One of the reasons we decided to become full-time RVers was the added bonus that we could bring our dog Gypsy on our RV adventure with us. When you’re a dog lover, you want to bring your furry friend on vacation with you rather than leave them at home!
We have found that many RV owners have dogs. Done correctly, living the RV life with dogs can be safe and rewarding for the whole family.
We adopted our fur baby 11 years ago, she was our first born and was abandoned as a puppy. Thankfully someone who fosters dogs, saw her wandering along a major highway and brought her home.
Since then she hated every time a suitcase appeared because she knew she was getting left behind! She has one of those faces that tug at your heart strings, which makes it really hard to leave her behind..
It was hard, we’re not gonna lie.
A huge benefit of full-time RVing is the fact that she comes with us everywhere we go nowadays. We love having her with us, RVing with dogs is a great way to meet fellow campers along the way. We have met so many great people while out walking our dog.
If you are thinking about bringing your four legged friends with you on your RV trip, we are going to teach you about RV pet safety, as well as some necessary RV dog essentials when RVing with dogs.
Camping with dogs is so much fun, but there are some pet safety tips you should be aware of and some dog RV accessories you need to purchase before your trip!
RV Pet Safety Tips Dog Owners Need To Know
RVing with dogs is a really fun way to travel. We can have our beautiful furry friend with us at all times, she loves it and so do we! We have met lots of people who have been RVing with their dogs for years, we have even met some who RV with three dogs!!
Before you start packing for your next RV trip, here are some RV pet safety tips you need to know!
1) What Is The Best RV For Your Pets?
There is no way to tell what the best RV is for RVing with dogs! What you can do is to consider your pets when you are buying your RV. When we purchased our first travel trailer, the dog could hardly get on the bed as it was raised to create storage space.
There was room for her to make a running jump, but there was little space for her to spread herself out. During the day she just could not relax. She was under everyone’s feet and she knew it so she would be jumpy trying to avoid getting stepped on.
It was super unfair to her. Thankfully it didn’t take us long to figure out that our first travel trailer was a bust and completely wrong for the whole family!.
We also knew that we didn’t take her needs into consideration. We’re not saying that you need to buy the RV just for your dog, but if you are going to be RVing with dogs, you should keep them in mind when making your purchase.
Within 1 week, we realized the travel trailer was too small for us and we upgraded to a 5th wheel.
The dog loved the new RV and so did we!
When you are getting ready to purchase an RV, make sure it fits everyone that will be traveling with you – dogs included!
What To Consider When Shopping To Keep Your RV Purchase Pet Friendly:
- Will the dog have their own space in the RV?
- Think dog bed, water dish, where will they lie down?
- If the dog sleeps on your bed, do they need help getting onto the bed? Some RV beds are quite high. Will you need to purchase additional pet friendly RV accessories like a bed ramp.
- How will your pet get out of and into the RV? By this we mean can your dog make it up the stairs?
- Is the RV insulated enough so that Fido will not be barking at every leaf that blows by?
- Will there be a space for dog supplies, toys, food?
- Does the RV have bunks that the lower could be renovated into a dog house?
Don’t worry- we’ll give you a list of RV dog essentials that we recommend you purchase when RVing with dogs.
2) Keep Their Information Up To Date
We have been traveling for over four years and honestly I don’t ever remember a time when we were asked for Gypsys information. We have also know many, many people rving with dogs and have very seldom heard of parks checking paperwork, but just to be safe…
I keep a folder of all her information such as her vaccination records, proof of ownership (you just never know). I keep it in a handy storage space so if I never need it, it’s within easy access.
Many RV parks do have breed restrictions, so it is always wise to check beforehand- especially if you have one of the more aggressive breeds.
For sure- have up to date ID Tags.
3) Keeping Your Dog Safe While Driving
I’ll be honest, Gypsy gets a little anxious on travel day. I don’t think she loves travel days, but she does love the fact that she is with everyone in the truck. She lays in the back seat between the kids, getting lots of pets from both sides – this also works to cut down on the “Are we there yet’s.”
She also loves standing with her front paws on the console so she can get closer to mom and dad! As we all know on RV travel days, this can be a bad thing. There were times when she was getting jostled around too much and times where she would try to climb into Franks lap.
This is not a good thing to happen when you are driving down a busy highway with your rig on the back! It became obvious to us we needed to find a pet harness that would keep her safe. This is the one that we found and loved, honestly I think she feels a little safer in the truck these days. I know I do!
If you have a Class A, B, or C, we highly suggest keeping your dog in a wire crate while the RV is moving. Keep them close by so your four legged friend still feels safe and loved. Having them wander around the RV or sitting on your lap is not in the best interest for you or your fur baby.
4) Leaving Your Pets in an RV
This is the most asked questions when people are considering RVing with dogs! “Can you leave the dog inside the RV?” . The answer is YES, however there are certain things you need to consider!
We try to take Gypsy with us as much as possible. After we all we started traveling so we could spend time together as a family and that includes the dog! However RVing with dogs has it’s own set of difficulties and there are times when we just can’t take her where we are going.
