9 Tips for RVing with Your Dog

Updated: 4/29/2021
There’s only one way to make an RV vacation even better than it already is — bring your pup along for the ride. RVing with a dog is a "woofderful" way to see the country, enjoy a host of memorable experiences, and form a lifelong bond with your pet.

But RV camping with a dog isn’t as straightforward as just jumping in your motorhome or hitching up the trailer and hitting the road. Planning ahead will make your journey as safe and stress-free as possible. Keep reading for our top tips for successful RV travel with dogs.

Start small

If your pup’s first experience of RV camping is a cross-country road trip, don’t expect it to end well. So instead of throwing your pooch in the deep end, give them a chance to adjust to RVing by taking a few smaller trips first.

Start with a couple of overnight trips to destinations within a couple of hours of home. This will give you a chance to figure out what works and what doesn’t, and let your pet grow accustomed to the idea of life on the road.

You can then graduate to traveling bigger distances and spending more time away from home. 

Training your dog to go RVing

Before you go RV camping with a dog, it’s essential to make sure your dog is prepared for the RV lifestyle. 

For example, maybe you’ll need to train your pup to like car rides. Maybe they’ll need a refresher on how to walk calmly on a leash, how to stay calm around strangers, or just how to behave in public. Some pups may even need to be trained to stop barking to ensure that they’re always on their best behavior at the RV park.

Once they’ve mastered all these essential skills, they’ll be ready to hit the road.  

Make your RV dog-friendly

Another key to success when RV camping with a dog is to help your pup feel right at home. This means creating dedicated spaces for your pooch to travel and sleep, and making them as comfortable as possible for your fur-baby. If they’ve got a plush and cozy space to retire to at the end of a long day, your pooch should be a whole lot happier on the road. 

You’ll also need to take steps to ensure that your RV is completely pet-safe. That means keeping any cleaning chemicals out of reach, fixing other potential hazards like exposed cables, and maybe even making changes like choosing flooring that is easier to clean.

It might take a little bit of work, but the peace of mind that provides is well worth the effort.

Put together a packing list for your pet

Now it’s time to think about what you need to pack for your fur-baby. Put together a list of all the things your pup will need on their RVing escape — you can then add and remove items as you figure out what your pup does and doesn’t need on the road.

Here’s a quick checklist to help get you started:

  • Dog bed and bedding
  • Food and treats
  • Food and water bowls
  • Dog car harness/crate/car seat
  • Leash
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Doggy medications
  • Toys
  • Cleaning supplies

Your pup may need additional supplies, depending on where you’re traveling and what you’ll be doing when you get there. For example, if you’re headed for the beach, maybe your pup will need a doggy life vest. If you’ll be leaving your pup alone in the RV, an RV temperature monitoring system is a good idea.

There’s plenty to consider, so take the time to think carefully about what to pack.

Plan your route with your dog in mind

Traveling with a dog is quite a unique situation as it forces you to rethink your travel itinerary to a certain extent. Instead of just going wherever the mood takes you, it’s important to think about the destinations and experiences your pup might enjoy.

For example, maybe you’d like to adjust your route to take in some of the best local off-leash parks along the way. Maybe there’s a dog-friendly walking trail you’d like to explore with your pup. Or maybe you want to treat your pooch to a day at a dog-friendly beach.

Whatever the case may be, add as many dog-friendly stops to your trip as possible — your pup will be thrilled!

Search for the best dog-friendly places to stay

One of the key things to remember when RVing with dogs is that just because a campground is advertised as pet-friendly, that may not actually be the case. Check the fine print and you’ll find that some parks only allow dogs under a certain weight limit. Some restrict certain breeds altogether, while others impose tough rules on canine campers.

That’s why it’s important to do your research before you travel. Check each campground’s pet regulations to find out how they’ll affect you and your pet. Before you book, take a look at campground reviews from other pet parents to find out just how dog-friendly a campground really is.

To help get you started, check out our guide to dog-friendly campgrounds across the country.

Staying safe on the road—for you and your dog

One of the key rules of RV travel with dogs is to never let your dog roam freely throughout the RV while you’re driving. Whenever you’re on the road, your pup should be safely and securely buckled up. From travel crates and harnesses to special doggy seats, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Next, make sure your pup is as comfortable as possible. That means keeping the temperature at a suitable level, ensuring adequate ventilation, and providing plenty of fresh water.

Finally, make sure you take regular pit stops along the way. Not only will this give weary drivers a rest, but it’s also important that your pup gets regular opportunities to stretch their legs and go potty.

Know (the rules) before you go

Every RV park and campground has its own rules and regulations regarding pets. So if you’re camping with a dog, be sure to familiarize yourself with those rules before you arrive.

Here are a few common rules:

  • Dogs must be kept on a leash, usually 6 feet or shorter, whenever they’re outside your RV
  • Dogs must never be left unattended
  • You must clean up after your pup at all times
  • Aggressive behavior towards other pets or people will not be tolerated
  • Dogs mustn’t disturb other guests with their barking
  • Certain areas of the campground or RV park where dogs are not permitted, such as the bathrooms or swimming pool
If you know the rules and stick to them, plus make an effort to show courtesy to other campers, you and your pup will be welcome back anytime.

Camping with canines
If you’re worried about what sort of risks your dog may face during your journey, it’s worth remembering that RV camping with a dog is all about the 4 Ws: Weather, Wildlife, Workouts, and What to do in case of an emergency.
  • Weather. In a “pawfect” world, the sun would shine brightly on every day of your RV adventure. In reality, severe weather can pose health risks to your pet. From temperature extremes causing heatstroke and hypothermia to storms posing the risk of injury, you need to keep an eye on the conditions at all times.
  • Wildlife. When you’re on the road, you and your pup might come across different and sometimes dangerous wildlife you’d never encounter at home. From ticks and snakes to bears and bobcats, there are plenty of creatures that can potentially harm your fur-baby. Research the risks before you go and make sure you know how to avoid any potentially nasty experiences.
  • Workouts. Regular exercise and mental stimulation are essential for every dog, regardless of whether you’re at home or on the road. So when you’re RVing with a dog, make sure to give them plenty of opportunities to raise their heart rate and put their brain to work. This will keep your pup happy and healthy, plus help ensure that they’re a better-behaved campground guest.
  • What to do in case of an emergency. Finally, make sure you research where local vets are located before you travel. This will ensure that you can access veterinary help quickly if something goes wrong on the road.

And that’s it. These simple tips will help you and your pup have a memorable and safe adventure every time you hit the road in your RV. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your next dog-friendly RV adventure!

Book me a walkiee?
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd