13 Essential Tips on How to RV with a Dog

Taking your dogs with you on your RV trips is not only great for them, but it can be great for you as well. With that being said, there are a few things that you can do to make the trip go smoothly. So let’s review the 13 essential tips for RV trips with dogs.

  1. Make sure to bring your dog’s bedding and toys in the RV.
  2. Plan to stop every 2-3 hours while driving for potty and walk breaks
  3. Choose destinations that will allow the dog to participate in some activities.
  4. Make sure the campgrounds you book are dog-friendly

But that’s just a quick snapshot.

So, in this article, we will give pet owners 13 essential tips for traveling with your furry friend in an RV. We’ll review safety, health, comfort, and other traveling tips so you can maximize your time with your dogs on the road. And don’t worry. We’ll have tips for both a small dog as well as larger dogs like a German shepherd.

So, for everything dog owners need to know about traveling with your dogs in an RV, keep reading.

So now, let’s review my . . .

13 essential tips for traveling with your dog in an RV

In this section, we are simply going to give you 13 essential tips for traveling with your dog in an RV. Some of these tips might and might not apply to you and your situation; however, here are those 13 tips.

1. Make sure your dog is comfortable with traveling in the RV

If your dog is not comfortable with the RV, this can make for an awful trip not only for your dog but also for you. In the weeks and months leading up to your trip, you want to try and get your dog as used to the RV as possible and RV travel in particular.

You can start by taking your dog for rides in the RV, starting with just a few miles and increasing the distance as much as you can over time.

You also want to get them accustomed to their designated area, and if you have a crate, a booster seat, or a cage, you want to make sure that they are comfortable with that.

And of course, bring their dog bed from home.

2. Bring a dog crate

You should not keep your dog in the crate unnecessarily.

It is okay to allow them to roam free while driving, but you might want to use the crate for bedtime or if you’ll be out of the RV for a few hours and can’t bring them with you.

While some people (usually not dog-lovers) might see the crate punitively or cruel, most dogs actually find comfort in a familiar place with their bedding and toys, and will happily walk right in.

A crate can also be very useful if your dog starts getting restless while driving. A restless dog can distract the driver, and a restless dog can also be dangerous to the dog itself.

A crate may also act as a space for the dog to call its own. You will notice that even at home, dogs often have a spot that they go to when they want to be alone, and the crate can be that spot while in the RV.

CLICK HERE to check out the collapsable dog crates I bought on Amazon.

And it should go without saying, but if you tow a travel trailer or fifth wheel, never let the dog ride back there. They should ride where you ride.

3. Plan dog-friendly destinations

Not only do you want to make sure the RV parks you’re hitting up allow dogs, but you also want at least some of the places to have nice surroundings and walking or hiking trails too.

At the very least look for campgrounds with dog parks.

It won’t be any fun for any of you if all your stops are urban locations and they are mostly just in a crate or taking brief walks around the campground. Dogs need plenty of space and your furry companion will appreciate frequent stops and an awesome pet-friendly RV campground.

4. Drive nicely

I chose not to say “drive slowly” because sometimes that is not possible.

You want to drive nicely. Keep the RV as steady as possible. Go over speed humps and train tracks carefully, don’t swerve, and don’t step on the brakes sharply.

It’s not only safer for you and your RV, but it minimizes the jostling that your dog experiences and keeps their anxieties to a minimum.

5. Look for dog-sitters before reaching your stopovers

You want to look for a pet sitter wherever you can, even if you don’t think you will need them.

On your trips, there will come times when you want to do things that aren’t very dog friendly, and having a dog-sitter can prevent headaches.

Looking for doggie daycare locations and checking their reviews before you leave is the best way to enjoy your trip and ensure everything goes smoothly.

You should always have a list of a few dog-sitters that are on hand so that if you call one up and they are busy, at least you have a few backup plans.

You can also draw up a list of notes that you want your dog-sitter to keep in mind while they are looking after your dog. Think of it as a checklist.

6. Plan your activities around your dog

You might have to sacrifice doing some activities because not all activities are pet friendly. Hopefully, you have managed to find a dog sitter, but you can still have a great time if you haven’t.

We can use trails as an example. You might not be able to go on specific trails with your dog, so you might plan your hikes to be on trails that allow dogs.

7. Take enough food

Dog food is not that hard to find, so this section is aimed more toward people who feed their dogs a specific type of dog food.

Finding a specific brand can be difficult, depending on where you are. And changing a dog’s food can cause tummy upset or anxiety.

If this applies to you, you want to take enough dog food with you for your trip.

