camping etiquetteResponsible campers and backpackers know to leave “no trace behind,” but a dog, who has been domesticated and removed from nature, may not understand these rules.  It’s the reason so few campgrounds allow this boisterous, free-roaming creature to meander through the trails and wildlife. 

To ensure pet-friendly campgrounds and trails remain open to dogs, here’s a few pointers to help us all be well-mannered nature dwellers.

 Pointer 1 – Lose your dignity. 

Of course no one likes to pick up after their pet’s droppings, but it’s a must.  A handy baggy dispenser like the one on our Stow’n Go Clip will help to conveniently carry the bags. If your find yourself far from a trash can, put a pack on your dog and let him/her do the carrying.

 Pointer 2 – Know who’s taking who for a walk. 

Be sure your dog is on voice command prior to taking your dog on an adventure.  This will prevent them from running off, jumping up on people or other dogs, and getting into trouble.  Your dog is more reluctant to listen in exciting situation, especially where other dogs, people and wildlife co-exist, so proper training is a must.  And don’t forget to always carry a leash—just in case.

 Pointer 3 – If you bring them along, don’t leave them behind. 

An unattended dog can be disruptive to wildlife and other campers, so it’s best not to leave your dog alone.  Aside from howling or barking, they could get themselves in a precarious situation if they get tied up, attacked, overheat, or manage to find a poisonous treat.

 Pointer 4 – Save it for the hydrant. 

Prevent your dog from relieving themselves near swimming areas, children, or food preparation areas.  Not only is it unsanitary, but it can attract other types of wildlife to the campsite.

7 thoughts

  1. Can anyone figure out why most national parks don’t allow dogs on the trail. It seems that over-educated naturalists think that dogs will destroy the wildlife in some way. As if a moose doesn’t do any damage! Either way, we went to Smoky Mtn National Park last year only to find that my dog was not aloud to hike with me except on a flat boring 1 mile dog walk trail that was very over populated. Apparently, other dog owners fealt my pain. We also visited Grand Teton National park. Yep. No dogs.

    I live in Ohio next to the 2nd largest tourist attraction in the state. It’s called Hocking Hills State Park. It’s our own little slice of Utah here in Ohio and a great secret. Lots of waterfalls, caves and excellent hiking… with my dog. Many dogs hit the trail down here and all is peaceful and our ecosystem isn’t in the gutter because of our 4-legged hiking buddies.

    What’s up?

    1. I am an over-educated naturalist with three off leash trail dogs. They have energy to burn and love to be free! I live in California and the blanket rule at State parks is no dogs on trails – sometimes not even if leashed. It kills me. I understand that certain areas need to have leash laws, and in some instances with nesting birds and other rare plants and animals, a no dogs rule is a necessity. But I think that good dog owners do get penalized by the bad dog owners out there that refuse to follow rules. A few rule breakers tend to ruin off leash areas for all. I think it reinforces the fact that we need to be vocal (call parks and rec and government officials and let them know how important sharing the trail with your dog actually is) and follow rules – lead by example. And comments to those you see that aren’t folling the rules. In as nice a manner as possible, let them know their beahviors may be placing into jeopardy freedoms for others. If nothing else, it will help keep the remaining pet friendly parks just that.

      1. Good stuff Alytes and you’ve inspired me. There’s an isolated local park with very little foot traffic here in southern ohio that has about 12 miles of great hiking trails. I haven’t visited there since I bought my Weim 3 years ago b’c their rules say “no dogs” except on a lame quarter-mile gravel road. I’m contacting them to urge them to allow dogs… and don’t worry, I’ll be polite about it. BTW, one of my friends is an “over-educated” naturalist here in southern ohio and he does let me bring my dog along (off leash) while we do trail work and repairs. 🙂 – Joey

  2. Hi. I have a blog at where I feature people’s posts about camping, and I would like to send my readers your way. Of course I would give you credit for quotes and would link back to your site.

    Thanks for considering this,

    Jean B. in SC

  3. I’m a hiker as is my dog, churchill. We also volunteer with the National Park Service. I urge all dog owners to find out and religiously follow all applicable dog rules when in public areas. Please remember that the path of bureaucratic least resistance to people who ignore dog rules is:


    Unfortunately that’s becoming more not less common.

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