgrounds

Mary was referring to the newly instituted $20 fee for each dog that an RVer brings along with them to camp. Owners of the campground recently decided to add the extra fee, and Mary is the unfortunate one who must enforce it. We no longer have a dog, so I wasn’t aware that more and more campgrounds are charging campers an extra fee for their dog to stay. Turns out, there are several problems with dog fees.

Lost revenue

Mary explained, “Most families consider their dog as part of the family. We’re losing revenue from folks who’ve stayed with us for years! They don’t want to pay the extra. Instead, they’re choosing parks that do not charge extra for their dogs.”

I wondered aloud why the dog fee was added. “Because they can!” Mary shook her head and frowned. “As if there aren’t already enough add-on fees,” she complained. “With so many more RVers in the past few years, the demand for camping sites has exploded. Many people are just happy to find a vacant spot—so they’ll pay the extra fee. I feel sorry for folks who can’t afford it or reject the idea on principle.”

What about boarding the dog at home? I was surprised to find that dog boarding costs in our area of the Midwest average $30-$50 per day or $150 for a week. I imagine that campgrounds consider their dog fee quite reasonable in comparison to boarding. However, not every dog owner feels comfortable boarding their pet.


Mary also told me about RVers who, having paid the extra $20 fee, refuse to pick up after their dog. “They mistakenly think the $20 dog fee pays for camp personnel to clean up after their dog. We’ve never had so much dog doo all over the park!” Mary huffed. “It’s disgusting!”

Problematic rules

Service dogs

The campground does not charge the $20 dog fee for service dogs. Still, Mary faces a conundrum: There are service dogs trained to help folks with visible physical disabilities. There are also service dogs trained to assist people with diabetes or seizure disorders. These and other conditions are not always visually evident. So how is a campground manager to distinguish between the RVer who has an actual health concern (needs a service dog), from someone just trying to avoid spending the extra fee for bringing their dog to the campground?

Making things even more confusing: There is no mandatory registration or certification process for service dogs. According to the ADA, any required registration or certification would be considered discrimination. Service dogs don’t have to have any kind of visible identification that labels them as “service animals” either.

Then there are folks who rely on their dogs for “emotional support.” Again, there is no certification or identification required for these animals, even though the ADA makes a clear distinction between “comfort animals” and “service animals.” I was beginning to understand Mary’s frustration.

Breed restrictions

“I had an RVer complain about his neighbor’s dog, a pit bull, this morning too!” Mary fussed. “If a camper says his dog isn’t a pit bull, what am I supposed to do? Demand DNA?” I could tell Mary was really upset.

I’ve seen dog breed restrictions at several RV parks. I understand that park owners want folks to be safe, but how is a campground host supposed to distinguish between breeds? Is a pit bull mixed breed acceptable? And what happens if an RVer “fibs” about his dog’s true heritage while making the reservation? Mary’s day may get much worse if she’s the one who has to tell the pit bull’s owner to leave the park!

How about you? How do you feel about campgrounds charging an extra fee for dogs? Have you ever paid to bring your dog camping? Let us know how you feel in the comments.


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


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Carol Patrick
8 days ago

They already charge extra for dogs in a hotel. Why in the heck would rvers be charged? Totally unfair rip off

Jeff Johnson
12 days ago

I only use privately owned

15 days ago

I left a RV Park that we had a year round space at after getting an American Bully ( American Stafford Shire Terrier ). The parks insurance would not cover if dogs classified as vicious were present. Many insurance Company’s have a vicious dog clause. Some charge a higher premium.
A lot of cities have ordinances against Pit Bulls, Pit mixes or any dog that resembles a Pit. Most people mistake other breeds as Pits and would not say anything about a pure breed Pit. More and more cities are changing their ordinances from Pit Bulls to vicious dogs.
My American Bully is my big Baby. Yes she can show aggressiveness but most often she just wants to play.

