How to Live in an RV with Dogs: The Complete Guide


2 dogs climbing on their owner inside an RV

Everyone knows that dogs make great travel companions! But if you are considering living in your RV long-term or permanently, you probably have concerns and questions. So let’s look at how to live in an RV with dogs.

Here’s everything I know from head to tail:

Most dogs love RV travel and spending extra time with their owners. Bring a crate, their bed, chew toys, and other familiar items from home. When driving, plan to stop every few hours to let them potty and burn off energy.

But that’s just a few of the most obvious tips.

It’s important to be a good neighbor and handle any barking and mess swiftly and responsibly. But that’s not all there is to know about living on the road with dogs!

We’ll cover everything you need to know about living on the road with dogs in this in-depth guide.

Just keep reading!

How do you travel with a dog in an RV?

To travel in an RV with a dog, get them acclimated to the RV before embarking. Bring bedding, toys, and other familiar items. Bring a crate for anxious dogs who may not respond well if you leave to run errands. Bring vet records if you intend to go to Canada or Mexico.

A happy dog makes for easy traveling. But he also needs to be safe and healthy. Preparing ahead of time for RV living will make the transition much easier.

First and foremost, teach your dog basic commands.

Sit, stay, and how to properly walk on a leash are simple commands that can keep you and your dog safe. Your dog should be leashed anytime you’re stopped. But in the event that they get off-leash, or if you drop the leash for some reason, they should be trained to return to you.

As I mentioned, get your dog acclimated to the RV.

Start by hanging out in it while it’s parked, just to get them used to it. Then, take short trips to nearby campgrounds to see how they’ll do. Make sure to give your pup lots of praise so that they know that RVing is a fun activity!

Make sure vaccinations are up-to-date.

You may want to take your dog to the vet for a health assessment before you hit the road. Stock up on any medications and get a copy of your dog’s health records. If you need to see a vet while you’re on the road, you’ll want to have any health records handy.

If you’re planning on traveling to Canada, you may need to have your vet complete a health certificate. If they are USDA Accredited, they can fill it out online. If your dog is older than 8 months, they only need proof of rabies vaccination. (source)

Of course, you also need to get ID tags and have your dogs microchipped, and be prepared for emergencies.

When considering an area to camp, check out the site for chain veterinary clinics like Banfield Pet Hospital. Chain clinics can share vet records electronically between offices.

That way, even if you don’t have your dog’s health records on hand, they will have accurate records for your dog.

Can you leave your dog unattended in an RV at a campground?

You can leave your dog in the RV at a campground, but make sure the heat or air is on when temperatures get too hot or too cold.

Also, be a good neighbor and handle any complaints about barking in a reasonable manner.

Leaving your dog in your RV is just like leaving him at home, with a few extra things to keep in mind. It’s important to make sure your pets are safe in your RV, especially when leaving them alone.

If you want to do some exploring or plan on being away for an extended period of time, there are a few things you can do to make sure your pet is safe and happy.

With a dog, you want to make sure you follow campground rules, especially if they like to bark.

If your dog is a persistent barker, try to make sure that you don’t leave him alone during quiet hours or for extended periods. I can’t think of anything much more frustrating than a barking dog when you are just trying to enjoy some quiet time.

Pay close attention to the weather. Extreme heat or extreme cold can be detrimental to your furry friend.

If you don’t have shore power for the AC, and the weather will be warm, open windows for ventilation, and make sure your pet has adequate food and water. And in extreme temps without shore power, I would not leave them inside the RV.

Pet cameras and temperature monitoring systems can help provide some assurance regarding your pet’s well-being while you are away.

A system like This one from Amazon has a camera you can view from your phone.

It also monitors the temperature, humidity, and air quality. So you can have peace of mind knowing that your furry friend is always safe and happy!

If you’re just looking to take a short trip with your dog, check out this recent article. After all, what you’ll be doing and the best way to make sure your dog is safe and comfortable are different on short trips compared to living in your RV with them.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Do most RV parks allow dogs?

Almost all RV parks allow dogs, but there are a few that do not. However, RV park rules regarding pets will be posted on their website and near the entrance of the park.

If you’re unsure, you should contact the park directly.