This can be tough, so now might be a good time to do a little bit of research on what dog food is the most similar to yours so that you have a few backup plans while out on the road.

It is also important to remember to provide their food on a set schedule and to not run out of dog food at random times during your trip. If they have a familiar dog bowl, bring that with you.

8. Take chew toys

There will be times on your trip that your dog will become bored.

This could either happen while you are driving or at night just before going to bed. One of the best ways of preventing this or handling boredom would be to take a lot of toys with you for the dog.

You can actually take toys that your dog is already familiar with, and this could help soothe separation anxiety in your dog.

Sometimes it is not enough to just let your dog sit and play with the toys. You might need to get up and play with them yourself with those toys.

9. Constantly check their water

This is pretty obvious while not driving, but when you are driving, it might be something that you forget.

In some cases, it might be impossible to have their water bowl full while driving, and for those instances, you would need to pull over.

And let’s face it; a water bowl is just going to slosh water all over the place.

For that reason, I LOVE these self-feeding water and food dispensers on Amazon. And with a few strips of velcro, it’s easy to attach it to your RV’s floor for minimal movement.

But dogs need plenty of water, so don’t let them go long periods of time without access to it.

10. Stop often and let the dogs out

It is very important that you stop regularly, about every 2-3 hours while driving. You can almost think of it as having a baby on board. Now I know traveling in an RV sometimes means long hours.

Luckily (in this case) RVs typically use a lot of gas. So walks when filling up, are a great thing to do.

Travel days are unavoidable. But some dogs may experience motion sickness and even a short walk can help keep that at bay.

Here is a list of reasons you want to stop regularly and what you should do when you stop.

  • Let your dogs take a pee or a number 2.
  • Allow your dogs to eat.
  • Make your dogs stretch their legs by doing some exercise.

11. Give the dog lots of attention

Give your dogs lots of attention, especially if this is their first trip in the RV.

You want to keep them as comfortable as possible, and you want to let them know that you are there with them even if they can see you at all times.

You want to show them that nothing is changing in terms of the relationship between them and the rest of the family.

After the first trip, you can give them less attention as they will start to look forward to it more and more, and they will understand that the dynamic of the relationship is not changing.

With that being said, many dogs do not do well with change, and taking them on an RV trip for the first time is a massive change in their routine and lifestyle.

But after our 1st month on the road, my dogs will happily walk right into the RV now, and look forward to the next trip.

12.Prevent your dog from barking

If your dog keeps barking, it can quickly turn into a headache for you, literally. And depending on how loud it is, it may get you in trouble too if it is violating the campground rules.

We have already discussed how to prevent your dog from barking, but here is a small list.

  • Keep your curtains closed to avoid distractions from catching your dog’s eye.
  • Make sure they pee before going to bed.
  • While driving, pull over immediately.

13. Plan for worst-case scenarios

Unfortunately, it is not often that everything goes as planned when taking trips in your RV, so you need to plan for the worst-case scenario, especially when it comes to your dog.

You need to figure out what you are going to do in instances that are not in your control. This can be done by researching before leaving.

The most important thing for you to do is check where the local vets are in each of your destinations. It is also important that you take some first aid supplies aimed at dogs just in case something happens.

And bring your dog’s vaccination records with you (or accessible on your phone) just in case you’re asked for them.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you travel with a dog in an RV?

Here is a quick list of tips for how to travel with your dog in an RV:

  • Bring their beds from home for a comfortable and familiar place to sleep
  • Bring chew toys so they’ll be less likely to chew on the RV or your belongings
  • Put Rescue Remedy in their water to reduce anxiety
  • Get self-feeding and sealed food and water containers to minimize spills
  • Plan to stop every 2-3 hours for potty and walk breaks
  • Do bring collapsable dog crates so your dog(s) have someplace to stay while you are out of the RV
  • Do ensure that AC or heat are left on anytime your dogs are left inside of the RV

Before going on RV trips, you normally do your planning months or at least weeks before you set out on the journey.

If you plan on taking your dog along with you, it is crucial that you use this time to get your dog comfortable with the RV because you don’t want to find out that your dog is uncomfortable on the day you leave.

Even when your dog is comfortable traveling in the RV, you want to make sure that while you are driving, you keep in mind how your dog is doing.

You might have to change the way you drive.

I am not saying that you should drive too slow, especially when you are on the freeway, but you want to drive in a manner that keeps the RV as steady as possible.

Traveling with your dog in an RV can be tricky because you could travel 100 miles with absolutely no problem, and all of a sudden, your dog starts to become anxious.

