We are currently in our second loop around the country and one thing seems apparent- more and more RV’ers have pets, especially dogs, as traveling companions. We have always had a dog with us everywhere we go, and although some campgrounds try to cater to these canine family members, it seems that the park operators just don’t understand how they can best accommodate pet owners in their facilities. In that light, I’ve put together nine suggestions for a great pet experience in a campground. Actually, some of these have been offered by different resorts we have visited, just not all of them in any one park.
9. A variety of dog food, treats, toys and accessories (i.e. leashes) available in the camp store
Walmarts or large grocery stores are not always nearby nor convenient when a pet owner finds their dogfood didn’t make the trip, their leash breaks or they just want to pamper their dog. Having some of these supplies would be ever so helpful!
8. Multiple dog walk areas with grass, poop bags and trash cans
So often we have to encroach upon other campers’ sites or a vehicle path to clean up our dog’s droppings. That is about the time you realize you forgot to re-stock your leash with poop bags… Having just a short walk to a dog walk would be exceedingly convenient.
7. List and contact info for nearby dog groomers, vet offices and pet hospitals
Seems silly to have to Google this for ourselves when the park operators usually have a handle on who is around them, and difficult when Internet is spotty. They can place a disclaimer on the info sheet if they are worried about referring to a business that doesn’t give a great customer experience and definitely should be asking for feedback.
6. List and directions to local community dog parks
We have been to some awesome community dog parks with room to run and play to their hearts’ content. Yuma comes to mind immediately. However, like local groomers and vets, it would be much more convenient to campers if that information was available at check-in.
5. Pet daycare, walking and pop-in visits available at a reasonable cost
It’s not always feasible to leave your dog in your RV while you explore the region or visit a national park (where dogs are not allowed even on-leash), and a rig can be a dangerous place in extreme summer heat should the resort’s power fail, turning off the A/C. Having a daycare, dog walking or RV pop-in visits available for a fee would be a great relief to those of us who need to leave our dogs behind to sightsee or otherwise partake of a region’s entertainment.
4. Centrally-located and well-maintained off-leash park with grass and shade
Let’s also supply these fenced parks with shaded benches for their owners. A number of times a resort we were staying in had a fenced dog park but it was either a half-mile walk away from our campsite or it was so small that there was no real reason to use it. Once fenced dog “walk” was only 8’ by 4’ in size. Having a fenced dog area is only useful if it’s maintained, not left to be weed- and mud-infested quagmires. No one wants their dog to play in a dirt lot.
3. Separate off-leash sections for small and large dogs
Another issue for small dog owners is when large, sometimes aggressive breeds are made to mingle with smaller dogs. The simple solution is to fence off a section of the park for each.
2. Scheduled community play times for dogs at the camp's dog parks
Ever walk your dog hoping to find other potential playmates for them in the dog park, only to find that it’s empty? This happens all the time to us. One resort created play times and supplied days and times for these social hours for their campers with dogs. This worked very well, giving our pet a lot of social time.
1. Allow use of pet fences and/or pens at campsites
We have a doggie door in our RV screen door and our dogs can come and go into our own fenced-off area, that is, when we are allowed to put it up. Our dogs do not challenge barriers and have never hopped out of our pen and when we can’t use it, it makes camping life more difficult. Parks should allow campers the freedom to use pens and fences and then enforce leash rules as necessary.
Any of these suggestions would help make a resort more dog-owner friendly and make camping more bearable for our cuddly family members. Campgrounds that are dog-friendly are becoming more and more popular as word spreads by campers. This is even integral to some park reviews, including mine, as RV’ers converse within their own social communities. Smart resort operators will pick up on this trend and make plans to offer as many pet services as possible.
Jack Huber is a novelist with 7 mysteries published, along with several books of poetry and photography. Now retired, he and his wife, Nadyne, are free to travel the country in their 32' 5th wheel and 1-ton Ford pickup.