Picture of Cape Henlopen State Park

Pets in the Park

Pets in the Park

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).
  • 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
  • Bird nesting areas
  • Park buildings
  • Cabins*
  • Cottages
  • Yurts
  • Fort Delaware State Park (service animals allowed)
  • Killens Pond Water Park

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.

* Pets in Campsites, Cabins and Cottages:

IMPORTANT NOTE: Only Dogs are permitted in designated “Dog Friendly” cabins and cottages. Any reference in the policy to a pet staying in a cottage or cabin specifically refers to dogs only.

Dogs in Waterfront Cottages and Killens Cabins: NEW

Waterfront Cottages 11 and 12 and Killens Pond Cabin #10 shall be designated as dog friendly. Occupants of dog-friendly cottages and Killens cabin who do not have a dog shall be advised upon making the reservation of the unit’s dog friendly designation.

  • $20.00 per night/per dog fee will be charged to stay in a cottage or Killens cabin.
  • No more than two pets are allowed to stay on any one campsite or designated cabin/cottage, regardless of size.
  • Pet(s) must have current rabies vaccinations and must display a valid license (if applicable). Pets must be clean and free of ticks, fleas, worms and mange.
  • For the pet’s health and safety of park staff, pets may not be left unattended in your cabin, cottage, camper or vehicle.
  • To avoid attracting rodents and wildlife, pet food must be stored in a sealable container and placed inside a camping unit, vehicle, cottage or cabin and carried out when leaving the park
  • Pets shall not be tied to bushes, trees, split rail fence or any exterior structure.
  • Only house-trained dogs are allowed in cottages/cabins. Female dogs should not be in cottages/cabins while in cycle (heat).
  • Owners must always pick up after their pet(s) and properly dispose of the waste deposited by the animal.
  • Extra fees will be assessed for damages to the cottage/cabin and/or fixtures, or if special cleaning is required. Park staff will assess damage fees based upon the materials and labor required to make any repairs necessary to return the damaged area to its condition before the damage occurred.
  • Pets must be towel dried thoroughly if they become wet before entering the cabin or cottage.
  • Dog(s) may not be rinsed or bathed inside the cottage or Killens cabin. The outside spigot may be used but the area must be cleaned of debris after washing. Dog must be towel dried before entering the cottage.
  • Pets are not permitted on the furniture or bedding at any time.
  • Excessive barking is not permitted.
  • Visitor complaints will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Enforcement action, if warranted, is at the sole discretion of the Division.
  • Refunds will not be granted if guest is asked to leave because the dog(s) is a nuisance.

The following pet restrictions shall apply to all areas of the park in accordance with Division of Parks and Recreation Rules and Regulations:

  • Pets must be leashed and under owner’s physical control at all times. Leash must not exceed six feet in length.
  • Pet owners must honor all park signs that prohibit pets in specific areas.
  • Service dogs are permitted in all areas.
  • Owners must clean up after their pets.
  • Pets must not be left unattended.
  • All other park rules & regulations apply.