15 days ago

The whole reason I have a camper is so I CAN travel with my dogs. I’m ok with a few extra dollars for pet fees as long as the information is stated when I book my site. However if I show up and then you try to charge me. I would be upset. Also, I have 3 dogs, if the fees are too much. I will have to go somewhere else.

15 days ago

HATE IT. And if I have to pay $20 you will be picking up after my dogs! What else would I be getting for that $. Dog walks if I leave them in the park for the day while I go exploring?
I just spent the night in a park were I took my pups to the “dog area” for a very little while before leaving. After paying almost $70 for the night and a $5 + tax fee for my dogs I picked up 8 piles of poop in the area. Had I known about the extra $5 I wouldn’t have stayed! I already had sticker shock over the nightly price…more than I paid for a hotel room in the same area last year with no dog fee charged.

Paula Stone
15 days ago

I do not like the new charging of fee’s for your dog – when I leave there is no way for you to tell my dogs have been there. What does the fee go towards? I don;t like it that they put you in a lower quality area – out of the way – no views – plus a fee for your dogs. What is this? They do it for motel/hotel rooms too. All for the same price as better RV spots, or rooms plus a fee. What is with this? I don’t like it.

16 days ago

There is a simple solution. If dogs are allowed and are a little burden on the campground, charge everyone a little more ($10? $15?) and use the difference to cover the costs. I like dogs and love camping near them; I’ll happily pay a little more to make sure their needs are also met.

17 days ago

if they want a $20 fee for a dog. It better have multiple pristine dog parks and a dog wash. Otherwise I’ll skip that campground.

Jane Baker
17 days ago

I have been going through the additional charge this spring for the first time time at every campground I have stayed at. It would appear the RV parks have discovered yet a new way to rake in the money.

Last edited 17 days ago by Jane Baker
18 days ago

The owners of the park are the ones that make the rules. If you don’t like them go somewhere else. These people who lie about what kind of dog it is or what the animal is trained to do are losers and the lowest scum on this earth. I have zero tolerance for those who think their better than everyone else …. The campgrounds should too….

15 days ago
Reply to  Roger

Campgrounds should be ashamed of themselves for charging these exorbitant fees…they are the scum of the earth.

11 days ago
Reply to  vanessa

If there insurance rates go up for allowing dogs, I think the extra fee is reasonable. Liability insurance can be very expensive, and the campground owner is on the hook if a dog bites some one.
I don’t blame them for protecting their business.

David Ulm
9 days ago
Reply to  Roger

Right on!!! They are losers for sure!

19 days ago

Pet refundable deposit.
If you come my camp site and there is holes dug up and poop not picked and the wooden benches looked like they have been chewed up then my deposit is used to pay for the damages my dog. If you can’t even tell I had my ESA there then my deposit is refunded.

19 days ago

You can charge for dogs when you start charging for kids. Doing it because you “can”, when it adds no benefit or doesn’t compensate for extra work, is just wrong. I am sure a few of those people who failed to pick up poo, thought they were paying for that service, but I have to admit, most were probably being passive aggressive about the fee.

Neal Davis
20 days ago

Never been charged extra by a campground, but have been charged by a hotel for having our dog. I can see the latter — dog fur makes for additional cleaning. I do not see the justification for campgrounds making such a charge.

15 days ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Every hotel I have stayed at for the past 6 years that took dogs did not have any carpet and did not charge extra for the dogs.

20 days ago

As I write, there are no less than 4 separate dogs in three different sites around me,that have been barking non stop for 10 hours, the owners are oblivious and obviously entitled since they are in the same group. As a canine behavior specialist and trainer with over 30yrs experience, a full timer since 2018, the lack of “responsible” pet ownership amazes me!

18 days ago
Reply to  DogtorPhil

Camp Host or Campground owner(s) are also culpable.

15 days ago
Reply to  DogtorPhil

I have seen so many unsocialized dogs among RVers. They are afraid for their dogs but that makes them even more vulnerable to larger dogs. Dogs that have no contact with other dogs and snap and bite whenever they are around other animals.

