No-fail tips for RVing with dogs


You may have seen over on our social media accounts that we recently got a new puppy. Her name is Resa, which means “to travel” in Swedish, and she will indeed be traveling with us early this summer on our RVing adventure. We’ve never camped with such a young puppy, though, so I’m sure we will have lots to learn. Thankfully we have had a lot of experience camping and RVing with our other two dogs, who have been awesome travelers. (We are hoping Resa will be too!) Below is an older post highlighting some of our favorite tips for camping and RVing with dogs.

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From time to time we get emails from readers with great questions related to camping and RVing. Some of those questions we have turned into blog posts over the years. So if you have questions, send us an email, and if it is something other readers would be interested in, we may post our response over on the blog as well. First up, a question from Jennifer about camping with dogs:

We just bought a hybrid travel trailer. We are very excited since we are both teachers and have the summer off. I have been doing a lot of research and came across your site. The one thing I’m nervous about is traveling with the dogs. They are 1 now but still puppies. How do you choose places to go that are good with dogs? Some say dog friendly but when you read fine print on policies they are really strict and dogs can’t go anywhere. Do you ever leave them in camper and go somewhere? I saw you have a crate. Any info would be great. Thanks.

Great question, Jennifer. We have camped with our dogs from the time Sydney (our late Golden Retriever) was an older puppy, and Olive (our Goldendoodle) came along on her first camping trip just a few months after we adopted her. We have rarely NOT had the dog(s) with us–but their presence does require a few more considerations when it comes to campgrounds and touring adventures. So below are some thoughts on how we plan with our pets in mind.

How to choose where to go

The first step when choosing a campground is to see whether it accepts pets. Private campgrounds will advertise this usually on their Frequently Asked Questions pages. Public campgrounds usually have a search function to see whether they have pet sites, or sometimes there will be an icon on the main page indicating whether pets are allowed. I will often call the campground to verify that pets are accepted BEFORE I make any online reservations. That is also a good time to clarify whether the campground has any restrictions on the type of breed, size, or number of pets.

Even if the campground accepts pets, many campgrounds have specific pet loops or pet sites, so you need to make sure that the loop or site you choose is considered pet friendly. Online you can generally view a campground map that will have a map key showing you where in the campground pets are permitted.

Leaving pets alone in the camper

We have often had to leave our dogs in the camper while we are out touring or exploring an area. While we are gone, Sydney did not need to be in a crate but Olive tends to have some separation anxiety issues so we choose to crate her while we are away. We have had several crates in the past but we love the L.L. Bean collapsible crate because of its size when collapsed and its ease of use. (If you have a chewer, though, it might not be the best option since it is made from material–albeit a heavy duty material.)

Before we leave the dogs, we make sure they have eaten, gone to the bathroom, have fresh water available, have a chew toy, and are safely secured in a crate or behind the pet gate.

Additionally we:

  • adjust the camper’s thermostat so that they will be comfortable while we are gone;
  • turn on our camper radio, putting it at a level high enough to provide background noise, but not so loud that it would disturb our camping neighbors;
  • and lock our camper.

Leaving your dog alone in the camper may not be feasible for dogs that are prone to anxiety and barking while their owners are away. You will not have happy camper neighbors if you leave for three hours and your dog barks the entire time. (And many campgrounds reserve the right to evict you if your pets are a nuisance to others.)

In her younger years Olive was quite a barker (thankfully she outgrew that stage!). The first trip we took her on, we were concerned she might have a hard time and bark incessantly while we were gone–and the campground we were staying at made it very clear that disruptive dogs would result in eviction. So before we arrived, we called the campground to ask for a recommendation for a reputable kennel–i.e., doggy daycare–in the area. We were able to make day-time reservations for Olive for the two days we were going to be off touring the area. We just had to make sure we got her the kennel cough vaccination before we left on our trip.

Before another of our trips we had investigated and experimented with a citronella bark collar–a gentle alternative to shock collars. She would often bark so much that she depleted the citronella canister quickly–and she didn’t seem to be especially phased by the smell. Meanwhile the area around her was quite fragrant. Ugh. So for her it wasn’t a good fit, but for other pet owners we have talked to, citronella collars have worked well, so this might be another good option for keeping your dog(s) quiet while you are away from your camper. I would recommend testing it out before your trip, however. If the citronella doesn’t phase your dog, then it may not solve your problem but leave you with another: a very odoriferous camper!