This anxiety could turn into restlessness, and in this situation, you want to make sure that you have a designated area for your dog to go, preferably with some form of a crate.

CLICK HERE to check out the collapsable dog crates I bought on Amazon.

Having this crate or cage for when your dog starts to become restless while traveling in the RV could be the thing that stops your dog from doing something that might hurt him or her.

Finally, while traveling with your dog in an RV, you want to take enough breaks.

Use this time to allow your dog to do their number one and number two. When you do this, try and keep your dog on a leash.

You could also use this time to give your dog a little bit of exercise so that they can stretch their legs.

Is it OK to leave a dog in an RV while I go out?

It is OK to leave a dog inside an RV as long as there is no danger of the dog getting too hot or too cold. The best practice is to leave the heat or air conditioning on to ensure a comfortable climate.

And if you decide to leave your dog in the RV while you are out, you need to make sure that they have water and enough food.

I prefer to put our 2 terriers in collapsable dog crates we got on Amazon.

That’s because they get nervous when we aren’t around and are apt to chew on everything. We make sure they get food and water before we go. Then we take them on a walk, and finally, put them in the crate with their beds and some chew toys.

This works great.

If you are in a warm climate and you cannot guarantee that the temperatures inside the RV will stay at reasonable levels, and turning on the AC isn’t an option, then it is not best to leave your dog in the RV while you are out.

This is also true if you are not comfortable with leaving them in the RV because it could make your activity or trip one that is filled with anxiety on your side.

The best practice would be to get a dog sitter for the day so that they can keep your dog company, make sure that they are OK, and also keep your dog entertained.

The good news is that these are easier to find than you might think.

Another cool option I saw on the road are some portable outdoor dog fences. They set up in minutes, are easily stored in your RV, and give the dogs the ability to play outside without the danger of overheating inside the RV.

I would NOT use these anywhere like Yellowstone where predators live. And I would not do it if my dogs were prone to barking frequently. It’s also possible some campgrounds won’t allow it. But they’re inexpensive and a good alternative to have available.

CLICK HERE to check out the best one on Amazon.

Can dogs ride in a pull-behind camper or 5th wheel?

Dogs cannot ride in any camper that is towed. They need to ride in the truck with the other passengers. If the vehicle and the living compartment of an RV are not directly connected, most laws prohibit anybody from riding in the living compartment while driving.

All passengers need to be in a motorized vehicle. The same goes for dogs. I know that this can be tricky if you have kids with you. 

Ultimately, this is because, while rare, accidents do happen with towed campers or 5th wheels. And when they do happen, the camper can become disconnected from the truck. That can be incredibly dangerous for any living create inside the camper.

And because you have to keep the dog in front of you, it is important to make sure that they are as comfortable as possible.

If space is limited due to the number of passengers in the vehicle, it is best to take more stop breaks than you would have.

If your dog is cramped up for too long, they will start to become restless, and they could begin to become car sick. This could lead to quite a large mess in your vehicle.

If space is not limited, you want to lay down a blanket over the backseat of your truck just in case the dog does get car sick, and it also helps protect the materials of the seats.

How can I keep my dog safe in an RV?

Dog safety tips in an RV include ensuring they don’t get left in an RV that is too hot or too cold. But also avoid leaving them outside the RV where predators may live. And never have them ride in a towed camper.

But that’s just a quick list. We’ll get a little more detailed down below.

We can start off by saying that the fact that you want to take your dog with you on your RV trips shows that you value them as a part of your family, which is great.

So, I can assume that keeping them safe is something you are concerned about, so here is a list of things you can do to keep your dogs safe while in the RV.

  • Have a designated space with a secured cage or crate: How you secure the cage to the RV depends on the RV. Some people build their dog cage into the RV, but if that is not an option, try placing it in a secure area and tie it down.
  • Never leave your dog in a 5th wheel or pull-behind camper while driving: We have already discussed this. You cannot legally allow your dog to travel in a 5th wheel while the vehicle is moving.
  • Get a dog booster seat: This is an excellent option if you do not have a cage or crate. It is the best option for your dog in your truck if you have a 5th wheel or pull-behind camper.
  • Get your vet to recommend some nausea tablets: Keeping your dog safe in the RV is not all about securing them. You also need to keep in mind their health.
  • Put Rescue Remedy in your dog’s water to calm anxiety: We have already mentioned that your dog may become restless. You can buy Rescue Remedy on Amazon and just add it to your dog’s water to help keep them calm.

Do most RV parks allow dogs?

Most RV parks do allow dogs and other pets. There are also some RV parks that have facilities specifically to cater to dogs such as grooming or pet sitting options. However, not all RV parks allow dogs.

