Packing up the whole family for a weekend of RV camping sounds like so much fun! It’s a chance for all to unplug, appreciate the beauty and serenity of Mother Nature, and enjoy the great outdoors for a change.

For a lot of households, dogs are also part of the family. As camping is a family activity, you’d likely want your furry friend to tag along with you on your weekend adventure.

And in the same manner that you might have special considerations for going out on a camping excursion with the kids, with teenagers, or with seniors, bringing your canine companion with you on your trip will require quite a bit of additional care and preparation.

General Travel Tips With Your Dogs

Whether or not you’re going out RV camping, here are a few things you need to cover when you’re out and about with your furry friend. 

  • Plan ahead of your trip. You’ll want to take particular note of pet-friendly destinations along the way– restaurants, dog parks, even public spaces like National Parks have their own rules with regards to canine companions.

    Note that it’s not enough to check if an establishment allows dogs, as many might have additional restrictions on breed and weight. Give these places a call beforehand to confirm the rules and regulations on pets before you make a booking or reservation.
  • Tags. Make sure your furry friends have proper tags on their collars. We’re not just talking about regular dog tags here, but smart tags like those available from PetHub— digital tags that link to an updated online profile for your pet, which also includes vet information among other things.
  • If you haven’t yet, microchip your dog. In case they stray too far away and can’t find their way back to you, you at least have some insurance as far as locating them and bringing them back home is concerned.
  • Vet Info. It’s always a good practice to have your dog’s vet info handy (at least on board the RV or vehicle if you can’t carry it with you all the time), in the event of a pet emergency. This should contain records on vaccinations, immunizations, and any medication they need, including flea, tick, and heartworm prevention.
  • Pack a first aid kit. Another proactive tip is to always pack a first aid kit for your dog in your vehicle. You’ll never know when your dog accidentally wolfs down a piece of unattended chocolate or injures themselves while running around the countryside. If you do plan to put one together, make sure the first aid kit includes:
    • Gauze
    • Vet Wrap
    • Cotton Swabs
    • Non-stick Pads
    • Medical Tape
    • Gloves
    • Benadryl
    • Eye Dropper or Oral Syringe
    • Styptic Powder
    • Hydrogen Peroxide
    • Antibiotic Ointment
    • Tweezers
    • Heat and Cold Packs

Of course, you can put a first-aid kit together yourself, or you could purchase a ready emergency kit similar to this 46-piece first aid kit from Alcott or this dog first aid kit from PetSaver.

What do you need on a long drive with your dog?

Many families who don’t own an RV now have the option of having one for the weekend, thanks to companies like Adventure in Camping, which provides that awesome service of delivering a specially-prepared camper at your choice of a selection of fine camping grounds in the great state of California.

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Driving up to your campgrounds may still entail quite a bit of road travel, however. So, keeping your dogs safe, happy, and relatively stress-free during your road trip is of prime importance. You might be familiar with some of these tips already, but here they are nevertheless:

  1. Safety first! If your pups are properly crate- or carrier-trained, it might be best to stow them inside during your long drive. This way, they’re safer– meaning they’re not as prone to injury when you run into road bumps, potholes, or make sudden turns. This way they also get protection from getting hit or squished by bags or gear suddenly shifting around in transit.
  2. Use special seat belts for dogs as needed. For pets who don’t respond well to being in a crate, invest instead in a sturdy dog harness seat belt to keep them safe and secure.
  3. Prepare cleaning tools. It’s going to get dirty. For fur-parents like us, this is the way things are. It’s a fact of life that our dogs will shed, slobber, or otherwise mess up an otherwise clean and pristine vehicle interior. Instead of getting mad at them for being messy, be as prepared as you can: use additional layers of cover for your seats’ protection, have additional floor mats, and a small caddie with cleaning items like grooming wipes or dog towels close at hand.

    Hopefully, you’ve also packed a lint roller, a good car vacuum, a short hose (in case your dogs have rolled around in mud or poop), as well as some quick-dry towels to wipe your dogs dry when they get wet.
  4. Keep drinking water close by. On particularly hot days, make sure your dog gets proper hydration. Not only should you make sure that you have enough water for all (including your pets), you must also have a ready supply of water close by for a quick drink.

