Can Dogs Ride in a Pull Behind Camper?

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Can dogs ride in a pull behind camper? It’s sometimes convenient, especially when you have more than one pooch. They can be a handful in the driver’s cab of your truck. Some campers can be less well-equipped than a travel trailer or Class A, B, or C motorhomes, which creates additional difficulties when wanting your dogs to stay in the camper while you drive to the next destination.

In this article, we will touch on RV pet safety concerns for both your dogs riding with you or when they’re in the camper alone. Also, at the end of this article, we cover whether dogs can ride in a truck camper or if dogs can ride in a fifth wheel?

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Can dogs ride in a pull behind camper? Campers are usually more flimsy compared to motorhomes. They’re less protected from potholes, etc. Subsequently, it’s a bumpy ride for dogs in a camper while driving. A truck’s cab is going to have more protective shock absorbers for a smoother ride. Also, there are predictable heating and cooling options inside the truck to avoid any dog getting into distress.

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To understand the reasons more clearly for where you should position your dog(s) when driving to a new destination, we approach it from several different angles. This way, you can weigh up the pros and cons for yourself to make a decision that’s right for you.

Dogs in Camper While Driving: Is It a Good Idea?

Can a dog ride in a camper?

Yes, absolutely.  

Is it a good idea though?

In most situations, probably not.

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Is it Legal to Ride with Your Dogs in the Camper?

While the laws relating to the transportation of pets vary from state to state, in the aggregate it’s considered legal to have your dogs either in the truck with you or in the pull-behind camper.

When knowing that you’ll be traveling through certain states, it’s useful to look-up the state’s website to confirm the laws relating to dogs and their transportation. Usually, household pets aren’t subject to the same restrictions as with livestock or exotic animals, but it’s best to verify this on a case-by-case basis.

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Health Regulations to Consider

There are various health regulations relating to pets. Some are ever-present whereas others trigger when going over state lines with your domesticated animals such as one or more dogs.

A pet rabies tag is often required. One or more health certifications may be needed too. This varies considerably between states and requires careful review.

Most dogs will be required to have recent medical tests for rabies. All their necessary paperwork from the vet should be brought along as well. It’s also useful to discuss the upcoming trip with your vet to confirm anything else that your dog(s) need in way of paperwork and/or medical treatment.

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Should Pets Be in Campers When They’re Moving?

Not every dog is happy to travel. They may get up and walk around inside the camper unaware that you’re about to take a hard-right turn which will put them off their feet. Other dogs might enjoy travel and are happy to sleep right through it.

Pet Safety 101

As indicated above, there’s a considerable risk of your dog(s) being bounced around inside a camper. Indeed, whether it’s a miniature or micro camper, a teardrop camper, or another type, they’re inherently lighter and flimsier compared to a motorhome.

As such, there’s a reduced shock-absorbing ability which causes more campers to bounce around to a greater degree than the truck that’s towing it. The latter benefits from durable tires and excellent suspension which lower-cost campers won’t have.

The result is that even when your dog(s) are placed safely in an RV dog crate within the camper, it’s going to be a volatile ride for them, especially if going a little off the grid.

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Controlling the Heat

Dogs are prone to getting heatstroke when they’re laying down in a non-shaded area, space is heating up steadily, and they have no effective way to cool themselves. It’s a particular vulnerability with K9s where their owners need to take care of them because they cannot do it themselves.

With campers, there’s really only basic clip-on fans [affiliate link] or a roof fan that can provide some cooling ability for them. Given the basic insulation that’s installed in many campers – some have little to none – it’s more challenging to consistently keep the camper cool. This is doubly so when it’s being towed.

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Also, should any systems breakdown while driving, most pet owners will not know about it until they pull off and check on their dog(s). Having the Nimble pet temperature sensor [affiliate link] can alert you to surrounding heat levels. But should a fan fail, it may be difficult to find a safe place to stop and attend to the problem before your animals overheat.

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Managing the Cold

The exterior temperature levels may vary from state to state. When driving across state lines and covering a considerable distance, it’s possible to go through varying climates including colder ones.

Given the reduced or complete lack of insulation within many campers, most owners typically avoid using them in the winter. However, it’s possible to get caught out when going through a colder state in the Fall. This could leave your dog(s) unprotected in the camper and lead to unexpected difficulties.