So, the best thing for you to do would be to call the offices of RV parks where you will be staying before you even leave for your trip.

It is always best to make sure before you leave.

Why do some RV parks NOT allow dogs? Because of some of all of the following:

  • Excessive barking can disturb other guests
  • Inconsiderate owners don’t pick up after their dogs after going potty
  • Liability issues if a mean dog attacks another guest

When taking your dog to an RV park that does allow dogs, it is important to remember to do so responsibly.

You can do this by doing things such as picking up your dog’s mess and chucking it in a bin. And never let your dog outside your RV without being on a leash. I like to think about it as “keeping up your side of the bargain”.

If everybody does this, more RV parks will be open to allowing dogs in the future.

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

Stop a barking dog in your RV by ensuring they are adequately fed, watered, and walked. You can also give them treats to help manage anxiety. Dogs can bark when anxious, when they see or smell something unfamiliar they perceive as a possible threat, when they want your attention, or when they need to go potty.

Barking while driving

If you are busy driving and your dog starts barking, this can be very dangerous as it can distract the driver.

It could also mean that something is wrong with the dog, so the best thing to do is pull over the RV as soon as you can and make sure the dog is ok.

Once you have pulled over, you could take the dog out to see if they were barking because they needed to do a number one or two.

It could also be that the dog was getting anxious, so a rest from driving will be a good idea. Take 10 to 15 minutes to allow your dog to relax or even stretch its legs.

Inside a parked RV

If you are parked at an RV Park, whether it is day or night, and your dog starts barking, you want to go and give them attention as soon as you can.

A great way to get them to stop barking is to start playing with them. If you can’t go outside the RV, it is ok to use a few toys and play with the dogs for a little bit.

If it is night time and you are sure that where you are parked is safe, you might want to take your dog outside.

This is because they might have heard something and a dog’s instinct is to protect itself and its family.

So, taking them out to show them that there is nothing there can be a good idea as long as you know it is safe. First, remember to keep him on a leash just in case there is a squirrel or something, and he decides to chase it.

Whether you are driving or parked, you want to keep your curtains closed.

The two main reasons why your dog will start barking is because they need to go outside and pee or they are seeing distractions.

Closing your curtains can limit the number of distractions and, therefore, giving them fewer reasons to bark.

Are dogs allowed in National Parks?

Dogs are allowed at most national parks, but some rules and guidelines need to be followed while you are there.

This section will take a look at three of the leading national parks and briefly discuss their policies.

Can I take my dog to Old Faithful?

You can take your dog to Old Faithful and other parts of Yellowstone National Park. However, they do need to be leashed at all times and are not allowed on boardwalks or too close to thermal features.

These are the rules that you need to follow:

  • Pets may only accompany people in developed areas and must remain within 100 feet (30.5 meters) of roads, parking areas, and campgrounds.
  • Pets must be physically controlled at all times: they must be in a car, in a crate, or on a leash no more than six feet long.
  • Pets are not allowed on boardwalks, hiking trails, in the backcountry, or thermal areas.
  • Pets may not be left unattended or tied to an object.
  • Pets may not be left in a situation where food, water, shade, ventilation, and other basic needs are inadequate. Pets may remain in vehicles for short periods, but it is recommended that someone stay behind to personally ensure their well-being.
  • Owners must bag and dispose of pet waste.

Is the Grand Canyon dog-friendly?

The Grand Canyon is dog-friendly as long as they are leashed at all times, but there are slightly different rules for the North and South rim areas.

The South Rim

  • Your dog must be leashed at all times.
  • On the South Rim, your dog is allowed above the rim and in developed areas. They are not allowed below the rim.
  • The South Rim has a kennel room.

The North Rim

  • Dogs must be leashed at all times.
  • They are only allowed on the bridle trail.
  • There is no kennel room on the North Rim.

Is Yosemite dog friendly?

Yosemite is one of the most pet-friendly national parks in the US. Dogs are allowed on most of the trails, and the park has kennel rooms available as well. Yosemite does require that all pet food be kept in bear-proof containers.

That being said, they aren’t generally allowed on the unpaved trails and some paved trails specifically forbid dogs and will have posted signs.

Because Yosemite is bear-country, it’s especially important to not leave dogs outdoors unattended.

Do Dogs Like Traveling in an RV?

Final thoughts

If you follow all of the guidelines that we highlighted in this article, you can have a great RV trip.

And your dogs can have a memorable experience that will not only strengthen the bond between the two of you; it can also be a lot of fun for the both of you.

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