by Barbara Foley

With good reason, campground owners are increasingly turning RVers with dogs away. Since many of us cannot think of traveling without our pets, this puts us at odds. I think it is only a matter of being aware of the unique situation we put ourselves in when we travel with pets and then doing the right things to minimize the impact of our pets upon campgrounds and our fellow travelers. Here are some ideas:

paw When you make your reservation, ask for a site as far removed from the general sites as possible, explaining that you travel with pets and that, although they are well behaved, you realize that not everyone is a pet lover. Assure them that your dog is up to date with his innoculations and rabies vaccinations and that you will bring his certificates with you.

If it is hot, try to get a site with shade for your pets.

Keep your pets quiet and on your assigned site. If you leave the site, take your pets with you (if it is permitted) on leash. Many normally quiet pets at home become quite vocal when left alone in a strange place. (To acclimate your pet to being left alone INSIDE your camper, start to train him long before you leave on your first trip. Leave him for only a minute or two, then return and praise him for being quiet. Gradually lengthen the time you leave him, praising for good behavior.)

Unless you will always be present, do not tie your dog outside. He could become tangled in the tie-out and get hurt, loose animals could attack him, strangers could feed him, he could tip over his water, and as the day progresses, his "shade" could move, leaving him to bake in the sun. I don't see anything wrong with tying a quiet dog outside IF YOU WILL ALWAYS BE WITH HIM. (Always tie dogs using a buckle collar, never a choke collar.)

Make sure your dog gets enough exercise. A normally active dog may become quite discontent with having to remain sedintary at your campsite. He will be more able to remain quiet and content if you walk him or play with him so that his normal activity level is maintained.

If your dog barks at the neighbor's dog, reposition him so that the two animals are out of one another's sight--out of sight, out of mind!

Recycle plastic bags by using them as pooper-scoopers (newspaper bags are great!). If you walk your dog, carry your pooper-scooper baggie with you so that people along your path can see you are prepared if your dog decides to make an "unscheduled deposit." (Put the baggie over your hand like a glove, pick up the droppings with your "gloved" hand, invert the baggie as you remove it from your hand, and deposit it in the nearest trash can. Easy!) You can also thus serve as an example to others. Train your kids to do this, too.

Respect dog walk areas and areas into which you are not to take your pet. (Once again, make sure your kids do the same.)

Teach your dog basic manners so that when that cute little girl down the way asks to pet your dog he will sit quietly to be petted and not jump on her.

After feeding your dog, remove any food which he does not finish. Leftover food will attract insects during the day and wildlife at night.

Always keep your dog's water dish full of fresh, clean water.

Make sure your dog is out of the wind on cold days and in plenty of shade on hot days. Do not leave a pet in a camper with the air conditioning on unless you will be present. Should you leave and the air conditioner or campground power fail, your dog will probably die from the heat in a very short period of time. Make other arrangements if you must leave your pet in your camper. (Some campgrounds even offer dog walkers for a small fee!)

Pick up any droppings on your site immediately, put them in a plastic bag so they do not attract insects or smell, and dispose of them properly.

. Remember that not everyone's pet is as friendly as is yours and that not everyone is diligent at keeping innoculations up to date. If possible, do not let your dog interact with strange dogs.

. Finally, after you pack up and are about to pull out to go home, walk around your campsite looking for pet droppings that you might have missed picking up. Then walk around one more time, so that you leave the campsite even cleaner than you found it.

If we all try to follow as many of these hints as possible, perhaps pets will once again be welcome in campgrounds.

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All articles are Copyright by Barbara Foley.
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