According to a Go RVing national survey, over 65% of RV owners bring their pets with them when they travel. As full time RVers, we take our dog everywhere with us and most of our RV friends have dogs. Here are 21 tips to make RV travel more fun with dogs.
Top 21 Tips for RVing with Dogs- From Full Time RV Owners
#1- Train Your Dog Before You Take Them on an RV Trip
All parks require that dogs be on a leash when not in fenced dog play areas, so make sure your dog is leash trained. If your dog barks like our Schnauzer Rider does, teach them the quiet command.
Basic obedience training that teaches your dog good social skills like not jumping up on people will make your RV travel much more enjoyable.
#2- Ask About RV Park Pet Policies
When making reservations, ask if the park is pet friendly. Do they have a fenced dog park? Do they have any breed or size restrictions? Do they have any pet fees? Some parks also limit the number of dogs they allow you to bring, better to ask before you go rather than to be turned away.
#3- Microchip Your Dog
If you adopted your pet from a shelter, chances are they already have a microchip. If not, it normally costs less than $50 to microchip your dog and it is definitely worth the expense before you leave on your RV vacation.
Microchips are not tracking devices, but instead are radio-frequency implants that provide a way to identify your dog. Veterinarians and pet shelters can scan the chip to identify dog owners. Make sure you have registered your dog on pet registration websites (we used 2 services to be safe- PetLink.net and FoundAnimals.org.)
Tip- Always make sure that your contact information is current in the microchip registry services!
#4- Always Use a Leash
Never let your dog outside without a leash on. No matter how well trained your dog is, new surroundings and environments can be confusing. Don’t take your dog off leash unless they are in a fenced area.
#5- Never Leave Your Dog Outside Your RV Unattended
Leaving dogs outside your RV unattended is very dangerous and can end tragically. One of our RV neighbors left his tiny yorkie outside for just a few minutes and she disappeared and was never found.
#6- Hide a Spare Door Key to Your RV
If you don’t have a Keyless Locking system like we do (you should definitely consider adding one), make a spare key and hide it somewhere outside your RV. This way if you lose your keys or are delayed coming back to your RV, you (or a friend) can get in and check on your dog.
#7- Add a Pet Rescue Sign Outside Your RV
Make sure you have signs on the outside of your RV with the number of dogs inside and your cell number.
#8- Take Your Dog to the Vet Before RV Travel
Make sure you take your dog to the veterinarian before you leave on your RV adventure. Get a wellness exam and any prescription refills (don’t forget heartworm and flea and tick medication).
Tip: Carry copies of your dog’s vaccination records. You will need them if you decide to take your dog to a dog park.
#9- Get a Personalized Dog Collar
Get a dog collar that has your cell number on it. Dog collar tags can get pulled off and lost, so we ordered one that has our number embroidered in and is reflective.
Tip: Add a tag that you can write on or place a sticker on with your RV site number. When you move to another park, just update your site number!
#10- Have a Current Picture of Your Dog
Taking pictures of your RV travels with your dog is fun plus, having a current picture of them can help if they are lost.
#11- Lost Your Dog? Contact the RV Park Office Immediately
RV Parks often have contact lists and Facebook groups, so if your dog is lost they can get the word out to all RV park residents quickly. This is a great way to have lots of help searching for your dog and getting them home safely.
#12- Schedule Travel Rest Breaks
Make sure to schedule rest breaks in your RV travel plans that offer places to walk your dog during your trip. Always walk your dog before leaving for your adventure, otherwise you may find yourself stopping sooner than scheduled!
#13- Always Carry Dog Waste Bags
It is very bad campground etiquette to have your dog taking a bathroom break and not having a bag to clean it up! We store dog poop bags in our tow vehicle and in a handy dispenser on his leash.
#14- Keep Dogs Away From Outside Dangers
Snakes, poisonous plants and wildlife can be very dangerous to your pet. Don’t let your pet run off leash without your supervision. Definitely do not let them swim in canals or lakes unless you are sure that there are no alligators.
In Florida, in addition to alligators and snakes, wild coyotes have now become a problem and can be very aggressive. Normally, coyotes come out at night or early morning hours and have been known attack small dogs.
Tip: Ask RV Park employees about any local hazards that might dangerous to your dog. While in an RV Park in north Florida we actually saw a bear! Park employees said it was very common since the park was next to a national park and the bears came in looking for food.
