RV Camping with Dogs

Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

When you’re keen on doing a bit of RV camping with dogs, don’t delay. Any kind of traveling is fun and it’s great to have a dog (or two) along for the ride. Most pooches love discovering new places, sniffing out the area, and exploring. If there’s a lake they can enthusiastically jump into or some birds to chase after, they’re totally loving it!

Traveling in your RV, camper, trailer, or campervan with your pets isn’t something to be taken lightly though. They need caring for and special precautions at times to keep them safe. Unfamiliar territory and different terrain can create surprises, especially for middle-aged or senior dogs.

Read Also: Can Animals Ride in a Towed Vehicle?

There are plenty of RV hacks for dogs that work great! Whether you’re going RV camping with dogs at established campgrounds or getting off the beaten path, it will be an adventure. Use pre-planning for the trip because dogs require proper care on the journey (and when out exploring too).

Here are our 14 RV hacks for dogs to make both your lives simpler and more enjoyable.

1.      Plan Your Route More Carefully

Dogs can learn to travel well when riding in an RV, motorhome, or a tow truck with the camper or trailer behind. If you own a campervan, they’ll adjust to this too. However, they do have K9 needs.

The first of these is that they tire more quickly with all the jostling around when riding for too long. And they’ll let you know it too. Quickly the signs will be obvious as a “pet parent” when your bundle of fur has had enough for the day.

Bear in mind that the rougher the terrain, the harder it will be on their bodies. Whether they’re lying down on the sofa or tucked away in a dog crate, they’ll need regular timeouts and to end the travel day earlier.

Plan a route that allows for more than one RV park or boondocking spot. This way, if they are clearly showing signs that they’re getting tired, it’s possible to cut the day short by redirecting to the nearer RV park or overnight parking spot.

2.      Schedule Potty Breaks

Your dog doesn’t have the advantage of a litter box like felines do. He or she will need to go potty outside several times throughout the day. Don’t expect them to hold it forever.

Also, consider that all that bouncing around on country roads won’t help their bladder much either. This is even truer for senior dogs who may already need to go more frequently than they did when younger.

Schedule regular breaks to avoid driving long stretches. Give your dog(s) a chance to find a place to relieve themselves and as a responsible owner, clean up after them. Stretch out and walk around a bit too – it will get the blood flowing and avoid the muscles from seizing up. That’s even truer if you’re over 70.

Read Also: Why are RV Parks So Expensive?

3.      Dog Harness or Seat Belt

When not wearing a seat belt or a dog harness [affiliate link] that’s secured, your dog is vulnerable to an accident.

PetSafe Happy Ride Deluxe Car Harness for Dogs – Adjustable in Different Sizes (Includes Seat Belt Tether)

Check Price on Amazon

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

If you’re not thinking this is a potential problem, picture a sudden deceleration or crash impact where your pet is thrown forward at high speed. When they’re wandering around behind you, that could mean a large heavy body flying into the air. They could impact your back, hit the back of your head, or go through the windscreen with a high-speed impact.

Because of these risks, it’s a good idea to take RV pet safety seriously. Get a dog harness for them. Many of these can be secured to a seat belt system in an RV too. Alternatively, some products allow them to be linked to an existing RV seat belt. Either option is far safer than letting them lay down in the front passenger seat or use a doggie bed in the living quarters.


Alternatively, a built-in RV dog crate [affiliate link] is a safe place for your dog while traveling to avoid them moving around unexpectedly.

Life Stages LS-1636 Single Door Folding Crate for Intermediate Dogs(Up to 70lbs)

Check Price on Amazon

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Read Also: Best RV Camping Hacks

4.      Dog Fence for RV Camping

When motionless, it’s not possible to always know where your dog is located. This is especially true if you own more than one or if they’re quite small like a toy or pocket-size dog.

If you like to leave the RV door or camper door open to vent the heat, then they may be tempted to go outside without you knowing it. Then it can be difficult to call them back. Also, people often will come to say hello if they see a friendly-looking dog. However, your pet is in a strange location, possibly overly tired, and seeing a person they do not know. Because of this, they may act defensively due to fear of the unknown.

To avoid your dog wandering off and the risk of strangers scaring them in their home (the RV is their home too), think about getting an RV dog fence [affiliate link]. A portable dog fence creates an artificial barrier that prevents them from escaping or from actively defending the home from a stranger at the door.

Wood Dog Gate Adjustable Indoor Solid Construction Pet Fence

Check Price on Amazon

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

The last thing you need is someone getting a dog bite and their lawyer getting in touch with you! Use an RV pet fence to prevent them from jumping up. And if you wish to contain them while you’re both outside the RV, consider a portable dog fence for camping.

Read Also: Will RV Antifreeze Thaw Frozen Pipes?

5.      Use Pet Sitters When Necessary If Traveling Solo

When it’s just you and your best friend, then he or she will always need you. However, if you have a sudden emergency, then it may be necessary to go somewhere that doesn’t allow pets to come along.

What do you do?

Use a nationwide pet sitting service to take care of your pouch while you’re busy running errands or having some urgent dental treatment completed.

There are several national pet sitting services and apps available too. Sign up to one or more before traveling, so you’re authorized and ready to use them in case of emergency. PetSitter.com is a popular one. Rover.com is another option. Maybe you can book a dog walker for an hour or more while running errands?