There are thousands of pet-friendly RV parks across the United States. Some parks even offer dog-friendly features like off-leash areas and on-site pet-grooming facilities.

Others offer easy access to nearby hiking trails or are close to dog-friendly beaches and lakes. There are even RV parks with doggy daycare services, so you don’t have to worry about your pup while you are away!

But even dog-friendly RV parks will have rules.

Sometimes these rules may be a result of the RV park’s liability insurance. These rules will look like size or breed restrictions.

You may find that some parks won’t allow Pit Bulls, Dobermans, or Rottweilers. They may even limit dogs to “small dogs only.” So be sure to read the fine print for any exclusions.

For parks that allow dogs, there will be some common rules that you need to follow.

Some parks will have dedicated pet sites. There may be limits on the number of dogs per campsite. There will typically be pet fees and proof of vaccinations, and you will likely be required to keep your dog on a leash at all times.

Some parks will require that you never leave your dog unattended to prevent barking.

Many parks will require that you clean up after your pet, too. Honestly, this shouldn’t even need to be stated. This is a rule that should be followed everywhere you go with your dog.

Even dog-friendly RV parks may have limits on how long you can stay at the park. Most RV parks have a limit of 28 days, but many have no limit.

Some may even offer discounts if you stay longer.

Just read this recent article to learn more about how long you can stay at RV parks. What really surprised me was just how cheap it can be on a nightly basis to prepare for a week or a month ahead of time!

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How do you stop a dog from barking in an RV?

Familiar bedding, chew toys, and a dog crate can be useful in curbing barking, and always play gentle music for the dog if you will be gone for a period of time. A barking dog either wants attention, needs to potty, or has heard or smelled something unusual and perceives a possible threat. 

But anxiety and stress can also cause a dog to bark. So it’s important to understand your dog and attend to their needs often.

But for stress and anxiety, I like to add Rescue Remedy to my dogs’ water. It soothes and calms them down. Just click that link to see just how cheap it is on Amazon!

Noise disturbances can ruin a camping experience for fellow campers and park managers alike. If your dog barks incessantly, you may be asked to leave. Barking should be handled swiftly in order to avoid conflict with your camping neighbors.

Dogs bark. It’s just what they do. While you can’t stop it completely, you can curb it some. It’s important to find the source of the barking and address that.

Sometimes, it’s just because your dog is bored.

Boredom is an easy fix. While you are in the RV, keep your dog entertained and exercised. Take him for frequent walks and give him toys to keep him stimulated when at home.

If your dog is barking at other dogs, just let him meet other people and dogs. Take him to parks and populated areas to get him used to being around other dogs. Eventually, with positive reinforcement, the barking will subside on its own.

If your dog is barking due to separation anxiety, that’s going to require a completely different approach.

You may need to crate train your dog. Let your dog spend time in its crate every day. This will provide them with a safe place to hang out whenever they are feeling anxious.

Next, leave for short periods every day. This will show your pup that when you leave, you’ll also come back.

Whatever you do, make sure you are gentle but firm and consistent. Reward expected behavior and try to ignore unwanted behavior.

Are KOAs pet-friendly?

KOAs all allow pets and have KampK9 at many of their locations. They have dog-friendly areas, cleanup stations, and fresh water. Some locations even have separate areas for large dogs and small dogs, so you and your dog can be comfortable with dogs of the same size.

KampK9 even has seating for the humans.

Not every KOA has dog facilities. KOA Journey, Holiday, and Resort locations all have KampK9 facilities.

KOA Journey facilities are for short-term stays. They all have different amenities, but not all of them are open year-round. They are lovely places to stay for a night or two while on your way to your final destination.

KOA Holiday campgrounds have more amenities, including RV sites with patios. Holiday and Resort locations offer extended stays.

While KOA campgrounds with dog parks are pet-friendly, each campground will have its own rules. Some locations may limit pets to certain locations. Be sure to check out their website to find the perfect campground for you and your dog.

While you are on your way to your final destination, you might consider dry camping for a portion of your trip.

You can dry camp for up to 14 days before you need to dump your tanks, charge your batteries, and add fuel to your generator.  To read more about how long you can dry camp, check out this recent article.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can you drive your dog into Canada in your RV?

