Traveling with pets can be tricky, particularly if you have dogs that others perceive to be “aggressive.” In this article, I’ll share some information we’ve learned over the years about traveling with restricted breed dogs.
If your dogs aren’t restricted breeds, scroll on down to the “At the Campground” Section. It applies to all dog owners.
We actually stumbled into full-time RV living three years ago because we were relocating to a new city with these beauties (the dogs, not the boys). This was for a fairly short-term work assignment of 18 months and we wanted to rent. We quickly learned that our pretty pooches, a Chow and Dutch Shepherd, were so-called “Aggressive” breeds.
My Dogs Aren’t Aggressive
While dogs like ours carry the stigma of being tough and aggressive, we like so many other pet owners, can attest to the fact that they are as sweet and loving as any other dog. Actually, I think my dogs are more loving than any other!! We adopted our chow Teddy as a puppy 14 years ago, and he’s the most docile dog we’ve ever met. We adopted Barca, a dutch shepherd, from the US Air Force 3 years ago. She’s a highly trained military working dog, who is now enjoying retirement. We’ll talk about the cat later…
Not only are they sweet, but our dogs are senior citizens. We have to use this ramp to get them in and out of the fifth wheel safely!
Unfortunately, these breed restrictions are becoming more and more common. There are now more than 100 breeds of dogs currently banned or restricted somewhere in this country. And more are being added all the time. Sadly, Akitas, Boxers, Bulldogs, Chows, Dobermans, Huskies, Malamutes, Mastiffs, and Shepherds are routinely showing up on banned lists.
Since we have started traveling, we’ve realized that some campgrounds ALSO have breed restrictions. They usually cite municipal ordinances or insurance stipulations. It breaks our heart and can be frustrating, but a quick search always turns up other campgrounds who welcome our fur babies! Now it is just another item on our checklist to ensure our dogs are welcome.
Advice for Traveling with Pets
Before You Arrive
- Call Ahead. Don’t wait until you arrive and end up being disappointed. Ask the question, be clear about any restrictions. I’ve encountered campgrounds, particularly on beaches, that don’t allow pets of any kind in certain areas.
- Be Honest. If your dog is a mix breed, and one of the “mixes” is on the restricted list you may just want to pass on the campground. It’s not worth the misunderstanding and headache that can occur later if the camp host visually identifies your dog as restricted.
- Seek out Possible Exemptions. Service dogs are routinely exempted from the restrictions. However, don’t try to bend the rules and identify your dog as a service animal for these purposes. It makes it harder for people who truly need service animals.
At the Campground
The American Humane Society provides the following guidelines to ensure you and your dog are being responsible community members. If all dog owners (regardless of breed), follows these tips, it can lessen the stigma associated with pets.
- Scoop your poop. Bring several bags on your walks to be sure you have enough. If you run out, either come back and clean it up later, or ask another walker if they have a bag to spare.
- Prevent barking. Practice getting your dog’s attention to easily redirect him if he barks at people or other dogs. If you know your dog acts this way, only allow him in the yard when supervised. Learn how to handle barking and other common behavior issues here.
- Only let your dog greet a stranger if they ask. The same rule applies if you see another dog and owner approaching. Ask first and respect the other’s response.
- Always leash your dog on walks. Not everyone is comfortable around dogs. Keep your dog close to you and stay alert to others. Your leash should be short enough to prevent your dog from contacting or jumping on passersby.
- Don’t play while on leash. If you meet another dog on a walk (and it’s alright with their owner) let the dogs sniff each other for five seconds and move on. Letting your dog play with another dog while on leash can result in injury and teach your dog that all dogs enjoy this kind of interaction, although many don’t.
- Be aware of other people’s feelings. If your dog does something to upset someone (jumping up, barking) apologize to them and take measures to prevent the situation from reoccurring.
Struggling to Find Dog Friendly Campgrounds?
GoPetFriendly.com is a great resource that provides detailed pet policies for many campgrounds including any breed restrictions they impose. They have several pet friendly destination guides, and I highly recommend reading their article, Best Dog Friendly National Parks.
BringFido.com also provides information on pet friendly campgrounds.
To read how we full-time with a cat, click here.
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