The “Petiquette” of camping with pets.
By Willie Bromehead.
Been able to camp with their pets is important to many people who go camping. They would not be able to travel unless their pet was able to accompany them. What is important is that you must train both yourself and your pet to live according to the rules of the resort. If you don't, you will make it difficult for other campers who also camp or want to camp with their pets. It’s not the pets who are irresponsible and careless, it is simply that some pet owners are, or are unaware of the etiquette and protocol of camping with their pet.
Read and respect the rules of the park.
Usually, most South African caravan parks allow small dogs on a leash. Most often there is no additional charge beyond your regular fee, but some parks charge an extra fee a night per pet. A lot of caravan parks have banned pets because of those inconsiderate people who have ruined it for other campers. If we all observe the basics with regards to pet control in parks, we just might see more caravan parks again allowing pets in future. Needless to say, National parks, nature reserves and game reserves or parks, will for obvious reasons not allow pets. Accept this rule and respect it.
While there are few formal rules about camping with pets, most caravan parks do require that pets remain on a leash or be otherwise controlled. It would be a good idea to bring along a portable “pet fence” that can be easily erected at your campsite to allow your pet some freedom and fresh air without being leashed all the time. This is easy enough to construct yourself, and very light and quick to erect. More about this further on.
It would also be a good idea if parks that allowed small pets to set aside a small area of grass for use as a "pet potty". This area would then double-up as an off-leash area where a pet can run and sniff to its heart's content. Campers however will be required to attend to and watch over their pet at all times, and not simply leave the pet un-attended in these areas, and to clean up after their pets in the “pet potty” area. It will nevertheless mean that campers with pets will have to acquire a “poop-scoop’ which is not expensive and is readily available from most pet shops.
It is also a simple task to pick up the doggie mess with a cheap plastic sandwich bag. By putting your hand into the plastic bag as if it was a glove, it is a simple matter of picking the doggy-do mess up. Then grab the bag envelope flap and turn the bag inside out and tie it off, which will put the doggy-do safely in the bag. Deposit the bag in the refuse bin. This way, you do not have to get any mess on your hands.
The biggest complaint from campers, who do not have pets, about those with pets, is always as regards incessant and uncontrolled dog barking. Some owners leave their campsites to sightsee, hike, go fishing or shop, and leave their dogs alone inside their caravan or tied up outside for hours on end. Fellow campers are often forced to endure barking and howling until the owners return, a terribly frustrating and even maddening experience for those who must endure the noise. If you do leave your pet alone in your caravan on a warm day, be sure it has plenty water and the windows are open or leave the air conditioner, if fitted, on. In any event, the fan should be on the whole time you are out.
Another major complaint from non-pet campers is when the pet is allowed to roam un-restrained. More often than not, the male will always “lift its leg” on other campers’ tents or motor vehicles tyres. This is not an easy one to train your male dog from not carrying out. The answer here is: do not allow your dog to roam around in the caravan park un-supervised or off its leash.
If there is not a designated “doggie area”, you must always find a good place for your pet to "go to the bathroom". Do not allow your dog to mess on or in the flower gardens, playground or next to the swimming pool within the caravan park. Control the dog with a TIGHT SHORT LEASH. Your dog will wait until you get to the optimum spot and when you see other people with pets, shorten the leash even more. Teach your pet to heel. This is good obedience training. Pets are much like children, they have to be watched and taught correctness.
Always try to be courteous with other pet owners, and let the pets meet and greet. This will break the ice and you can tactfully discuss the rules about petiquette to irresponsible pet owners if necessary. Try to be positive and friendly, and they will more likely take your advice if you don't accuse them of wrongdoing or attempt to “preach” to them. Speakgenerically, as if it is not them you are trying to correct. Of course there are times that one must be direct, but try to leave that up to the management of the caravanpark if possible.
Here is an idea for an easy and in-expensive-to-build pet fence.
Shade-cloth comes in three-meter wide lengths. Three or four meters will suffice. Cut the shade-cloth in half. There is a middle clearly marked on the shade cloth. Sew a 300mm hem to allow a bottom flap similar to the bottom of your tent walls. Join the two lengths, and at the ends and every 1800mm or so, sew a folded over pocket for the posts to slide through. Fit the tent ring grommets onto the folded flap, as well as along the hem. (One tent grommet either side of the post and two equidistant in between should be adequate.) This is so that you can insert the tent pegs to hold the “fence” firmly in place. The tent pegs, as well as holding the flap down, should effectively prevent your dog from crawling under the net fence. At the extreme ends of the “fence” we have sewn Velcro on, as well as on our caravan tent walls where the fence meets the wall at either side. This gives a very solid and firm attachment to the tent wall, and you can safely step over the “fence”. The Velcro allows a speedy release from the side of the tent should you want to open up for quicker entry and exit.
With a four pound steel hammer, drive the solid round bar 300 – 400mm into the ground. Slide the aluminium posts into the “pockets” at the ends and centres of the net-fence, and slide the post over the round bar that you have driven into the ground. No guy-ropes will now be needed, but should you want to really make the fence look actually smart and taught, fit tent pole ends into the one end (at the top) of each post. A length of rope with the eyelets and ‘dog bone’ rope tightness, and a few tent pegs will hold the posts firm.
There are other ways to make up a pet fence: I’ve seen many versions that other campers have made, but I feel that this method of mine is not only quick and easy to make and erect, but takes up so little space. The storage box holds the shade cloth fence as well as ropes and tent pegs.
Hey, if you do it right you can enjoy your pet almost anywhere. Just be considerate of others.