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Camping with your dog in Indiana? Make sure you understand DNR's 6-foot leash rule

Dog owners should get familiar with how to properly leash or cage their pets if they plan on heading to a state park or recreation area in Indiana.
Credit: Kimmie Guy
Lakeside camping in Southern Indiana - Starve Hollow Recreation Area

INDIANA, USA — Its a summertime tradition, packing your car to the brim with s'mores, camping tents, sunscreen and booking it to Turkey Run, Lake Monroe or Fort Harrison for a weekend. 

But make sure to pack a 6-foot leash or cage if you're bringing the family dog along because an Indiana code could hogtie your trip entirely if you don't. 

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources mandates pet owners and people who are accompanied by service animals must keep their animals on a leash no longer than 6 feet, or inside a cage.

Pet fences are not considered a workaround to that rule.  

"We have seen an increase in the use of portable pet fencing over the last several years. Pet fences cannot be substituted for the use of a 6-foot leash or a cage when you have your pet or pets at your campsite," the Indiana State Parks organization said in a Facebook post outlining the regulations on March 22. 

Your pet must be attended at all times and are only allowed off the leash or out of their cage when they're inside a car, tent or camper. That includes pets traveling with mountain bikers and horse riders. 

Dogs and pets must be leashed while on hiking trails, picnic areas, boat ramps and campgrounds while on DNR property. 

Tents, recreational vehicles and associated equipment to provide cover from the weather are permitted on campsites under the codes, but pet fencing is still not allowed. 

Electric fences, leashes or other electric control methods are also prohibited. 

However, portable, collapsible playpens or cribs are permitted for children.

"If it's not possible to keep your pet on a 6-foot leash, the best and safest option is for your pet to stay at home," DNR said. 

There are some exceptions to the rule. 

At reservoirs including Patoka, Brookville, Cagles Mill, Cecil M. Harden, Salamonie, Mississinewa, Monroe, or Hardy, dogs may be permitted to be off-leash when in "lawful pursuit of wild animals" or when authorized by a license for field trials or in a designated training areas.

Pets are also prohibited at:

  • Swimming pools
  • Beaches (unless specifically designated for pets)
  • Rented recreation buildings
  • Pioneer Village at Spring Mill State Park
  • Public buildings


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