If you’re a pet lover who wants to take your furry friend on vacation with you, you may be wondering how to travel in a camper, van or recreational vehicle with a dog. It’s not as difficult as it might seem! In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best ways on how to RV with a dog easy and comfortable for both of you. We’ll also cover some of the restrictions that are placed on RVers when traveling with their pets.
“Vanlife with a dog is a lot of fun, and we recommend it wholeheartedly. There are definitely some tradeoffs that come with living in a vehicle with a dog, but for us the positives far outweigh the challenges. We love adventuring with our two best friends – they always remind us to stay present and embrace the joy in life, they encourage us to get outside and explore, and they’re the best cuddle bugs we could possibly hope for.” – Jayme and John from Gnomadhome.com, discussing Nymeria and Delilah
How to Train your Dog for RV Travel
RVing with a pet can be a great way to travel – as long as you’re prepared for it. By following these tips, you can make sure that both you and your furry friend have a safe and enjoyable trip!
You first need to get your dog used to being in the RV or camper. If they’ve never been in one before, start by letting them explore the inside of the RV while it’s parked. This will help them get used to the new smells and sounds. Once they’re comfortable with this, Kristin from TheWaywardhome.com recommends you can take short drives around town before embarking on a long road trip.
“This will help identify potential logistical issues that may come up such as storing doggy items, where their area might be while driving, how food and water bowls will be accessible for them, etc.,” – Kristin
Ensure Your Dog Is Crate Trained
It’s also important to make sure that your dog is crate trained or used to being in a confined space. This will be their safe space while the RV is moving, and they should be comfortable spending time in it.
You can start by letting them eat meals in their crate, then gradually increase the amount of time they spend in it until they’re comfortable staying there for long periods.
Finally, getting your dog used to the idea of being away from home is important. This means leaving them with a trusted friend or family member for short periods of time and gradually increasing the amount of time they’re gone. This will help them feel more comfortable being in the RV without you and will make the transition smoother for both of you.
Where will your dog sleep?
One of the most important things to consider when traveling in an RV or camper with a dog is where your pet will sleep.
I have even seen people with small dogs put their dog’s bed on their lap while driving. This is not recommended as dogs should always be safely restrained in either a travel crate or via a harness into a seat belt whilst a vehicle is moving.
There are also some great compact travel beds on the market that are specifically designed for use in RVs and can be packed away when not in use. But many people opt for a semi-permanent dog bed that can be built into the RV. Some campers feature little ‘hidey holes’ for dogs, in place of additional storage such as a cupboard. The main point is to confirm that your dog feels comfortable in this place and that it is large enough for them to stretch out and sleep comfortably.
When I have traveled, I just let my pooch snuggle in with me in my bed – on their own blanket, of course (and after making sure they are clean).
Food and Water
When it comes to food and water, you’ll need to make sure that you have enough for both you and your pet – and don’t be stingy with the water calculations either. This might mean you have to carry additional containers of water, or plan closer intervals for resupply points – either closer together or more frequently.
A large dog such as a labrador or rottweiler will have similar water needs to a human and need around 3+L of water per day – they can’t sweat the same way as humans (they have small sweat glands on their pads, and will open their mouth to pant), so providing adequate water is important to prevent heat stroke in warmer conditions.
It may be difficult to keep large quantities of wet pet food such as raw meats or even canned wet food, so the most convenient option is to pack high-quality, dry kibble for your dog as well as lightweight and space-efficient treats such as raw hides.
You should also make sure that any medications or supplements that your pet takes are packed and easily accessible. This is especially important if your pet has any chronic health conditions that require daily medication. My cocker for example had chronic arthritis, so we made sure to have her meloxicam in a container with our toiletries so we knew where it was.
Restrictions on Pets in RVs
There are some places where you won’t be able to take your RV or camper if you have a pet with you. For example, many National and State Parks and Forests prohibit pets – although there are usually designated areas outside of the park boundaries where you can camp with your pet. It’s always best to check the rules and regulations before setting off on your trip.
Some private campgrounds or carvan parks also have restrictions on pets – often due to noise or hygiene (toileting) concerns from other guests. These campgrounds will usually have signs posted at the entrance letting you know if they allow pets or not.
Cleaning Up After a Dog in an RV
One of the most important things to remember when traveling with a pet in an RV is you’ll need to clean up after them inside and outside the vehicle.
This means regular vacuuming and sweeping to avoid pet hair buildup and cleaning up any accidents that may happen inside the RV. It’s also essential to properly dispose of your dog’s waste when you’re outdoors.
Most campgrounds will have designated areas for pets to relieve themselves, and will provide poop bags – but if not, it’s always best to come prepared with your own. Then, once your dog has done their business, simply scoop it up with a baggie (or pooper scooper) and dispose of it in the campground’s trash cans.
Keeping your Dog Healthy and Entertained on an RV Trip
The last thing you want is for your dog to get sick or injured while you’re on the road, so it’s important to take steps to prevent this from happening.
This means keeping up with their vaccinations and routine worming/flea/tick treatments, as well as bringing along any medications that they may need. It’s also a good idea to pack a first-aid kit for both humans and dogs, in case of any accidents.
As far as entertainment goes, there are plenty of ways to keep your dog happy and occupied while on an RV trip.
One of the best things you can do is make sure that they have plenty of toys to play with – both inside and outside the RV. This could include things like chew toys, balls, Frisbees, and tug ropes.
You should generally also bring along their bed or crate if you can, so that they have a familiar place to sleep. And if you’re traveling with more than one dog, it’s important to make sure that they each have their own space – especially if they don’t usually get along.
It is also not advised to go on an RV trip with your dog on extreme weather conditions – hot or cold. Heat can be helped with something like a Camper Air Conditioner however these are ineffective in extreme heat and this can lead to heat exhaustion in your dog.
RVing with a pet can be a great way to travel – as long as you’re well prepared. By following these tips, you can learn how to RV with a dog in no time and ensure that both you and your furry friend have a safe and enjoyable trip!
I am no stranger to the open road and have previously road tripped and camped my way all around Australia in a station wagon and a tent as I progressed from job to job building flying experience for my aviation career.
I love camping and now enjoy taking holidays and getaways in camper vans with my partner and my dog. Things that really attract me to van life are the Freedom, Minimalism and Financial Independence it brings.
I also have family and close friends that are widely dispersed all over the country, so having my own little mobile home on wheels is the perfect solution to stay in touch with everyone.