6.      Don’t Forget to Think About the Heat

Dogs aren’t great at cooling their bodies down. If they’re in a hot, stuffy interior, they can overheat quite easily.

See if you can set up an RV clip-on fan [affiliate link] pointed at where they’re situated during travel. Alternatively, when pulling off for a potty break, spray them down with a water bottle to help cool them off. They may or may not approve – but it will help to reduce their overall body temperature on hotter days.

Open the overhead rooftop fan [affiliate link] if you have one installed. Or run the AC on especially hot days.

Maxxair Vent Corp 00-04000K Maxxfan Plus Vent 14″ 12V (White)

Check Price on Amazon

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Also, ensure they have access to enough water to keep them hydrated too.

7.      Avoid Boredom!

Dogs get bored when they have little to do and aren’t getting attention from their doggie parents. While they probably will get used to the road and sleep part of the journey, they’ll get bored soon enough. Then they’ll want to break free and be naughty.

Leave them with a chew toy [affiliate link] to play around with. A rawhide bone [affiliate link] might also be a good idea. It’s either those or the furniture in your RV or campervan is going to need a repair job after a trip.

Read Also: How Long Do Camper Tires Last?

8.      Stick to Familiar Routines

Whether you’re traveling or camping with your travel trailer or camper unhooked from the tow truck, keep the dog-related routines the same. Canines prefer routines and rely on them. Disturbing established routines is likely to worry them and make them get nervous.

Do your best to set mealtimes at roughly the same time each day. When traveling, plan a stop to coincide with their time to eat, so you can take care of them. It’s also a good time to grab a bite to eat yourself too. If you’re camped, stick to the same mealtimes that they’re used to (even if yours are more varied).

9.      Outdoor Fencing when RV Camping with Dogs

If you don’t want your dog wandering off and keeping them on an RV dog leash causes them to repeatedly get tangled up, then consider RV pet enclosures [affiliate link] or a foldable portable pet tent [affiliate link]. 

Ruff ‘n Ruffus Portable Foldable Pet Playpen – 3 Sizes (Free Carrying Case and Bowl)

Check Price on Amazon

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

These products provide an airy space outdoors where they can look around and keep their mind active. It avoids them being stuck inside the RV or worrying about them wandering off.

The size of the outdoor pet tent or pet enclosure and how sturdy it needs to be will depend on the size of your dog.

Read Also: RV Driving Tips

10.  Are Wild Animals in the Area?

Do some research to determine whether wild dogs, coyotes, wolves, or other animals are a concern in the area. Eagles and other large birds that swoop down, grab dogs or cats, and fly back into the area are a risk too (mostly a concern for smaller dog breeds).

In areas with wild animals, they may get under the RV or camper at night. Your dog will alert you to their presence before anything is usually heard.

If there are some worries in the parked-up area, then only let your dog go out on a leash for a potty break. Go with them when they do. Bring along a flashlight [affiliate link] to keep them safe.

11.  Create a Reinforced Internal Walkway

When stuck inside the RV, camper, or trailer for a while, your dog will get restless. They want to be outside, running around, blowing off steam, and use up their energy. The younger and livelier the breed is – think Spaniel over Jack Russell – the greater their need to run around.

You’ll see this most obviously in the RV’s walkway area where they pace up and down. The more that they’re cooped up, the greater wear that the flooring or rug will get in that spot.  

Add some reinforced flooring that will hold up to their activity level inside the RV. It’ll soon become clear where they walk around the most. Also, keep flooring replacements stored away to swap it out when it’s worn down.  

Read Also: Regular Toilet in RV?

12.  Non-Slip Bowls or Elevate the Food/Water Bowls

Having food and water bowls on the floor is a regular tripping hazard for us humans and they can slide around when driving too. That’s unless you invest in a Road Refresher No Spill Dog Water Bowl (affiliate link).

Road Refresher No Spill Dog Water Bowl for Home and Travel

Check Price on Amazon

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Create an elevated ledge on one wall where the food and water supplies can be situated. When this is a fixed location, they won’t slide around either during travel. It stops your dog chasing the food bowl around the floor too!

13.  Carry Pet Information

Ensure that you don’t travel out of state and away from your regular vet without carrying relevant pet information.

This includes:

  • Pet medical records from the vet
  • Details about any medication that they’re currently on
  • Ensuring they’re still wearing their pet ID tag
  • Do they have a microchip installed yet?

Having the information to hand means that should your dog have an upset tummy or something else bothering them, the necessary information will be available.

Read Also: RV Dump Station Cost

14.  Prepare Them Well & Provide Continual Reassurance

If they haven’t traveled much before, spend several weeks getting them used to be inside the RV, campervan, or camper/trailer. Sleep in it while in your driveway and give them a dog bed to sleep in just like at home. By doing this, once you’re ready to get on the road, it will seem like a second home to them already.

Your dog may love traveling or take time to adjust to it. Provide reassurance that everything will be okay. They get anxious and stressed out by life too!

Play with them. Give them extra attention. Reward them for doing the right things. In time, RV camping with dogs will feel comfortable for both you and your best buddy.

With RV camping for dogs, there’s always doggie companionship around, so you’ll never get bored. Throw in the use of some RV hacks for dogs too. It will mix things up and make life easier too.

Related Articles

Can My Dog Ride in the Travel Trailer?

Can Dogs Ride in a Pull Behind Camper?

Can Animals Ride in a Towed Vehicle?