Many national parks and state parks for instance don’t allow dogs along. Neither do beaches, and certain hiking trails we know are going to be too long or difficult for her little legs.
If we are staying where the temperatures are high, we always leave the air conditioning on so she remains cool. Most RVers also keep a remote temperature sensor to ensure your dog stays cool. We leave some water and a little bit of food for her.
If we have close neighbors, we tend to leave a white noise machine or music on so she won’t bark the campground down. She is super friendly to people, but she’s a barker until she meets you.
We don’t want to be those people – you know the ones who let their dogs bark all day long. Not cool! Don’t do that people!
Before we leave, I get everyone out of the RV, invite Gypsy up to the master bedroom with a little treat, and close her in. That way she cannot see out the front door to bark at everything that moves. She is a fairly small dog, but her bark shakes the walls!
When you decide to start RVing with dogs, RV pet safety is essential. Don’t leave pets in a travel trailer without food, water or the proper temperature. Make sure they are safe before you depart the RV.
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5) Dog Friendly RV Campgrounds
For the most part RV campgrounds are very pet friendly but always check this before booking. We have come across RV parks that want to charge an extra fee for the dog!
I mean for what?!
Is she taking up extra space? No!
Is the campground going to walk her and pick up her poop? No!
So what exactly is it that we are paying extra for?
Absolutely nothing – so we have never stayed at one of those campgrounds, but we have stayed at lots of pet friendly RV campgrounds.
These types of campgrounds will usually have a fenced dog walking park where your four legged pup can meet some new friends. We have been to several parks where the staff carry around dog treats to pass out to doggies they encounter.
6) RV Travel With Dogs -Set Aside Some Doggy Time
We started this lifestyle with our kids so we are constantly exploring places and checking out attractions we haven’t been to before. That sometimes means long hours home alone for Gypsy.
When that happens, we will plan a day around the dog. This means looking for a park nearby to take her to or driving to the nearest dog beach. It really doesn’t matter whatever you do, what matters is that they are with you and feeling loved.
When you make a decision to go RV camping with dogs, it’s important to consider their needs too. Dogs need to be walked several times a day. So every few hours, we will take Gypsy for a nice long walk, sometimes whether she wants to or not!
I swear I can see the dog smiling when we take the time to do something special for her.
Our Top Tips When RVing With Dogs
Being full-time on the road for over 5 years, we learned a few things that should benefit those of you thinking about RVing with dogs!
- When you RV travel with dogs, always take food and water in the car with you. You never know what might happen and you’re stuck with a flat tire on the highway for over 3 hours (yes that has happened to us!). I always have food, water and doggie bags in the truck when RVing with our pets!
- We take Gypsy for a long walk the day before we leave so she is pretty tired on travel day. When we stop for bathroom breaks, we make sure she gets a turn too.
- When we arrive at a campground, I ask for recommendations for a local vet so if anything goes wrong, we know where to take her, and aren’t wasting time trying to find a place.
- Pretty much all RV parks will have leash laws for dogs. Just obey it already. And the rest of the pet policies as well!
- Always ask where the local dog parks are so that you can let your furry baby run free with other dogs for a while.
Dogs and RV Parks Are A Perfect Way To Make Friends!
One of the best ways to meet other campers at the RV park is through your dog. Every single campground we stay at, our kids know the names of every single dog! This usually happens on the first day – not kidding!
We stayed at an RV resort in Florida where we had an awesome grassy spot behind the RV where Gypsy ran around (more like sniffed around.) It was perfect for her and she was able to get out each day to meet lots of dog owners.
She’s not a huge fan of most dogs (we truly believe she doesn’t think she’s a dog), but she loves meeting new people.
Having gone through the important safety tips for RVing with your dog, let’s take a look at some RV dog essentials that you need to bring with you.
RVing With Dogs: Campground Etiquette You Need To Know
For the most part we have come across wonderful dog owners with sweet dogs that have become best friends with my kids! Seriously, if you have a dog and we have stayed in the same RV campground, you have met our kids!
However there are a few bits of RV campground etiquette you need to know about when you go RVing with dogs so you don’t become that person. You know who we are talking about!
- Do not leave your dog tied up outside while you head out for the day. There could be other animals (like coyotes) around which would not end well. Besides, your dog won’t like it and will end up barking his/her head off. You will come home to some very upset neighbors. Just don’t do it!
- Always pick up after your dog. There is nothing worse than walking through the doggie park to find you’ve just stepped in poo! We buy our doggie bags in bulk so we always have a roll with us. We purchased a poop dog dispenser which we attach to the leash so we never leave home without a doggie bag!
- Keep your dog on a leash at all times. Most campgrounds will have signs around telling you to please keep your dog leashed. This is important for two reasons – keeping your dog safe and keeping others safe. I can’t tell you how many times we have off leash dogs jump all over us. Thankfully we love dogs but not all others will feel the same.
Being a responsible dog owner and abiding by the rules will ensure you have a safe and wonderful camping trip with your four legged friend!
11 Dog RV Accessories You Need
When you decide to take the leap and go RVing with your dogs, it’s important that you have the right essentials.
