There has been much debate over the years about what you can and cannot do in a cemetery.  What are the rules? Can you walk on a grave?  Can you bring your pet? Can you bring a deceased owners dog to visit?

So many questions have popped up, so here's what I found.

Many cemeteries do not allow pets.  Why?  Because they're sacred, quiet places to respect the deceased, and if pets are running around without a leash, they could be a disruption, or walk all over graves.

Visitors Paid Their Respects Americans Killed In Wars At Arlington National Cemetery's Section 60
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There's also the issue of owners not picking up after their dogs. Many owners respect cemetery protocol, but many don't.  How many times do you see pet waste while walking your own pet, and wonder why people think it's ok?

What if you want to bring a pet to visit its deceased owner?  Many cemeteries say yes, if the pet is on a leash and well-behaved. Did you know dogs can smell up to 40 feet underground, according to It makes me wonder if they can smell their deceased owner six feet under.

National cemeteries say no to pets, except service animals, but it changes from state to state, even in New England.  There are 155 national cemeteries for our military, and you can look them up at  Some do allow pets on a leash, while others prohibit pets.

MivPiv/Getty Images
MivPiv/Getty Images

According to, cemetery etiquette for pets and people draw common lines.  Pick up trash and pet waste. Don't walk on graves. Don't play loud music.  Don't let your children or pets run wild. Only visit from dawn to dusk. Don't drive fast. Stay on the paved paths unless you need to walk to your loved one's grave, but don't step on any graves. Be respectful. It's a sacred, contemplative place.

At the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen, pets must be leashed and stay on pavement, according to

In Portland, Maine, pets are not allowed in Western and Eastern Cemeteries. However, Evergreen and Forest City Cemeteries allow pets if on a 25' leash, says

In Massachusetts, says a fine can be imposed if passing through a cemetery and not using the paved paths.  That can mean your pets can get you fined, too, if they don't stay on the paved driveways.  Massachusetts hast two national cemeteries in Winchendon and Agawam.

If you plan to take a stroll through a cemetery, whether paying tribute to a loved one or just out for a walk, keep your pets leashed and read and head the rules of the cemetery.  There's no blanket rule for pets, except the one word which pops up for every graveyard: "respect".

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Gallery Credit: Megan Murphy

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