Delaware State Parks Rules

Pets

Delaware State Parks is pleased to welcome you and your pet to enjoy the great outdoors together. While in the park, a dog or cat poses a real danger to wildlife and may disturb other visitors. In order to help keep our parks open to pets, responsible pet ownership is the key.

General Guidelines

  • All pets must be licensed, and proof of a rabies vaccination is required. Delaware residents must license their dog(s) in their county of residence.
    New Castle County dog licensing information
    Kent County SPCA dog licensing information
    Sussex County dog licensing information
  • While in the park, your pet must be leashed (not to exceed 6 feet) and under your control except while:
    • In designated off-leash areas.
    • Actively training for hunting in designated dog-training areas.
    • Hunting with the appropriate permit.
  • Honor all park signs that prohibit the entry of pets into specific areas.
  • Guide dogs are permitted in all pedestrian areas.
  • You must clean up after your pet.
  • Please use the “doggie dooleys” (waste composting receptacles) where available.
  • Never leave pets unattended, even in your vehicle or camper. This is especially true in the summer when the inside temperature of vehicles can become life threatening. Park rangers are authorized to break into vehicles in order to rescue an animal in distress.
  • Horses are only permitted on trails and beaches designated for riding.
  • For more information regarding areas in Delaware State Parks where pets are allowed, please contact the park you want to visit directly.
    Park Contact Information

These areas are CLOSED to pets year-round:

  • Picnic areas
  • Nature trails
  • Bird nesting areas
  • Park buildings
  • Cabins
  • Cottages
  • Yurts
  • Fort Delaware State Park (service animals allowed)

Camping with Your Pet

While in the campground, no excessive barking, especially during “quiet time” (10 p.m to 7 a.m.), will be permitted. Never leave your pet unattended either outside or inside a camping unit. The leash law will be enforced at the campgrounds. Please don’t forget you are required to clean up after your pet.

At the Beach

Pet access maps

Pets are allowed in our seashore parks, but Delaware State Law prohibits them from all swimming and sunbathing beaches from May 1 to September 30. Park rules and regulations also restrict pets from areas such as surfboarding and sailboarding beaches and shorebird nesting areas.

Beach Access

The sandy dunes found along the coast are very fragile and are protected by law. To access beaches open to pets, use the pedestrian crossings located at designated parking areas. Pets are not permitted on bathhouse boardwalks. At Gordon’s Pond and Fenwick Island, access is limited to the pedestrian dune crossing located at the northern end of the parking lot.

Boundary markers for areas open or closed to pets will typically be designated by signs posted at the seaward toe of the dune. The signs will be located at the extreme boundaries of the closed areas, unless affected by adverse tidal conditions.

Please contact the park office or a park ranger if you have any questions regarding access to specific areas.

Bird Nesting Areas

Each spring, seabirds and small wading birds arrive along Delaware’s beaches to feed, breed and fledge their young. The loss of habitat has forced beach-nesters to concentrate their efforts on only a few sites each year. Because these areas are scarce and many species of these birds are threatened or endangered, these sites are protected by law.

Nesting areas will be fenced and a sign will designate them as "Closed." Pets, people, and vehicles are prohibited.

Beach Plum Island

Pets prohibited year-round.