Tuesday, October 3, 2023


RV dog park etiquette: The woofin’ do’s and the woofin’ don’ts

Lots of folks travel with their dogs. Many RV campgrounds have taken note and are busily making pet accommodations, like dog parks. It’s proving to be a great investment because dog owners love letting their dogs safely run off-leash. Happy dogs mean happy campers.

Dog park etiquette

If you are lucky enough to camp in a park offering this amenity, there are rules to follow. These rules might not always be posted, but for your pet’s safety (as well as your own) it’s important to know and follow some basic dog park etiquette guidelines. Here are some things to consider:

  • Make sure your dog is up to date with all her immunizations. (Always take proof of vaccinations with you when you travel with your pets.)
  • Tell your vet about the area of the country where you plan to visit. He may advise additional shots (like animal influenza vaccines) or advise you about potential health risks in the area. For example, some areas of the country are prone to tick or lice infestations. It’s good to know about these potential risks so that you can take appropriate precautions.
  • Find out the hours when the dog park is available. Many campgrounds post these days/times so that they can perform maintenance chores (e.g., mowing, cleaning) when the dog park is closed.
  • If the park has areas separated according to the size of dog, follow the guidelines. Small dogs should never be released inside the “Large Dog Area” and vice versa.
  • When entering the dog park, keep your dog close to your side on his leash. Make sure the gate is securely closed after you and your pet pass through. Only then unleash your dog.
  • Watch your pet closely, especially if other dogs are in the dog park. Aggressive dogs should be quickly leashed and removed from the dog park.
  • The dog park is not a boarding service. Never leave your pup unattended inside the dog park.
  • Always clean up after your pooch! Yes, it’s a dog park, but you are still responsible for cleaning up your dog’s messes. This isn’t just proper etiquette; it will help prevent the spread of parasites.

Never bring these into the dog park:

  • Puppies. Very young pups should not enter the dog park until they have received all their vaccinations – as a rule of thumb, 12 to 16 weeks.
  • Antisocial dogs. If your dog just does not play well with other dogs, the dog park is not for your pet. Well, unless there are no other dogs present.
  • Unaltered dogs. Female dogs in heat can cause aggression among male dogs in the dog park. In addition, you probably don’t want the potential puppies that may result from accidental mating.
  • Young children and babies. Large, playful dogs can unintentionally bump and/or harm a small child. Other dogs may see a child as a threat and become aggressive.
  • Your pet’s playthings. If your furry friend is possessive about her things, it’s best to leave them back in the RV.
  • An overexcited dog. Take your pooch for a nice, long walk before going to the dog park. This is especially important if your dog is naturally excitable. An over-exuberant pup can be seen as a threat by a more docile dog. Better to wear the excitable dog down a bit before hitting the dog park.
  • Your cell phone, or anything else that will distract you from closely monitoring your dog. If you must bring your phone, keep it inside your pocket. Keep your full attention on your dog.

Go with your gut

You are the one who knows your dog best. If you sense that she’s uneasy in the dog park, cut your stay short. Gradually increase the time you spend in the dog park until she is more comfortable.

If you notice a dog becoming aggressive toward your pup, leash your dog immediately and leave. Come back when the aggressive dog is not present.

Thank the RV park owners/managers for making the dog park available. Tell them how much it means to you (and your dog)!


Dog is my co-pilot: Better places to stop for RVers with pets

16 RV parks your pooch will love as much as you


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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1 year ago

NEVER TAKE FOOD INTO A DOG PARK EVEN DOG TREATS. Talk about possessive about toys! Try to get between some dogs and food. If you want to give your dog a treat for playing in the park do it after you leave. Do NOT try to train your dog with treats in the park. Do it with verbal praise if you must train in the park and there are some things that you need to train around other dogs…like sharing! If you bring treats into the park don’t complain when the dogs follow you and/or attack you.

1 year ago

In the “Unaltered dogs” section you brought up the problems that unaltered females can cause but, with all due respect, you forgot to mention the male end of the spectrum.

Unaltered males entering the dog park automatically have dominance over the other dogs because testosterone is higher. Marking the perimeter, sometimes marking other dogs, is a part of this. Another sign is when there’s a dog train of noses following the back end of the unaltered male. Notice too, when the unaltered dog walks his tail is usually up; when he passes a group of alters dogs their tails raise too. The night tail signifies excitement or dominance. It’s not cute- it’s a warning sign. The altered dogs don’t appreciate this strong presence of testosterone (or the immediate display of dominance) and that can often lead to a dominance fight (different than an all out attack).

Either way an unaltered dog can be a target for a fight, even if it’s unintentional, because it’s the nature of the species.

Bob Amoroso
2 years ago

Most of the dog parks are not parks, they are a small fenced in area of mostly dirt. Very few have anything for dogs to sniff and be interested in. The fact is the park isn’t making any money off the dog areas so they don’t expend much in providing a pleasant dog or something where a dog can really run. I admit, some RV parks do provide space and a good dog area, but unfortunately there’s very few.

I have another pet peeve, every campsite, be it National Forest, State Park, County Park etc. require your dog must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet. This is a ridiculous. The rule should be; Your Dog must be tethered at all times and MUST NOT be allowed any further then your campsite boundaries. I been to many campgrounds over my 45 plus years of RVing and I string a rope up between two trees which can extend to around 75 feet. I then put a sliding tether on the rope which is about 15 feet so my dog has some room to roam. I never let my dog intrude on another camper or campsite.

2 years ago

We really do appreciate that we’re finding campgrounds that say they have a dog park since we have a dog that benefits greatly from being able to expend her high energy. Unfortunately, most of these claimed ‘dog parks’ are much too small to be of any benefit to a dog larger than a chihuahua. Can’t imagine what the park owners were thinking when they created such a small space. It’s particularly disappointing when there’s ample room that would have allowed it to be larger.

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