    Consider some of the following recommended gear: the clever little portable water bottle for dogs by Guardian Gear Handi-Drink, the double bowl collapsible travel feeder from Dexas Popware, or the ever-reliable Coleman 1-Gallon Jug.
  5. Bring treats. In the same manner that you always have some water handy, you’d also want to have your pup’s favorite treats on-hand. Luna and Foxey (with fur-parents Mandy and Kevin) share this tip:

    We also always have treats on-hand. Our pups are constantly put into situations “suburban” dogs may not get exposed to. If something strange happens, we have treats ready to get their attention. For example, our neighbors were being really rowdy one afternoon, and Luna was woken up from her nap to loud shouts and music. We were ready with a couple (of) treats, and she didn’t bark or get worked up.
  6. Let them stretch out from time to time. We all can feel a little cooped up in a small space after a while– dogs included. In particular, you’d want your furry companion to avoid getting overly restless or bored as you know that this can lead to naughty behavior.

    So every couple of hours or so, take a stop so you and your pets can get out of the vehicle for a short walk and a breath of fresh air. It would help to have some chew toys on hand as well to help them work out all that pent-up energy.
  7. Pack sturdy toys. You will want to bring along some of your furry friends’ toys on your long excursion– playthings sturdy enough to last the trip. A few choice toys can keep your dogs sufficiently occupied and allows for a bit of mental stimulation. Kristen can tell you just how important toys are for her buddy, Charlie:

    Charlie destroys his toys pretty quickly. He loves ripping them apart and spreading the stuffing all over everything, leaving a mess for us to clean up. When we road trip, we try to bring toys that are more durable, so they don’t fall apart one day into our trip.
  8. Know where the vets and hospitals are nearby. Hopefully, you don’t have to scramble to get to a veterinarian or a suitable animal hospital. But in the event that something does happen to your little four-legged buddy, at least you know where to go right away.

How Can I Make My RV More Pet-Friendly?

Your recreational vehicle is going to be your home for a few days, so you might as well get yourselves comfortable. In fact, a lot of happy campers love life out in the great outdoors so much that the RV has become their home!

Here are a few simple tips to make your RV a bit more pet-friendly during your camping excursion.

    • Safety first! Right off the bat, get in there and remove any potential hazards to your pups. Stowaway any dangerous items they might take an interest in, secure bins and containers that can fall or tip over, and prepare a safe space for your canine buddies.

      After this, survey your immediate campground surroundings. Make an effort to know the local flora and fauna where you’re staying so you know which ones to stay away from.
    • Allow your dogs to settle in. Speaking of finding a safe place for your puppers, Remy and Sienna (with fur-parents Jon and Nadia) does this with their dogs and have become a central part of their lives roaming around.
    • Familiarity brings comfort. RVing with dogs isn’t too different from living in a house with them. Luna, Archie, Maxwell, Brendan, and Sam made enough room to bring them along.

    • Campgrounds with hookups. One of your biggest issues when RV’ing with your animal companions is temperature. There are many portable air-conditioning units available in the market out right now, but probably the best way to deal with this is to choose a pet-friendly campground with an electrical hookup so you can keep the AC running.
    • Leaving your dog alone in the RV. For short periods of time, it should be OK to leave your pups inside the RV (you can’t bring them everywhere after all). If you must, make sure your furry friend is comfortable enough inside. Especially in the summer, you’ll want to make sure the inside of your vehicle is cool and adequately ventilated.
    • Consider monitoring gear. There are lots of great pet cams out in the market right now, but Mike and Susan of RV Blogger highly recommend having this fancy camera that also allows you to chuck out your doggo’s favorite treats from time to time.

      The absolute best pet-friendly product I have ever seen for remotely keeping an eye on your pet and feeding them treats is the Lovoom Pet Monitoring Camera for dogs and cats. While you are away from your RV you can see, hear and talk to your pet. And you can remotely toss them a kibble treat! It’s all done remotely through your cell phone! My daughter has one that she uses to keep an eye on her dog while she’s at work all day. And, I think having one in your RV is a great way to interact with your pet while you are away. 

What Are (Some of) The Local Laws Governing Dogs When We’re Out Camping? 

For responsible dog owners, rules and guidelines are mostly for common courtesy, for being considerate, and probably most importantly for safety– not just for our canine companions, but for ourselves, other people, and for the environment as well. 

Wherever we go as dog-parents, we should always:

  • Keep our dogs on a leash in public places
  • Pick up after our dogs and properly dispose of their waste in trash bins
  • Carry extra doggie waste bags just in case 
  • Make sure our pups aren’t left unattended in the RV for an extended period of time
  • Make sure we don’t leave our furry friends tied up unattended outside
  • Keep our doggies under control and quiet– don’t let them bark at people walking by your RV all-day
  • Respect others who may not love your dog as much as you do by keeping them on a leash at all times

Depending on where you’re heading out, local laws, rules, and guidelines governing your pets may vary. Do your research so you know about these beforehand and so you can make sure you and your dogs abide by these rules during your visit.

