By Mel Lee-Smith
Published: 09/25/2020, edited: 09/21/2021
Save on pet insurance for your pet
You don't have to choose between your pet and your wallet when it comes to expensive vet visits. Prepare ahead of time for unexpected vet bills by finding the pawfect pet insurance.
RVing with a dog is a wonderful way to see the country. Not only do you get to see and enjoy a host of iconic sights and experiences, but you get to do it all with your pup by your side.
Unfortunately, finding a suitable place to camp for the night isn’t always easy. While there are many RV parks that welcome dogs, some of them are a whole lot more pet-friendly than others. But there are also some RV parks that simply don’t allow dogs, so you’ll need to research ahead of time to find out where you can and can’t stay.
Let’s take a look at how to find the best dog-friendly RV parks when RV camping with a dog.
Many RV parks allow dogs — but some don’t
There are thousands of RV parks that welcome dogs across the USA, and you’ll find some of the best of them in our state-by-state list of dog-friendly campgrounds.
Unfortunately, not all park owners are open-minded when it comes to pets. They’ll usually make it quite clear upfront that there are no pets allowed — but that’s their loss! Responsible pet parents make “pawfect” guests, so you’re better off taking your business elsewhere.
Some RV parks don't explicitly state whether they welcome pets or not, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your dog won’t be allowed to stay. If you’re unsure, contact the RV park directly to find out about their pet policies and whether they permit camping with dogs.
Some RV parks ban specific breeds
Even if a park is listed as pet-friendly, it’s well worth reading the fine print for any exclusions. For example, you might come across a park that doesn’t allow certain breeds, such as Pit Bulls, Dobermans, Mastiffs, and Rottweilers. Other parks may limit four-legged guests to “small dogs only”, or place a weight limit (such as 60 lbs) on canine guests.
But don’t assume this means park owners are biased against certain dogs — this may simply be a requirement as part of their liability insurance.
It doesn’t matter how sweet-natured or lovable your pooch may be — if they’re on the excluded list, don’t bother trying to sneak them in. You’re much better off finding a dog-friendly RV park nearby and enjoying a relaxing stay.
RV parks that welcome dogs of all shapes and sizes
Now we get to the good part — the RV parks where camping with dogs of any breed or size is permitted. You'll find many dog-friendly campgrounds all across the country that offer everything you and your pup need for a comfortable stay.
But don’t take that to mean that you and your pooch will have free rein throughout the entire park. Every park will have some sort of rules and regulations governing four-legged campers, so make sure you read the fine print closely before booking a site.
Some of the common rules to keep an eye out for when RV camping with a dog include:
Dedicated pet sites. Some parks welcome dogs on all sites, while others have a mix of pet-friendly and non-pet-friendly sites. Make sure you book a site that allows dogs.
Limits on the number of dogs per campsite. It’s becoming increasingly common for park owners to place a limit on the number of dogs allowed per campsite. Two is a regularly-quoted limit, so there are some RV parks where multi-dog families won’t be welcome.
Dogs are only allowed in certain areas. Virtually every park will specify areas where your dog can and can’t go. For example, don’t expect your pup to be allowed in the showers or the swimming pool area.
Pet fees. A small nightly pet fee applies at many RV parks, while some parks also require pet parents to pay a refundable deposit.
Proof of vaccinations. If you’re going RVing with a dog, be aware that some parks will request proof of your pup’s rabies vaccination with you.
Keep your dog on a leash. Most RV parks require you to keep your pet leashed at all times when outside your RV. The leash may also be limited to a maximum length, typically 6 feet.
Never leave your dog unattended. Some parks will require you to never leave your dog unattended while outside the RV, while others will request that you never leave your pup unattended under any circumstances.
Always clean up after your pet. This rule is one worth following everywhere you go, regardless of whether you’re camping with a dog or just going for a walk around the block. Be sure to take plenty of poop bags with you before hitting the road.
Prevent barking. Park manages (and your fellow campers) take a dim view of noise disturbances. If your pet repeatedly disturbs the peace with their barking, you may be asked to leave.
No aggressive behavior allowed. Park rules often also state that if your dog behaves aggressively towards people or other dogs, you may be asked to leave. If your pup can’t play nice, maybe you’d be better off finding a dog boarder or sitter to care for them while you set off for an RV vacation.
RV parks with dog-friendly features
Plenty of RV parks are dog-friendly, but some are really dog-friendly. If you’re going RVing with a dog, these parks offer a welcoming home away from home for you and your pup.
The list of features you can expect at these establishments will get your pup's tail wagging. Many parks offer off-leash areas where your pup can stretch their legs and do some socializing after a long day on the road. Others offer easy access to nearby hiking trails, sometimes even leaving from the campground, or have dog-friendly swimming beaches and lakes.
And then there are those RV parks with on-site pet grooming facilities if your pup needs some pampering, or daycare services if you’re planning a day trip you can’t do with your pup. Some even spoil canine guests with special doggy welcome bags upon arrival — what a treat!
Tips for RVing with a dog
Before you jump in your RV and go exploring, there are a few simple travel tips for dogs that’ll help make your next RV park visit a whole lot more enjoyable:
Do your research. Don’t just turn up at a new RV park and expect everything to be A-OK. Instead, research the parks you plan on visiting before you go. That way, you can find out what dogs are welcome and where they’re allowed within the park — and if you’re unsure about anything, you can always contact the park directly to find out more.
Read the fine print. Take a close look at a park’s pet policies so you know exactly what is and isn’t permitted when it comes to pets. You'll know what to expect when you arrive and you won’t fall foul of any unexpected rules.
Look for recommendations. There’s no one better at identifying a great dog-friendly park than pet parents. Ask friends and family for their recommendations of places to stay when RVing with a dog, and check online reviews to find out just how pet-friendly a park really is.
Mind your pup’s manners. An RV park is a new, unusual, and interesting environment for your dog, so it’s important to ensure that their excitement doesn’t get the better of them. Before you start traveling, help your pup brush up on some key skills like being quiet, accepting strangers, and how to behave in public. A little bit of etiquette goes a long way to ensuring a successful stay.
Be a “pawfect” guest. Last but not least, follow all the park rules and take care to always show courtesy to others. If you can do that, you’ll be doing your bit to enhance the reputation of canine campers.
Remember these simple tips and RV travel with dogs will soon become your favorite type of vacation. Why not begin searching for dog-friendly RV parks and start planning your next road trip?