There’s no better way to see the USA than in an RV. And when you can bring your pup along to join in the fun, get ready to enjoy a lifetime of memorable travel adventures. But if you’ve never been RV camping with a dog before, there are lots of simple things you can do to help make your road trips safe, stress-free, and a whole lot of fun. Keep reading for our 10 simple tips on how to go RVing with a dog.
1. Safety first
Before you load up your RV and hit the road, make your fur-baby’s safety your number-one priority. If you’re thinking of leaving your dog in the trailer or camper while you drive, think again — that is simply not safe. It’s also not a good idea to let your dog travel on your lap, or to wander around in the back of an RV.
Instead, find a secure way to ensure that your dog is buckled up. Whether you use a crate or a harness that connects to a seatbelt, it’ll make traveling with a dog a whole lot safer.
2. Practice makes “pawfect”
Ask any experienced camper for advice about RV travel with dogs and many will tell you about the importance of taking it slow. Instead of setting off on a cross-country odyssey as your pup’s first taste of RV life, give them a chance to acclimate to camping with a few shorter trips first.
Start with a quick overnight trip to a destination no more than a couple of hours away, then slowly work up to longer getaways. Not only will this be a gentle introduction to RVing for your pup, it’ll also help you get a better grasp of the ins and outs of camping with dogs. You’ll discover what works and what doesn’t, and be better prepared for your next big adventure.
Check out more useful tips in our guide to training your dog to like car rides.
3. Choose a dog-friendly destination
There’s a lot to consider when camping with dogs and searching for a great destination. Not only do all the usual factors come into play — how much time you’ve got off work, how far you want to drive, what sort of experiences you want to enjoy, etc. — but you also need to plan a journey with your dog in mind.
That means researching what dog-friendly activities are on offer at the destination. For example, are there restaurants where pups are welcome? Are there lots of dog-friendly parks and beaches in the area? What about walking trails? What other attractions can you enjoy with your pup by your side?
With a little bit of research, you’ll come up with lots of dog-friendly road trip ideas.
4. Pack the essentials
Next, you’ll need to think about what to pack for your dog. Some of the items are obvious, like your pup’s leash, collar, bedding, food, and toys.
Other items are a little more unconventional. For example, a collapsible water bowl can be a very handy addition, while a reliable vacuum cleaner can help prevent your RV being covered by a thick layer of dog hair. Think carefully about where you’re going and what you’ll be doing to be sure of packing all the essentials for your pet.
It’s also a good idea to put together a pet travel pack with items you may need on the road. This can include photos (in case your pet gets lost), proof of vaccinations (which some RV parks will require before letting your dog stay), and a doggy first aid kit. And if you compile a list of local vets or animal hospitals at your destination (and along your route), you’ll be well prepared in case of an unexpected emergency.
5. Find a dog-friendly campground
If you’re going camping with a dog, there’s one crucial factor that can make or break your trip: finding the right place(s) to stay. From Alaska to Florida, there are thousands of “woofderful” dog-friendly campgrounds in every state — so how do you choose where to park your rig?
The trick is to do your research and find a campground where pets are welcomed, not just tolerated. Some RV parks that claim to be pet-friendly can actually turn out to be anything but, so check reviews from other pet-parent RVers for some inside knowledge.
And the more dog-friendly features a campground has, the better. Whether that means an off-leash area, hiking trails, or nearby parks, it’ll go a long way toward ensuring a more relaxing stay.
6. Make your RV feel like a home away from home
The one thing your dog needs more than anything else to be happy is to be right by your side. Of course, you can also make their camping experience a lot more enjoyable if you make an effort to turn your RV into a comfortable and welcoming home on wheels.
To do that, give your pooch a space they can call their very own. Whether that means setting up a crate or creating a cozy corner where your pup can rest their head — when your fur-baby has a familiar and comfortable space where they feel safe and secure, they’ll feel much more at ease setting off for an adventure.
It’s a simple step, but it can make RVing with a dog a whole lot easier.
7. Take a break
When you’re traveling with a dog, it’s not fair to expect your pup to stay cooped up in the RV while you drive for hour after hour. Not only will your pooch need regular potty breaks, but they’ll also relish the chance to get out and stretch their legs as often as possible.
Make regular stops to help make the experience more fun and interesting for your pup. You could plan your route to stop off at dog-friendly attractions along the way, or include some off-leash dog parks in your travel itinerary. Give your dog treats and plenty of fresh water to help keep the smile on their face.
It’s also a good idea to tire your pup out before spending a long day in the RV. This should help ensure that they’re much more content to sit back and relax while you cruise along the highway. You’ll find plenty of other useful tips in our guide to traveling safely with your dog.
8. Do the right thing
American pet parents are blessed with a huge range of RV parks and campgrounds across the country that welcome dogs — so let’s keep it that way. By being a model guest and a good neighbor in every campground you visit, you’ll help ensure that more campgrounds stay pet-friendly.
The best part is that being a responsible pet parent when camping with a dog isn’t hard. Check the campground’s pet policies ahead of time so you know what’s expected of you, then follow the rules closely. That means keeping your pup on a leash when required, ensuring that your pooch doesn’t disturb other campers by barking, and cleaning up after them whenever necessary.
Show a little courtesy and you and your pup will be welcomed back with open paws!
9. What to do when your dog can’t come along
While you’ll want to include your dog in as many activities as you can, it won’t always be possible to take them along. So, make sure you have a plan for what to do when you’re visiting an attraction that isn’t dog-friendly.
If you’ll only be away for a short while, you can leave your dog in the RV. Of course, you’ll need to ensure that the RV is climate controlled and that it’s completely safe for your pup.
If you’ll be away from the RV for an extended period, you can always book a local dog walker or dog sitter with Wag!. That way, you know that your pup will have a “pawtastic” time until they’re reunited with you once again.
Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun. RVing with a dog is a wonderful way to see America, so be sure to savor each and every day.
Whether you’re on an action-packed adventure, a cruisy road trip, or anything in between, there’s nothing better than sharing a truly memorable vacation with your pup. If that doesn’t put a smile on your face and a wag in your tail, we don’t know what will!