Check the rules of the campgrounds, as well as the other places you might be visiting in your camping itinerary, such as the dog parks, national parks, or even the towns you might decide to stop by on the way for supplies.

In the town of Mammoth Lakes, CA, for example, you might find yourself walking to town to rent some gear, grab a bite to eat or attend some of the local events and activities. The municipal code governing dogs says:

6.12.210 – Dogs at large.

It is unlawful for any person owning, harboring, or having the care, custody or possession of any dog within the town limits of Mammoth Lakes to allow such dog to run at large. All such dogs shall be kept securely fastened by a chain, rope or leash unless securely confined within private property legally controlled by the person in possession of the dog. Further, any dog off the premises of its owner, or the person charged with the care, custody or possession of the dog, shall be presumed to be at large unless it is securely fastened to a rope, chain or leash not exceeding six feet in length and is under the immediate physical control of a competent person. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any dog while being trained in an obedience class or being exhibited at a dog show or obedience trial or being trained for or used for bona fide hunting purposes, or that is engaged in the herding, grazing or control of livestock; provided, however, that such dog is under the immediate vocal control of a competent person while so engaged. 

(Ord. 88-04 § 1(part), 1988: prior code § 9.36.060) 

This means you will be needing a sturdy 6-foot leash when your animal companion accompanies you to town. According to the Mammoth Lakes, there are specified areas where  your dogs can be off their leashes (as long as they’re within your vocal control):

Pets are allowed on all U.S. National Forests but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6ft at all times while in developed recreation areas and on interpretive trails. Most other areas within the National Forest do not require dogs to be on leash but they must remain under voice control at all times. According to the Mammoth Lakes Visitors Center developed recreation areas include parking lots and bathrooms.  Dogs must remain on leash in the Lakes Basin but once you get on a trail head beyond the parking lots and bathrooms you are welcome to take your dog off leash as long as it remains under voice control. Please see the Mammoth Lakes Visitor Center for more info. 

Trails in the Inyo National Forest (beyond parking lot and bathrooms)

Trails behind Shady Rest Park (1/2 mile past paved parking lot)

Trails beyond the Town Limits on the Scenic Loop

1/2 mile beyond the propane tanks on Sherwin Creek Road

 As far as campground rules go, you’ll most likely be staying at a pet-friendly RV park. However, most of these parks still have strict guidelines in place for everyone’s safety. Before you make a reservation, check to see what the campground rules are regarding pets.

Some More Recommended Pet Gear For Your RV Camping Trip

We live in a time when there are so many great products out in the market to help make your RV camping trip so much easier and a lot more fun. You’ll also find just as many clever, creative, and useful items made just for your canine companions.

Amazon is certainly a great place to browse through if you’re looking for pet gear for your next weekend excursion, but take note that there are so many great online shops that you may visit as well, such as REI and Camping World, among others.

1. Pet Cameras

You’ll be amazed at the variety of pet cameras available today. Sort of like baby monitors, but for pets, some of these cameras even have night vision capabilities and can record audio and video. Look for a camera that can connect through an app on your phone so you can keep an eye on your pup when you’re away from the RV.

Have a look at Camping World’s Pan & Tilt Wifi Security Camera.

2. Dog Bed and Blanket

Jessica the Dachsund Lady recommends having a dog bed and blanket as it can get cramped inside your sleeping bag (even with just a small doggie). “It acts as kind of a “sleeping bag extension” and the dogs don’t know they aren’t in my actual sleeping bag”, she says. 

Recommended by Jessica is the Ruffwear Highlands Dog Bed with a Rumpl Outdoor Baby Blanket combo. You can even combine the two and have a dog sleeping bag like the Hurtta Outback Dreamer or Ruffwear Highlands Sleeping Bag.

3. Dog Lamps or Dog Lights

Sometimes, campgrounds can get pretty dark at night. And in the event that your furry little buddy happens to wander off, it can be difficult to see them. Hence, a rechargeable dog lamp that can be worn from the collar. The light is bright enough to stand out in a poorly-lit environment.

Have a look at the Ruffwear Beacon Rechargeable Dog Safety Light or the Nite Ize SpotLit LED Carabiner Light from REI.

