- Angle, an English Sheepdog
- Higgins, the family German Shepherd
- Coco, a chubby French Poodle
- and my present and longest lived dog Rascal, an 18 year old Pomeranian-Yorkie mix
To say that our pets have always been an important part of our lives is, by far, an understatement. There is an equally long list of past and present dogs spread throughout my siblings and other relatives.
Camping registers very high on the activity list of most of my relatives as well. Being raised in northern Minnesota, heading for a Superior National Forest campground has always been something to look forward to. Of course, the family dog always comes along to join in the fun!
As is the case with many National Forest campgrounds, the lack of supervising personnel is quite apparent. Many times, we spend the whole weekend without a single park ranger or maintenance person even making a quick pass through the campground to assure that all is well.
Of course, this is part of the draw to camping in such places. Getting back into a woodsy setting makes these small campgrounds very attractive. It’s fun to hang out in a place where the campsites are large with enough trees and greenery between them that you almost feel as if you’re the only ones there.
99% of the time, everyone respects those who are there for the same reason and an enjoyable experience is had by all. Sadly, the few times we’ve had problems, it was usually because of aggressive dogs at other campsites.
Why people keep very large dogs that go absolutely crazy trying to break loose from the chains that bind them is something I just don’t understand.
Two particular instances stand out in my memory…
#1 Once we were spending a quiet weekend at a nice lakeside campground about 50 miles north of Duluth, MN. Another group moved into a campsite about 300 feet away. We didn’t know it at the time, but they had a couple of Rottweiler dogs. One, in particular, was the size of a Siberian Tiger and was just as vicious.
As I was walking down the road past their campsite, I was met by this huge dog that was not chained. He lunged toward my 7-pound Pomeranian-Yorkie mix and I — as if we were a terrible threat to his domain. I stopped in my tracks, snatching my little dog into my arms by the leash I was leading him on. We simply froze in place.
Though I’m by no means a dog expert, the following tips may help you if this situation happens to you:
- Stop where you are. Do not attempt to turn and run, or the dog will be on you in a second.
- Maintain eye contact with the dog, and don’t scream out. Remain as calm and steady as possible. Showing fear may elevate the situation.
- Call for help calmly. Don’t scream, just talk loud. I called out to the owners to come retrieve their dog because it wasn’t backing off on its own.
- If no help is available, back away slowly, while maintaining eye contact with the aggressive dog. Hopefully he is protecting what he thinks is his boundary and he won’t leave his campsite to pursue you.
This video describes many of the same tips:
#2 Recently, we stayed at another National Forest campground near our home.
A large family/group of campers halfway around the loop from us actually had 4 large and aggressive dogs staked out about 10-feet apart around their campsite. A German Shepherd, a Pit Bull, and 2 others that I couldn’t identify.
Fortunately, they remained securely chained at all times, and when they were walked, they were always on a strong leash.
Other than the noise created when the whole pack became enraged by the passing of a camper who was just walking by, it was an uneventful weekend. We just made a point of not walking past their campsite, feeling that it was better to avoid the possibility of one actually breaking loose from its tether!
Campground Dogs & Aggressive Dog Behavior
There are a wide variety of dogs that are very territorial and very protective of their owners and their surroundings. They may make acceptable family pets at home, but they present a clear danger to others when located where innocent passersby might cross their path.
Of course, there’s a lot of controversy about exactly which dog breeds fall into this category (just check out the comments). It’s worth noting that some lists include dogs that can do the most damage when they do bite, rather than dogs that are the most li
kely to bite in the first place.
Sadly, some people feel the need to intentionally capitalize on these genetic traits and do everything they can to promote aggressive dog behavior. This makes for a dangerous mix when they place their dog in a situation where they may be within reach of other unfamiliar people and animals.
Before You Take Your Dog Camping
Without a doubt, taking your family dog along on RV trips is part of the fun. (Our dog sure puts up a fuss if he thinks he’s going to be left behind.) We’ve enjoyed RV camping with our dog Rascal for years now. But he’s never shown any aggressive tendencies and he’s always closely within our reach.
Those of us who want to enjoy the beauty of our national forests simply ask that if your dog has the ability to show aggressive behavior in non-threatening situations, please make arrangements for your dog to stay home. Otherwise, you are placing yourself (and others) in a risky situation with legal repercussions.
Having such an animal present in a family-oriented area where children run free is just asking for something bad to happen.
In Related News…
The top 2 nuisances that RV park owners like least about RVers are actually pet-related:
- #1 Pet poop ~ the failure to pick up after pets
- #2 Barking dogs ~ unattended RVs with barking dogs