20 days ago

I am all for it, those “offended” by the fee are free to look elsewhere. I am weary of stepping out onto my site and finding dog feces – some small (“who’s going to see it anyway, it will go into the grass”), some so large it must be related to an elephant. As an alternative, how about if a dog barks incessantly the owner agrees to a $150 fee along with requirement to leave? Wish ALL parks, private, state, federal would enforce their rules regarding barking dogs. Love dogs, hate most dog owners!

20 days ago

The fee seems reasonable. Hilton Hotel charges $70, Drury Inns $45 a night. Most hotels are $25.

Calvin Wing
20 days ago
Reply to  BarbF

Hotels have carpet, upholstered furniture and beds that can be soiled by animals so we completely understand why. Campgrounds don’t have these amenities so there’s no excuse for charging extra. If, however, the campground has to hire extra staff to clean up after dogs then I understand.
We’re finding that many campgrounds have dog park areas and in those cases the extra cost of maintenance is included in the price.

15 days ago
Reply to  Calvin Wing

The problem is they don’t maintain them. They don’t ensure they are picked up after nor do they spray the ground with disinfectant that should be done as routine maintenance when you have 100s of different dogs going in the same small area and most aren’t even big enough for a papillon to stretch their legs in.

20 days ago

The problem I’ve experienced too many times is, even the “responsible” dog owners think every square inch of grass in the campground is their dogs personal outhouse, even if it’s on someone else’s site. Too often, I’ve seen them letting their dog poop and pee less than 10 feet from us, on our site, as we’re sitting at our picnic table eating! I always get the, “But I’m picking it up!” I ask “How about the pee?” I don’t want to walk through it or smell it either!” It seems to be all about their pet and no common courtesy or consideration of personal boundries. If there’s no designated area, use your own site!

Laura G
20 days ago
Reply to  Flyguy

You call them “responsible” but if they aren’t picking up after their pet then they are “irresponsible” pet owners. Also respectful RVers know to stay in their own camp site with both their kids and their pets. Don’t let rude RVers turn you off to all pet owners. Many of us are responsible & respectful with our pets.

20 days ago
Reply to  Laura G

I used “responsible” totally tongue-in-cheek. True responsible and respectible pet owners now seem to be the exception and no longer the norm – and not only in campgrounds.

20 days ago
Reply to  Flyguy


21 days ago

Why are they charging $20 for each dog?? If the owner is the one feeding, watering and picking up after the dog why the extra charge.
A lot of RVers are on a strict budget so these people will simply go on to another campground.
Better yet, if you have an extra charge, where is the doggie park and the little poop bag and trash can??

21 days ago

Add on fees in general at RV parks are getting out of control. In addition more and more parks are requiring payment in full or a large deposit up front when making a reservation. In addition their cancellation or change dates fees are becoming expensive and more restrictive. All this in addition to the high price increases that are being charge for a site. Been RVing for 30+ yrs. We usually try to take a trip for 1 week per month all within a 5hr drive from home. Average trip at this time for gas and site fees for a week has been averaging $1100. Think about what we pay for an 18×60 parking pad. One may ask are they crazy with their fees? Or, are we the crazies for paying these outrageous charges plus add ons?

21 days ago

As a 25+ years camping family, we have always had a dog. We are responsible pet owners that are serious about picking up our pet’s poops – nobody wants their kids to be stepping in it (or a new arrival to walk through it when setting up – both of which have happened to us many, many times). I try to avoid campgrounds that punish dog owners by charging extra (just like the ones that charge extra for kids!) but if I need to be in the area for some reason will pay it if I can’t avoid that campground. If a campground charges these fees and know dog(s) are in a site previously and DO NOT police the site to make sure it’s clean for the next arrivals, their fees are just a money grab and if they do that to me once, shame on them, do it to me twice I’m done with you.

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