#15- Use the BringFido Website For Dog Friendly Activities
We use the BringFido site to find beaches, parks and restaurants that are dog friendly when we are travelling through a new area. If you have never used BringFido, they have a website and an app with a huge database of over 250,000 pet friendly places all over the globe.
Tip: BringFido also offers help booking dog friendly hotels without booking fees! One of our RV friends with two Huskies needed an emergency hotel room during an RV repair and reported that using BringFido was a great experience and highly recommends them!
#16- Install an RV Temperature Monitoring System
While you are traveling with your dogs, you will have to leave them alone in your RV at times. Power outages in RV parks can happen pretty often. To ensure your dog’s safety, you should have a temperature monitoring system inside your motorhome that alerts you to changes.
One of the most popular is the wireless device from RVPetSafety.com. The Wi-Fi signals in RV parks are notoriously bad, so this device uses an app to work off of your smart phone’s signal. It will send you a text or email alert if the temperature changes inside your RV. It does require a subscription plan, but you can pause the service when you are not traveling.
Here’s a link to learn more: RVPetSafety
#17- Use Your Generators Auto Start Function to Regulate RV Temperatures
Our RV generator has an auto start function. If the power goes out for a specific amount of time (which we set up), the generator will start itself and run the air conditioner or heating.
Tip: If your RV generator does not already have an auto start function, you can buy a kit to install one for around $100.
#18- RV Dogs Need Exercise
Plan for regular exercise sessions when traveling with your dog. A bored dog can be a destructive dog, so make sure you plan regular play sessions that let them burn off energy. One fun way to do that is taking them on bike rides so that you both get exercise! We found this cool leash that attaches to your bike so that they can run alongside –
#19- Secure your Pet While Traveling in Your RV
Whether you choose a seat belt for your dog or put them in a crate while you are driving, it’s safest to not let them wander around. We always carry a collapsible canvas kennel with us while traveling with our dog. It was a great way to train him when he was a puppy and it made him feel secure and get used to the movements and sounds while we are driving.
#20- Never Operate RV Slides Without Knowing Where Your Dog Is
Make sure you know where your dog is before you open or close your RV slides. If your dog is in a place where the slide movement occurs, your dog can get seriously injured by the moving slide.
Tip: After you are at your RV park and are set up, make sure to turn off your air horn and disable (or cover) anything that your dog might accidently push by jumping up to look out the windshield. Rider stepped on our air horn and WOW was that loud- especially at 7am in the morning!
#21- Consider Purchasing Pet Insurance
When we got our puppy, we decided to look into pet insurance. Traveling in our RV with our dog means we can encounter many different situations and environments and we want to protect him. If the unexpected does happen and we need to take him to a vet for emergency care, that can get very expensive.
There are many pet insurance plans available and we received quotes from several of them. We then had to compare each plan and figure out what the differences are, and that was not fun. Then I found a company that would do that for us- PetInsurer.com
They do the comparison work for you and provide several quotes at once. We only pay about $30 per month and have great coverage for our dog Rider!
Gadgets to Make RVing with Dogs Easier
- No Spill Water Bowl- Our Standard Schnauzer’s beard drips water everywhere when he gets a drink. We finally found this great water bowl that is very inexpensive and actually keeps most of the water out of his beard!
- Bike Leash- (Walky Dog Plus Hands Free Dog Bicycle Exerciser Leash Newest Model with 550-lbs Pull Strength Paracord Leash Military Grade)
- Wahl Pet Friendly Waterless, No Rinse Dog Shampoo
I had no idea this product even existed, but what a great idea! It’s like a mousse and you just rub it in and brush it out. It helps reduce dirt in the RV and eliminates the “wet dog” smell!
Tip: Keep some old towels in outside basements in your RV, so that you can dry your dog off before he tracks dirt inside!
Can You Travel in an RV With An Older Dog?
Yes, you can take your older dog with you on your RV adventures. We found this really cool ramp to make it easier for older dogs to get up RV stairs, and it folds to make storage easy! Designed specifically for dogs and veterinarian approved, it comes in a 3, 4 or 5 step option and works for both large and small dogs.
We had dog ramps for our boat, but this one is much better and easier to handle.
A few other things to know about dogs and RV travel…
- If you are members of Harvest Hosts like we are, many of the Wineries and Host sites are dog-friendly. Here’s a link to learn more and save $15 off of membership!
- Most National Parks are not dog-friendly, but many state parks are! Check with the park office before you go.