Dealing with barking dogs at a campground is often a delicate situation. People love their animals, as do we, and most will brook no trespass upon their dog’s etiquette or lack thereof.
Completely understandable. If the situation were reversed, it’s difficult to say with any degree of bias how we would react.
So, here we are, offering the olive branch that just might solve both sides of the same coin. After all, dogs bark. It’s one of their most effective means of communication, though they have less savory methods as well, like marking their territory on your brand new Michelin XPA Rib tires.
Of course, campgrounds have rules concerning dogs, including rules surrounding freedom of movement. How to handle such a delicate event? An incessantly barking dog kind of kills the whole outdoor/adventure vibe, you know? Well, we have a few ideas.
Do All Campgrounds Allow Dogs?
For the most part, campgrounds allow dogs. Not doing so would be a business killer. There are a few out there that won’t allow them but it’ll take time to dig them up if you’re interested in a completely dog-free camping experience.
If you’re traveling with your four-legged friend, it’s best to contact potential campground spots well in advance and see what their rules are. The reason is that some campgrounds don’t outright state their non-dog policy. You don’t want to find that out after a long day on the road.
Another thing worth considering is that not all campgrounds treat all dogs equally. In fact, some breeds are off-limits entirely. Pit Bulls, Dobermans, Rottweilers, Mastiffs, and comparable breeds are often on the “no-can-do” list. We don’t make the news; we just report it.
Fortunately, thousands of campgrounds throughout the United States are open, with a welcome sign out for all canines, regardless of breed.
Some of them have their own rules but the more welcoming campgrounds list rules on behavior, both for the animal and the owner in charge of it. These rules often include limitations on the number of dogs allowed.
It’s never a good idea to bring your dogs along and simply stop at the first campground you come across.
What Rules Do Campgrounds Have for Barking Dogs?
Campgrounds that allow for dogs almost always have rules or generalizations concerning barking dogs. Most campgrounds will give you a warning first. This usually means that someone has reported your barking dog to the front office.
If the dog continues to bark, it’s likely that someone from the office will come to you and ask you to remove the dog from the property. If you were to refuse, well, you can imagine where things will proceed from there.
At the end of the day, RV park owners can have campers removed from the premises. Incessantly barking dogs at a campground is a recipe for unwanted attention and it’s only a matter of time.
RV Parks are often funny in how they set out their rules on dog behavior and dogs in general. The following are some of the rules you’re likely to run into out there:
- Weight limitations
- Breed limitations (often excluding German shepherds, Dobermans, mastiffs, huskies, rottweillers, and pit bulls)
- No barking during quiet times
- Specified leash limits
- Restrictions from certain buildings
- Restrictions from certain trails
- Mandated cleaning up after dogs
- Exclusion from recreational areas
- No portable dog fencing (some RV parks allow them but only if the owner is present)
- No leaving dogs in the RV for extended periods while absent (mostly thanks to some state laws)
- No dogs that act aggressively
The burden is on you to check ahead and make sure you know the rules before you bring your canine along for the ride. If you love to walk your dogs and/or take them on bike rides and runs, knowing the rules before you rent a space is important.
If you really want to do your homework on campgrounds across the state, in terms of campgrounds that adhere to state law, check out DogBites.org. DogBites.org features a compilation of breed-specific ordinances, military policies, state ordinances, Indian reservation laws, and housing authority policies across the entire country.
The National Canine Research Council is another excellent resource for breed-specific legislation throughout the United States. These two sites will help you determine what you might be in for as you travel through certain states. Remember, it’s not always that campground that’s to blame for certain breed restrictions. They’re simply abiding by state law.
Why Does My Dog Bark While Camping?
We could probably just break this section off and make a whole, barking dogs at a campground article all by itself. There are probably a hundred different potential reasons for this.
Separation Anxiety and Frustration
It may be something as simple as separation anxiety or anxiety in general. There’s no continuity in the RV lifestyle if you’re on the road most of the year or even if you’re just vacationing. Some dogs have trouble dealing with a lack of continuity and familiarity.
If you go outside and leave them inside, they may bark out of frustration and anxiety from being separated. However, this is something you will likely run into at home, long before you hit the road in the RV. The only exception would be RV lifers who purchase their dogs while living in their RVs.
It’s also possible that your dog is just very excitable from all of the hoopla of going camping. This kind of plays off the previous possibility. The only difference is your dog isn’t anxious, just really excited and can’t restrain itself.
If you’re in a campground that doesn’t allow portable fencing or unattended leash mechanisms on RVs, that means you’ll have to walk your dog. Walking your dog also means they have very little freedom and less time outside.
Boredom and dogs don’t often mix, resulting in a dog barking because it’s ready and willing to do anything other than this routine.
Female in Heat
Last but not least, if you have a male dog and one of your camping neighbors has a female in heat, well, you better hope you’re not downwind.
Even if you’re upwind, it probably won’t matter. If you thought barking dogs at a campground was bad, imagine having a male who detects a female in heat, trapped in a confined space for most of the day.
The average male dog will smell a female in heat up to three miles away. That’s quite a lot of real estate, ruling out a peaceful stay unless your male is very disciplined.
How Do I Stop My Barking Dog At A Campground?
There are two approaches to get your dog to stop barking when camping. The first approach is proactive and preventative at the same time.
The second is a series of reactionary methods to get your pup through this brief period without bringing the campground down around your ears.