Canada makes it very easy to bring a dog into their country in an RV. If your dog is older than 8 months old, they only need proof of rabies vaccination. Younger dogs may need a health certificate from a licensed veterinarian.

The only requirement to take your dog to Canada is that it be properly vaccinated. You must have proof of vaccination. If your dog is still a puppy, you may have to show a health certificate.

This is not only to prove the age of the dog but to prove that it is healthy, too. You can either take the form to be filled out by your vet, or it can be filled out online.

For more detailed information, go to the USDA website or visit Canada’s page regarding traveling with your dogs.

Your dog will most likely be inspected at the border, too. Border inspectors will look at your dog for any visible illnesses and make sure that the rabies paperwork matches the dog’s description.

Canada is known for its cool climate, but it gets hot there, too. To keep your dog safe and comfortable, you may find that you are running your A/C for long periods.

Luckily, you can run your air conditioning for as long as you have fuel in the generator.

To read more about how long you can run your RV air conditioning, read this recent article. Obviously, your AC can go indefinitely on shore power. But what about generator or battery power? And do you need an inverter for that?

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Can you put a doggie door in a travel trailer?

You can put a doggie door in a travel trailer. While they do not make doggie doors specifically for RVs, simply buy the appropriate-sized door, cut the correct size hole in the camper’s door, and mount the doggie door as the instructions indicate.

If you own a dog, you know how much they love to come in and out of the house. Having a pet door installed is a great way to let them come and go as they please while saving you from having to get up a million times.

Unfortunately, from what I could find, there isn’t an option to purchase a doggy door for an RV. However, you can certainly make one.

One option for smaller dogs is to replace the screen door’s kickplate with a screen door slide. Of course, you would still have to open and close it for them, but at least you won’t have to open the whole door.

You could also get a magnetic screen door.

This would work with any size dog, and they would be able to let themselves out. But you would still have to let them in.

If you decide to purchase a doggie door, keep in mind that they are made for house doors.

This means that it will be made for thicker doors, and for solid wood. You could probably make something like that work as long as you build out the space where the doggy door would go. Just note that if you go this route, you may end up having to replace the door when or if you decide to sell your camper.

Unless the new owners have a dog and are in need of a doggy door, they probably won’t be excited to have a hole in their door.

Are RV pet enclosures worth it?

Portable pet enclosures are a great way to keep pets safe and happy. Crates can be used inside the RV, and outdoor portable fencing works perfectly to have dogs nearby when you are outside.

There are options for small dogs, large dogs, and even multiple dogs.

Sometimes, your dog just needs a little exercise or fresh air.

They should be leashed while you’re out and about. But if you wish to hang out with your dog, a portable pen is worth it because it is a great way to keep your dog contained off-leash.

My personal favorite pen is This one by BestPet on Amazon.

It doesn’t require any special tools, or any tools at all, to set up. It’s super easy to set up and is configurable to multiple sizes and shapes. If you are at an RV park with lots of room at your site, use all the pieces. If you are in a smaller area, just use a few pieces.

No matter where you camp, your dog will have a safe space to hang out.

It has solid latches and stakes, so you can easily build a secure pen without worrying about whether your dog will escape.

It is also lightweight and collapses for easy storage. It comes in different heights, too. If you have a smaller dog, there’s no need for the 40-inch tall fence. Instead, you can get the 24-inch or 30-inch tall one.

This is the ideal pen for camping with dogs of any size.

It is a little bit more expensive than similar setups, but it gets excellent reviews on Amazon, and it is completely worth the price.

Did I answer everything you wanted to know about living in an RV with dogs?

Dogs make great traveling companions and can do very well in an RV long-term.

There are lots of dog-friendly RV parks out there. Some of them even offer special treats for your dog!

Just follow the rules, clean up after your dog, and just generally be a good neighbor, and you and your furry camping companion will have a great time!

Cassandra & Jeff Campbell

Cassandra and Jeff Campbell travel on and off with their 3 daughters in a Newmar Baystar Class A Motorhome. They write extensively on both RVs, campgrounds, parenting on the road tips, remote learning & schooling, and much more!

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