This is our list of RV dog essentials that we recommend you have when you go camping with your dogs. If you know an RV owner with dogs, these make terrific gifts!
1) Collapsible Dog Food and Water Bowls
These bowls are the greatest invention EVER! Seriously we love these bowls. We bought this set from amazon and love it. It comes with 4 bowls as well as 4 carabiners so you can easily attach a food and water bowl when you head out for the day. Great for hikes, trips to the dog park, etc.
We have used our hands before but you end up losing half the water, plus the dog seems to drink more if its from her actual bowl. At least that’s what we found!
This is what I use for her food and water in the RV, I love that this set comes together and can be easily taken apart and stored away for travel day.
2) Dog Harness – Essential for Traveling With Dogs
We purchased this harness to keep Gypsy safe when we are driving in the truck. TIP: Make sure the harness you are looking to purchase will fit the dog you have.
This LED harness will keep both you and your dog safe at night when out taking a walk.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to ensure the dog is safe and protected when you traveling in any kind of vehicle. We highly recommend you consider buying a harness for your dog to keep them safe.
Depending where you are walking your dog at night, you might want to keep an LED harness in mind. This enables any drivers to see both you and your pup!
3) Play Toys for the Dogs – A Pet Travel Must-Have
Unfortunately Gypsy is more of a sniffer than a run around catching frisbees kind of dog, much to the dismay of the kids. We had a neighbor in Georgia who’s dog loved to play catch with a frisbee. It was a great way for both owner and dog to get some exercise. Hopefully your dog will enjoy playing catch with you.
Whatever your dog is into, make sure to have some of your dog’s favorite toys along with you.
Here are some recommendations your dog might enjoy.
4) RVing With Pets Bathing Essentials
When you are RVing with dogs, they still need to stay clean while on the road. You have two options here: You can take them to the local dog salon or wash them yourself!
Gypsy is not a fan of any dog salon because it takes her away from us. So we end up washing her at the campground. All you really need is a bucket to put her in, we picked up a large bucket at a dollar store and have been using it ever since. We use a regular hose or you can pick up a bathing tool like this one.
5) Grooming Kit For Your Dog
We tried to bring Gypsy to a dog groomer salon one time. After she attempted to climb onto Franks shoulders, we switched to a mobile dog groomer. Some RV parks will have a dog groomer come through, or you can ask any RV owner with a dog for a recommendation.
If you don’t want to go that route and would prefer to do it yourself, here is the exact grooming kit we use for our dog. We don’t do the most professional job, but hair grows back, right? We just call those first few days her “mange period.”
6) Doogie Bag Dispenser and Poopie Bags
7) Outdoor Dog Bed For Pet Travel
If your dog is anything like ours, they love being outdoors all the time and want to be wherever you are. This elevated dog bed is perfect for your furry friend and it keeps them out of the dirt!
8) Hiking Pack For Camping With Dogs
If you enjoy going on long hikes and your hope is to take your dog with you, you will need some kind of a backpack. This hiking pack fits nicely on your dog and allows you to bring supplies for water, treats and maybe some play toys to keep them occupied!
9) Outdoor RV Pet Enclosures
When you RV, much the same as at home, your dog is going to want to be wherever you are! If you’re outside, it’s pretty much a given, they will want to be outside too. These outside RV pet enclosures allow dogs to move around a bit but give you peace of mind, knowing they can’t run away!
10) RV Dog Essentials: A Dog Camera
This works similar to a baby monitoring camera and comes in very handy if you want to check on your fur babies while you are out! Again it ties in with the pet safety aspect of RVing with dogs. You want to make sure your dogs are safe at all times. If you are at all anxious leaving your dog in the RV, this dog camera will relieve your stress.
11) A DeShedding Brush Is An RV Dog Essential!
Thankfully our dog doesn’t shed. We didn’t know it when we adopted her but we lucked out in that department. We hear from so many RVers how their dogs hair gets all over the place. One of their best tips is to take the dog outside and give her a good brush at least once per day. This should reduce the amount of hair that ends up inside your RV. Most recommended this brush.
I would also recommend purchasing a handheld vacuum, so you can do a quick daily clean, this will really help with keeping the RV free of dog hair.
BONUS Dog RV Accessories
Again our dog is more of the I’m going to plop down here and take a 45 minute nap, yours might enjoy being more active. We have seen several RVers do this for their dogs and it’s brilliant.
You purchase this tie out cable for your dog and tie it between trees so the dog can walk around without getting tangled up. It’s genius, the dogs love it because they can wander around somewhat freely now, and you can relax knowing they are safely tied up.
We hope this articles helps you with figuring out how you would feel more comfortable with your dog on your next RV camping trip. Did we miss any dog RV accessories you recommend? Let us know by leaving a comment.
Grainne Foley grew up in Ireland and spent summers caravanning around Europe with her family. Now, as a wife and mother of 2, she spent 5 years traveling the USA as a full time RVing family. She is passionate about travel, and helping others who are considering the RV lifestyle. She has created dozens of helpful RVing checklists which are available throughout the website, and has curated hundreds of simple, flavorful meals for families on the go.