The Proactive, Preventative Approach
This is the hardest yet simplest approach. Training. Opt for professional training or DIY training, so long as it’s effective. A trained and disciplined dog is far easier to control than one that lacks any at all.
If you plan on doing it yourself, there are some ways to do this and some habits to avoid altogether.
- Train your dog with positive reinforcement methods
- Use their favorite treats portable style, small enough to carry around everywhere
- Remain consistent—10 minutes per session, two or three times every day
- Restrain yourself from going longer than ten minutes (dogs get bored and will quit looking forward to training time)
- Start simple and work your way towards more complicated tricks and behaviors
- Always be ready with praise and affection
It’s a true game of patience and you need to set aside the time for training each and every day. Consistency is key. If you lack consistency, your dog’s behavior will be erratic and it may not be as enthusiastic about each session.
Be sure to go with their absolute favorite treats and, if need be, break the treats apart into tiny pieces, even if you have a large dog. You know how dogs are, the smell of it is the most exciting thing. They practically inhale treats anyway.
The Reactionary Approach
You should know how to deal with your own dog at this point and you can probably identify the cause behind the barking. Spend time with your pup and continually reassure it.
Individual training and playtime work wonders for a dog. It relieves stress and gives them something to do.
Avoid leaving your dog alone for prolonged periods of time. This is an especially important point if your dog is unused to being left alone or unused to traveling. If you end up next to a neighbor who has a dog and yours isn’t feeling it, request a different site. It may be a pain but it’s worth it in the long run.
You can also strategically park your vehicle and RV to block your dog’s ability to see other people or dogs as they walk by, which is enormously helpful if your dog likes to bark at other dogs or people.
Can Dogs Be Trained Not to Bark?
Dogs are exceedingly smart and can be trained specifically not to bark. However, you run the risk of losing their preternatural sense of danger and warning mechanism.
Pet Smart offers training classes that include the owner, assuming you have time to go down to Pet Smart often. However, there are many more businesses out there besides Pet Smart.
In fact, check your Facebook and download the Next Door App. These will allow you to find local, reputable dog trainers. Just be sure to read the reviews. This is social media, after all. If local dog trainers are terrible at their job, the online community will eat them alive.
While some local dog trainers will conduct the training at their homes, there are many small businesses that will do so at their place of business. It’s up to you to find the best ones in your area.
The APDT (Association of Professional Dog Trainers) has a simple and intuitive site that provides you with local pet training facilities in your area, regardless of where that is. Either way, some training on the front end will prevent a lot of headaches on the back.
You’ll often find that local businesses and local individual dog trainers are better than major retail giants like Pet Smart. As small businesses and individuals, your dog will get far more one-on-one attention.
There are also likely to be fewer distractions, aka other dogs in the same training facility. Simplicity is often the best option, especially if your dog is a bit hyperactive and overly curious.
How to Deal with Someone’s Barking Dogs at a Campground
Dealing with someone’s barking dogs at a campground is not a particularly enviable situation to be in.
From your point of view, it’s aggravating, sure, but you probably feel like any approach is likely to be offensive. It’s also likely that the barking dog belongs to a directly adjacent neighbor.
That being said, you’ll also know that no matter how swimmingly things go, every instance of association afterward will feel awkward. There’s just no simple way around it. On the other hand, the incessant barking is liable to drive you up the nearest tree.
Honestly, the most important thing to do is retain control of your immediate, emotional response, which may lead you to holler at the dog. Be polite. As the saying goes, “You catch more flies with honey.” That saying exists because it’s absolutely true.
Approach the owner and determine if they’re reasonable. If you pay attention, you’ll figure out the answer to that pretty quickly, no matter what you lead off the conversation with. Determine what’s causing the ruckus with the dog and maybe even offer to help.
A dog owner is much more receptive when you lavish their dogs with praise and enthusiasm to pet them. Don’t go running to the neighbor’s RV the very first time the dog barks. Dogs bark for a lot of reasons and it could be something fleeting and a singular event.
If their dog is barking at your dog, suggest a meet and greet and allow the two dogs to get to know each other, if that’s feasible. If you can discover the source of the barking, perhaps you can end it yourself, without bothering anyone.
Think of “escalation” as a last resort. The odds are good that if the dog is barking like crazy, for hours on end, you won’t have to do anything. The campground will take care of itself, whether it’s the owners or someone else.
If you absolutely must talk to the owners of the campground, maintain civility at all costs and let them know that you’ve already spoken to the owner and you don’t want the owners to be removed or even their dog removed. You just want peace and quiet.
No matter how you look at it, it’s a touchy situation. Do your best to keep the peace. Avoid telling the dog’s owner how you deal with your dogs or offer any tips unless directly asked. That will lead you down the wrong path in a hurry.
Final Thoughts About Barking Dogs at a Campground
If you do enough camping, barking dogs at a campground is an inevitability. Eventually, you will run into the situation. The good news is, it’s pretty rare. Most campers look out for one another and situations like that are quickly remedied.
If it’s your own dog, well, you have plenty of options, and it’s in your best interests to put a stop to it as soon as possible.
Dogs are fantastic companions and they are an integral and well-loved part of our family. However, there are still rules to abide by. Observe them, and always check ahead before you camp.
About the Author:
Thomas Godwin is a full-time freelance writer with a BFA in Creative Writing, a U.S. Marine, and an avid outdoorsman.
When he’s not writing, he’s raising chickens and Appleyard ducks. Thomas also constructs teardrop campers (attempting to anyway) and kayaks the Blackwater River with his wife, two daughters, and his Dobermans.