4. Automatic Generator Start Controller

Says Mike and Susan of RVBlogger.com:

One of the biggest fears for pet owners while away from their RV is that the power will go out and the AC will stop running. This can certainly be a life-threatening situation. The best way to handle this situation is to install an Automatic Generator Start Controller.

The way this works is that if the shore power goes out your AC will turn off because the AC can’t run on battery power. If this happens the generator controller will automatically start the generator and your AC will come back on. For just a couple hundred dollars it can literally save your pet’s life.

5. Dog Pen

For smaller canine companions, consider letting them off their leash from time to time (when it’s permitted) and instead allow them a bit of space in their very own dog pen.

Check out the Collapsible Pet Playpen or Wire Pet Fence from Camping World.

Questions and Answers

What’s The One Best Tip You Can Give Me When RV Camping With My Dog?

Luna and Foxey (with fur-parents Mandy and Kevin) have this to share:

Our biggest advice about RVing with dogs is to train your dog and make sure they respect you as the alpha. While we aren’t perfect (and our dogs aren’t either), knowing our dogs will listen is key. While boondocking, we feel comfortable letting Luna and Foxey run free to experience the countryside the way a dog should.

How Do I Keep My Pups From Going Stir-Crazy?

Understandably, anyone can get a little cabin fever after spending an extended period of time in a confined space. For Pete and Jordan, and Russ the Ruffian, the best thing you can do is to make exercise a priority.

We always make it a priority to run him…we always find dog parks near where we camp, and we’ve found some of the most amazing spots all over the country. It’s been a great way to meet people in new areas! Never once has he gotten crazy living in a small space, and we really think it’s because he gets to spend so much time outdoors.

On the few occasions that we’ve had a night or two away from the RV, we’ve used Rover to find local dog sitters. It’s been a great way to know Russ is taken care of and having a great time.

Can I Leave My Pet Outside While I am Away From the RV?

Mike Scarpignato of RV Blogger advises:

Most campgrounds will not allow you to keep your pet outside while you are away from your RV. In addition, you are potentially putting your pet in danger by leaving it outside even if it is in a crate, pen, or on a tether of some kind. First of all, someone could steal or harm your pet. Second, your pet may be encountered by another animal and unable to escape. And finally, your pet will be subjected to the weather if left outside. So, I would highly discourage leaving your pet outside your RV while you are away.

Is It Safe To Leave My Pet Inside My RV at a Campground?

It’s not the ideal choice, but it’s much better than leaving them unattended outside. If you must leave your pups in the RV while you are away, Pepper and Kyla (with fur-parents Dan and Lindsay) have this bit of advice to offer: 

We keep the RV at a safe and comfortable temperature and leave a “Dogs on Board” sign on our door with our phone numbers. We also hide a key to the RV somewhere in case something happens to us while we’re out.  You can even purchase dog monitors with cameras to keep an eye on them while you’re away.

As long as you keep your dog comfortable, well-exercised, and safe, they’ll love life on the road!

How Can I Best Comfort My Pet With Separation Anxiety?

Some dogs feel particularly restless and upset when you’re gone even for a short period of time. If this is the case, Mike and Susan of RVBlogger.com recommend crating your little doggie while you’re away.

Sometimes crating your pet with a familiar blanket or bed from home will make them feel more safe and secure. You can also close the shades and leave a radio on to create a tranquil environment. Most dogs that have separation anxiety bark or howl while you are away from the RV so it’s important to make them as comfortable as possible in familiar surroundings.

A Final Word About RV Camping With Your Dogs

Enjoying the great outdoors with the entire family– with your little animal companions included– can be the highlight of a great holiday weekend, and can be the source of so many happy and precious memories for years to come.

For our furry four-legged friends, we need to make a few extra plans and preparations for a more stress-free RV camping adventure. You will want to make the outdoor experience fun for your little doggos so they will want to go camping with you over and over again.

Take note that, just like any other establishment, different campgrounds might have different rules and guidelines governing visiting pet-families. Do take the time to call up your campground of choice, as well as other establishments in your itinerary to make sure that you and your pets are welcome and have options to enjoy the facilities and amenities they have to offer.

A lot of experienced RV campers have shared their best pieces of advice when it comes to camping with your dogs. If there’s one thing in common, it’s that keeping your pups well-exercised, happy, and stress-free all make for a great vacation for everyone in the family.

Lastly, it goes without saying that as responsible fur-parents, always practice proper pet etiquette. Respect others by keeping your canine companion on a leash in more public places, and allow them a bit of freedom in specially designated areas of the campground.

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