Thursday, August 4, 2016

Camping With Pets

When you take your dog camping, you are an ambassador for every other pet owner in America.  So, please, please, please, read and follow the pet rules at the campground or RV Park!  And please encourage other pet owners to do the same!  

Due to increased liability and the number of pets camping and RVing, campground and RV park owners are forced to continue to modify and expand pet restrictions.  Many campgrounds are limiting breeds of dogs (due to their aggressive nature and breeding).  Some limit pets in number or by size, and some are now charging extra fees for pets because of the increased risk, materials, and manpower to clean up behind pets.
Worse yet are people who try to pass their pets off as service animals in stores, restaurants, or pet-free cabins and other rentals.  First, and foremost, that is illegal.  Secondly, they are placing others with severe allergies at risk.  And third they are driving up the costs of camping for others 

Here are some standard Pet Policies that should always be followed:
If your pet is over protective, or has aggressive tendencies towards other pets or people, leave them home.  A campground or RV park is no place for an aggressive pet.  Do yourself and your liability carrier a favor, and leave them with a friend or relative or kennel them.  It’s not fair to your unsocialized pet to place them in that situation, nor is it fair to those camping around you and their pets. 
Carry your pet's shot records: This is important, not only for your pet, but for others as well. Some campgrounds require it. Even if they don't require it, it's still a good practice.   
Bring along pet supplies, meds, & first aid supplies! You never know when your pet may get injured or need treated for ticks or fleas. To keep your family & pets safe, you should check them for ticks & fleas each and every time they are outdoors. And, you should treat them regularly to protect them and your family from Lyme Disease.  Lyme Disease can be contracted by your pet in your own back yard.  You should practice prevention every time your pet goes out doors!   
Pets should be leashed 100% of the time.  We’ve had pet owners ask us why they can’t use invisible fences when camping.  The answer is simply this, it doesn’t keep other pets out and it doesn’t necessarily keep your pet in.  Other pets can cross that fence with no deterrence, and once your pet crosses that fence, you have lost control of your pet.  Pets are territorial by nature.  They will defend their territory and owners whether they need defended or not.  Without a physical leash or tether, if your pet is involved in a dog fight, you then have no means by which to remove your pet from that fight, protect them from harm, or from harming another family’s pet without placing yourself at risk. 
Barking needs minimized!  Other campers don’t go camping to hear dogs bark.  They go to hear crickets chirping, the birds’ singing, and the babbling brook at the campground.  This is probably a campground owners #1 complaint received.    
As a side note, there are barking collars and other techniques for training pets not to bark.  It’s not being mean to them, it teaches them good doggie manners.  And as a pet owner, you have a responsibility to your pet, other campers, and the campground owners, to teach them good doggie manners while camping! 
Campers should never leave their pet tethered outside at your campsite and unattended! Whether you'll be gone 5 minutes or 5 hours, this is a no-no!  Your neighbors don't want to listen to the barking while your family enjoys the pool or worse yet the local amusement park or county fair for 10 hours!  It isn’t fair to your camping neighbors and it certainly isn’t fair to your pet.  Many campers crate their pet inside the unit, and no one suffers.  So, be kind to your pet and your neighbors, and if you’re going to be absent for long periods of time, kennel your pet for the day. 
Doggie doo-doo needs picked up 100% of the time!  Always pick up your dog's waste.  Dog owners will tell you that they have been in hundreds of campgrounds and seen so many people claim, in public, that they always pick up their dog's waste; only to see them, in private, leave it on the ground and hope no-one noticed.  Look, it is not a pleasant job, but neither is changing your child's diapers and you still do that faithfully. 
Now, let’s move on to what to use to pick up after our four-legged, furry family members.  At Meadville KOA, we hand out a snack for pets with a reminder of our pet rules and they can use the bag we supply the snack in as a doo-do pick up bag.  We use cheap (no name) sandwich baggies.  They hold the snack and provide a good pick-up baggie at a reasonable price.  So, they are much cheaper than specialty doggie bags and they do the trick! 
Here are some great suggestions from our campers who are pet owners:
·         Cheap bags at the Dollar Store. The white ones are too thin and they come 100 to a box. The blue ones come 50 to a box. They are the ones to use. They are cheap enough that you can have a box in the RV, jeep, back pack and the fanny pack. And if I see someone who is walking a dog and in need of a bag I am happy to hand one over!
·         Doggie bags at Meadville KOA!  They sell doggie pick-up bags at the camp store, and the carry case that attaches to the leash!  You will never be without a baggie again if you simply buy the carrier & a package of refill bags!  They are a great value!
·         I've found an even better bag--and it's free! Our home delivered newspapers come in a tough double layer plastic bag. It's just the right size to put over your hand, pick up the waste, turn the bag inside out and tie it in a knot. I save all the newspaper bags and find all kinds of uses for them.
The best way to keep campgrounds pet-friendly is to follow the pet policies at the campground you’re camping at, and by encouraging others to do the same!  We wish you happy camping with your four legged furry friend, and don’t forget to take your doggie bags with you!
By Robyn Chilson
Tim & Robyn Chilson, own and operate Meadville KOA Campground in Meadville, PA.  You can contact Robyn at 814-789-3251.