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Should You Have Your Dogs in the Truck or the Camper?

It’s useful to accurately assess the type of camper that you own, the level of insulation, and how it gets affected by the outside climate.

Figuring Out What’s Right

Possibly taking some temperature readings to compare the external and internal temperatures in different climates will confirm what the experience will be like for your dog(s). Knowing the maximum and minimum heat levels for the states that you’ll be passing through is also useful information too.

Once you know the facts, it’s easier to make the right decision for your pets.

Keeping Dogs Safe from Themselves

Regardless of whether your dog(s) are going into the camper or up in the front cab of the truck, they need to be secured for their safety and yours.

Camper Planning

In the camper, they should be placed in an RV dog crate [affiliate link] that’s securely fitted to not move around while underway. The attached fans near the crate can help to keep them cool on hotter days. Providing a water source so they can stay hydrated and try to regulate their body temperature is also a good idea too.

Truck Planning

Dog(s) going into the truck’s cab as a passenger needs to be wearing a dog harness or an RV seat belt that’s designed for pets. Both of these can attach to existing restraint safety systems. In trucks that have a larger rear passenger area, it’s possible to install a protective grate to further prevent their forward movement while driving.

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Is it OK to Take Dogs on Long Drives?

Can my dog ride in the travel trailer

Some dogs take to being in a vehicle and driven from place to place. Others will never get used to it but can tolerate it up to a point. It’s important as the pet owner to understand the individual temperaments of your dog to know how they feel about long trips.

It makes sense to adjust your planned stops to break up longer journeys into manageable chunks. Some dogs will need to run around and play before they’ll be happy to climb back in to resume the journey.

If your dog is new to travel, then it’s useful to know that they will improve their handling and acceptance of going on a trip. However, the extent of their improvement is an individual thing for each dog.

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Can Dogs Ride in a Truck Camper?

Another type of camper is a truck camper. These are camper shells that are bolted onto the top of an open bed truck to provide accommodation. They may be hard or soft-shelled with a variety of internal fixtures and fittings.

Truck camping with dogs involves their riding in the camper bed of a truck camper and not upfront in the cab with you. It’s difficult on several levels. Certainly, there’s not much space to install an RV dog crate or other storage solution to keep your dog(s) safe when in transit. Adapting existing furniture to allow for slotting in an RV crate is less likely too.

Also, a larger concern is keeping your dog(s) from overheating in the sun or becoming too cold when journeying in the cooler months. There are a few good options that will help to regulate their body temperature. A small clip-on fan attached near their crate will work but should the truck camper’s shell be exposed for too long, outside temperatures for a poorly insulated shell will overwhelm minimal cooling.

On the flip side, small heaters without the use of the generator while on the road will do little to mitigate colder temperatures too.

Ultimately, with a truck camper, it’s best to have your dog in the front cab in a secured dog harness that prevents them from moving around too much. If a separating internal gratebetween the rear part of the driver’s cab is used, this avoids the risk of them trying to move into the front seats too.

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Can Dogs Ride in a Fifth Wheel?

Another type of pull behind RV is a fifth wheel.

Whether dogs riding in a fifth wheel is acceptable is a useful question to close out this article.

Many of the same issues related to dogs in campers are true of dogs in a fifth wheel when traveling on the road. Similar risks are present including random movement, and heat and/or cold temperature problems for your pet.

One of the notable benefits a fifth wheel though – not unlike a travel trailer – is that there is plenty of space to make a dog more comfortable.

For instance, it’s possible to turn the space under the dinette’s seating into a dog crate with its doorway facing out towards the walkway area. A redesign of a 5th Wheel in this manner saves using up vital floor space to install a dog crate elsewhere.

Also, from an RV pet safety standpoint, the larger interior space of a fifth wheel encourages your dog to get up and roam around more. That’s not a good thing. Therefore, a dog crate or dog carrier must be used to prevent your dog from roaming and sliding around on the floor from the sudden movement while in transit.

Furthermore, a fifth wheel has facilities to keep your dog(s) at a regulated temperature without as many risks as with a truck camper or pull-behind camper. This is advantageous. While he or she may not be a fan of their smaller crate accommodations – necessitating more frequent stops to let them out – it’s still better for their safety.  

The bottom line is that you and your dog(s) are better safe than sorry.

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