How We Made A Private Dog Run While Boondocking
As you know, my preferred campsite is in the boondocks on public property. My wife and I enjoy the solitude, scenery, and convenience. The price is right, too.
Another advantage of camping in the boondocks is that your dog typically does not need to be leashed, as there are seldom leash laws in the boonies (dispersed camping in national monuments is one of the few exceptions). We recently discovered one more positive feature of boondocking with a dog.
We were traveling with our dog-owning friends and were looking for a spot to boondock along a road that bordered fenced National Forest land.
Spying a gate in the fence, we stopped to investigate. Sure enough, there was a campfire ring on the forest service land not far from the gate indicating that this was an “approved” dispersed camping location. (The dispersed camping rules for many forest service districts and BLM lands request that campers use a site that has been used before, as evidenced by an existing fire ring.)
So if there is an existing fire ring, you can pretty much be assured that boondocking is okay. Click here to see an example of dispersed camping guidelines. Keep in mind the example is for the Fishlake National Forest, but varies per forest, so always check the guidelines for the area you wish to visit.
The unwritten rule for gates on public land in the west (especially where grazing rights are issued) is to leave gates how you found them. If open, leave them open; if closed, close them behind you.
After opening the gate, pulling the trailers through and closing it behind us, we soon had our camp set up. We quickly realized we had our own private dog run, with the closed gate and fence prohibiting our friend’s dog from wandering back onto the nearby road. How sweet is that!
Having a free fenced dog run while boondocking—just another adventure in RVing!
See also: The Good and the Bad of Full-Time RVing with Pets
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.
I’m not sure how big your dog is, but most any dog I have seen could get through that gate if it was chasing a squirrel or something. Maybe a longline and leash would be a better plan.
I do enjoy most of your articles.
Jennifer Fitzwater says
Oh yeah, even my Pyrs could get through that gate. I have to put wire fencing over my gates to keep them in.
My solution for keeping my BCs contained and still have room to run and play, is electronet (Google for pics). We (sheep and goat people) use it for rotational grazing and electrify it. I won’t be electrifying it for the dogs obviously but it is very easy to put up and take down (once you get the hang of it) as long as the ground accepts stakes. It’s 164′ long so I can make a pen all the way around the bus if I want to. It rolls up fairly tightly and is lightweight.
I ran a 1/4 cable from awning arms. Put on clip and short cable to Harley, dog not bike, can run, just not run off.
A fence shouldn’t be necessary for a well trained dog who is with with his/her human pack, and this one is only a deterrent to humans in vehicles.
If you’re RVing, the 1st thing you want to do is train your dog to stay by you and his trailer/motor home when off leash, (by sitting outside with him a few times a day). When he begins to wander past your decided distance, call him back. Just do it over and over ever day until your dog has it mapped it out. Besides, he loves you sitting out there with him. You want him to know the trailer/moho is his homebase, so even if he does run off, he knows where home is.
After a few weeks you should be able to step inside for a few minutes at a time and trust him to stay, then you can gradually lengthen the amount of minutes.
Take note, all dogs will have a break point; squirrels, ravens, rabbits, coyotes, these are my dog’s when we are at home. He works extra hard here in this RV Park to ignore these, it’s rather admirable really. It would be equal to me ignoring a frosty mug of Ice Cold Beer, a bag of tortilla chips, and a bowel of guacamole.
This may not be doable everywhere, wildlife makes a difference, Fire-Ants, Bears, Rattlesnakes, Skunks, ATVs, Quads, and Dune-Buggies, (humans are often wild).
That’s all and good but if you have ever shared your life with a retired/rescued Greyhound, you know there is no way to leave them off leash or just loose. They are bred to chase anything that moves…and they will.
allan burrows says
Dogs should be leased regardless while on public land. Otherwise they will be chasing every rabbit and deer in the area, making it that less likely that the next “public” that camps in that spot will see anything.
Andy the Gate Installer says
So, Dave, assuming yours is the Private Dog, how did you make it Run?
In all seriousness, though, exactly what did you do to MAKE a private dog run? Was it the simple act of closing the gate on the fence that someone else installed ?
Wow, Dave, that’s pretty, um, lame. Being on public land it’s not private, and not being on a leash, tether, or any other restraint, the dog can run pretty much anywhere it pleases. Sort of the antithesis of a Private Dog Run that you didn’t make.
I’m looking forward to your next entry.
Wiley Won says
I was expecting you to say that you laid a loop of wire on the ground and energized it. At home, my three dogs respect the boundaries of the virtual fence. With a few little white flags, it would not take long for them to learn some new boundaries. Each of them already has a receiver on their collar.. All they would need is few hundred feet of wire and the transmitter borrowed from our house where it isn’t being used anyway when we are on the road.
That would be true private dog run. It keeps dogs in (mostly) but doesn’t keep the snakes and coyotes out.
Now, where do I find all that public land that you guys are talking about? I live in Virginia.
Judy Bowen says
Then there are the elderly, blind, deaf 4 legged friends who have no recall!. Leashed is my mantra.
Adventures in RVing? Where’s the beef?
Jeff Kuhnhenn says
I hope all of you who let your dogs run loose pick up after your animals. We stay in a lot of state parks on the Oregon coast and so many people DON’T pick up after their pets and bring up to 4 dogs. The park hosts and Forest Service do nothing. I;m getting to the point I despise people with dogs because of the few who don;t obey the rules.
Nichole Whitener says
Agree Jeff Kuhnhenn! We love to let our pups stretch their legs but realize how important it is to be a responsible pet owner. Pick up the poo people!! Don’t ruin things for everyone.