Cape Cod Dog Policy
Cape Cod National Seashore is Somewhat Dog Friendly
Cape Cod National Seashore encompasses 40 miles of beaches, marshes, and higher land. There are several lighthouses and historic landscapes. The Seashore offers many opportunities to swim, walk, and bike.
Cape Cod National Seashore is somewhat dog friendly. Dogs are allowed on a few trails, all fire roads, and on some areas of the beaches (beach access varies through the year -- see below).
Cape Cod National Seashore also runs a BARK Ranger program (see the BARK Ranger section below).
Dogs are allowed on the following trails while on a leash no longer than 6':
- Head of the Meadow Bicycle Trail (Year round)
- Province Lands and Nauset Bike Trails (11/1 - 4/30 only)
Dogs are not allowed on nature trails or other bike trails.
In the summer, dogs are allowed on non-lifeguard beaches that do not have shorebird nesting closures (which are usually between March and October 15, but please see the NPS pet policy for details).
Dogs are usually allowed on all beaches between October 15 and approximately March (outside of nesting bird season), but please check the Pet Policy on the NPS site for details, as this can vary. Dogs are also allowed in freshwater ponds between October 16 and May 14.
Bark Ranger is a really great program that some National Park Service destinations run. The Bark Ranger program teaches dog owners responsible behaviors with their dogs, and in return you get a special dog tag that’s different for each park (note: some parks require you to purchase the tag at the end). You start the program by going to a park office and picking up a checklist. When you complete the checklist (see the link below for more details), you can get your special dog tag.
B.A.R.K. is an acronym for:
- B: Bag your poop
- Help keep the park clean by bagging and picking up your dog poop, and properly disposing of it. Don’t leave your bagged poop on the side of the trail, hanging from branches, or throw it into the woods. Please note dog poop is not a natural fertilizer — it can carry disease that can spread to wildlife or other dogs.
- A: Always wear a leash
- Dogs must be restrained on a leash no longer than 6'. Retractable leashes that extend beyond 6' are not allowed. Not everyone appreciates a dog running up to them, and many people are scared or allergic to dogs — a leash prevents uncomfortable situations between your dog and others. Leashes also help protect your dog from running off if anything spooks them.
- R: Respect wildlife
- Dogs can chase or scare wildlife such as birds and turtles. They can also damage nesting areas. Some parks have wildlife, such as bears, coyotes, or wolves, that can threaten your dog. Please be respectful of wildlife with your dog, and if you do encounter wildlife, keep dog at distance to protect both your dog and the wildlife.
- K: Know where to go
- Know which trails allow dogs, and which don’t. Don’t leave dogs unattended in vehicles while you go off to hike. See the link below for more details.
For more information on the Bark Ranger program, please see: https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/become-a-cape-cod-b-a-r-k-ranger.htm
We also have a list of all parks that run the BARK Ranger program.