Petiquette On The Road

Petiquette is the art of being considerate of others while traveling with your dogs, or even cats. I’ve encountered a lot of non-petiquette behavior in the past 15 months but as Michelle Obama says, “When they go low, we go high.” You too, can set the bar high as you travel the country with your pets.

In some situations, parks have gotten so fed up with the “dog poop” issue, they have imposed higher rates or just charge more for dog owners. I have no problem with an RV park raising their rates for everyone so that they can maintain a high quality of cleanliness but I do have an issue with dog owners being singled out. I cancelled a two-week long reservation one time because when I went to check in, already paid for mind you, they wanted an extra $140 for the dogs.  They didn’t charge this to everyone, just dog owners.  And they didn’t warn campers ahead of time of this policy when making reservations.  I felt that was discrimination.  If you have a problem with poop on your property, raise the rate for everyone.  They would not even have known I had dogs, because no one asked, until they saw my license plate, which says “DOG MOTL.”

As you either travel full time or just enjoy getting out there for short vacations that include the family pet, you will see people not following the rules and not being polite.  You just have to ignore it for the most part.  I’ve learned not to say anything unless it’s deliberately right in my face, like a loose dog running toward my dogs or someone letting their dog poop in front of me and walking away. Maybe they think that since they are in or near woods that it’s ok to leave the poo? Or maybe they just don’t care. Sorry, I wasn’t raised that way. I pick up poop and carry those full little baggies with me for as long as I have to, even on nature walks in the middle of the woods.

I was walking my dogs a few years ago at a Thousand Trails Park in the Sierras.  My little shih tzu was older and disabled by that time so she was in a stroller (thank goodness).  A large pit bull came charging out of a campground unleashed and the owners, a young woman and two small kids, could not control him.  I was able to get away but my big dog would have fought to the death to protect the little dogs.  NEVER ASSUME YOUR DOG IS GOING TO BEHAVE.  Always have the leash on and attached to something.  This was not the first or only incident either.  I come across unleashed dogs at almost every park I stop at.  Like I said, people don’t care.  But you can!

You can be the best, most polite, most considerate pet parent at the park.  Set a good example.  You might be inclined to complain to the owners or the rangers but a lot of the people you are complaining about might be full time residents at that park, maybe even relatives of the owners. I find it’s better to let things slide unless someone is in serious danger.  You will be happier and you won’t have to worry about revenge or anything.  I am a stickler for rules so this is a hard lesson I have had to learn over the last year but I feel more relaxed for it.

I carry poop bags in my pocket religiously, even if I’m inside a dog park.  The reason is that if you see your dog pooping, by the time you walk over to the dispenser, grab a bag, and walk back, 50% of the time, you won’t be able to find that poop again.  If you know your dogs are going to go and you’ve just walked into the dog park, grab a few of their bags and keep them in your pocket.  If you don’t use them, you can always return the unused ones to the dispenser.  I buy the 10-pack bags at the chain pet store for about $12.00.  I prefer these over the discount ones because they are sturdier and scented.

Barking — just don’t!  You may think it’s cute but it can end up being very annoying for those around you.  If you know your dog barks every time someone walks by, do your research and book a site that doesn’t have as much traffic.  I’ve been blessed that my dogs are very quiet and oftentimes completely ignore a dog they pass on their daily walks.  But still, when I inadvertently get assigned a site that is very close to the bathhouse or dumpster, where I know there’s a lot of traffic, I always ask if there’s another spot available.

Almost all KOA RV Parks have a “bark park.”  Only about 30% of private parks have a dog park.  And state and national parks never have one.  If your dogs like to run around off leash, I would recommend NEVER doing it within any type of campground.  However, there have been times when I was at private campgrounds that had empty fields just outside the fence with no traffic.  My dogs are both voice-command trained so I felt safe letting them off leash in the empty fields.  If you travel with a vehicle, you can drive to a dog park during your stay (I do this often).  There are also dog-approved off-leash beaches that you can check out. Three of the best off-leash dog beaches I’ve been to are in California — Carmel, Avila Beach, and Dillon Beach.

These apps and websites will help you find dog-friendly and dog-approved activities for you and your pooches

Dog park in Sacramento, CA, Cal Expo RV park
Dog park in Albuquerque, NM, Route 66 RV Resort
Large lakeside dog park in Myrtle Beach, SC
Empty field just outside Castle Air Museum RV park, Atwater, CA
City dog park, Moore, OK
City dog park, Boulder City, NV
Kamp K9, Joplin KOA, Missouri
Sometimes you don’t need a dog park. Galveston Island pocket beach, Texas.

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