On our trip to Philadelphia a couple summers ago, we wanted to spend the day in the city exploring the national landmarks and other spots. But we were concerned about leaving the dogs for too many hours. We found the perfect solution in the form of a KOA that offered a pet walking service. For a small fee (at the time it was $5 per dog, per walk), you could set up to have a campground staff member come let your dog out while you were away for the day. This was a simple solution so we could enjoy our day in the city worry-free. Since then we have discovered many other private campgrounds offer similar services, so if you are planning a day trip away from the campground, staying at a private campground with pet services might be a good idea.

Campground etiquette with pets

Most campground etiquette with pets is simple common sense:

  • Keep your pet on a leash whenever it is outside of the camper. While many people love pets and don’t mind a friendly doggie greeting, others are not so thrilled. When the dogs aren’t on a leash for walks, we sometimes use a longer lead and a stake in the campsite. The stake has to be carefully positioned to prevent people from tripping AND the dog from getting tangled–even with careful placement you may still have some issues. 🙂 This usually works best in places where you have a large campsite area.
  • Clean up after your dog. Not all campgrounds have bags stations to clean up after your dog so we always have extra plastic shopping bags that we keep in the camper storage compartment. A baby wipes container works great for keeping them all in one place.
  • Keep your dog quiet. If you have a barker, that might mean leaving him/her in the camper so he/she isn’t constantly barking at everyone who walks by.
  • Don’t leave your pet unattended in your campsite. If you are leaving your campsite area, secure your dog in your camper before you leave. This is safer for them and ensures they don’t get into trouble while you are away.

dogs and campfires

Helpful pet gear for camping

Aside from dog food, bowls, a dog bed, chew toy, and a collapsible crate, here are a few more items you might find helpful:

  • Flea and tick medicine: We once stopped to let Sydney go the bathroom at a roadside rest. When Jarrett came back from the grassy area, his pants were speckled with ticks, and yet Sydney (who was on flea and tick medicine) did not have one tick on her. We became firm believers that day in the power of flea and tick medicine!
  • A leash and stake (as mentioned above)
  • Up-to-date ID tag or microchipping
  • A copy of the dog’s up-to-date vaccination record (this may be needed if you are crossing state lines or country borders).

So those are some of the ways we have integrated our pets into our camping adventures. What tips would you add? Be sure to check out our Pinterest page “Camping with Pets”, where we are pinning additional ideas and tips for camping with your furry friends.

Happy camping!

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tips for camping with your dog


16 thoughts on “No-fail tips for RVing with dogs

  1. cyn Calvert

    a good tip for the stake/tie out that you screw into the ground is either painting the top of it with glow in the dark paint or I have purchased those little bracelet glow rings and looped that thru it so if people come thru the site at nite they wont trip over it. You should test your dog out first with the glow bracelet just in case they think its tasty and would chew it..

  2. Greg

    Instead of screwing someting into the ground, we tie a rope between two trees and put a big carbiner on it. Then we just clip her leashe to it and she can run back and fourth… usually gives her access to most of the camp site.

    1. Kristin

      Hi Greg–thanks for stopping by and reading! That’s a great suggestion for another dog tie-out. Thanks for sharing! Happy camping!

    2. Heather Cowan

      Picket lines for dog happiness.That is the best safest method I’ve found for dog camping. Dog bowls on one end and plenty of rope length so everyone gets their space.????????

  3. Barbara

    Another tip for pet i.d. that I use for longer campground stays is to have an inexpensive i.d. tag made with your name and campsite on it, in case your cell phone doesn’t get service where you are camping. We usually make campground reservations ahead of time, so I know what site we will have. I just add it to the collar along with his other tags, then remove when we get home. If it is a campground/site we return to often, I just save it for next time.

    1. Kristin

      Hi Barbara! Thanks so much for stopping by–and thanks for sharing the great tip! It would be great for those annual family camping trips!

  4. Carol

    Love these ideas and your website. We just bought a travel trailer and look forward to many camping trips all across the country.

    1. Kristin

      Hi Carol! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading! Congrats on the new travel trailer! Exciting times are ahead–happy camping!

  5. Steven/Buddy

    I camp all the time with Buddy my dog, he travels everywhere with me, heck his seat is the front passenger seat , with his name on the outside of the door.
    We have a couple of vintage campers that we camp in and what I do to every camper is, I place heavy duty eyebolts under it on the frame, one at each corner and one just about a foot to the side of the door. I drill the frame and tighten them down, so no matter where we go I always have a place to hook Buddy up. What is nice if I go on the other side of the camper, I just hook Buddy up there, I always have a 20 foot cable in the campers for him because in our travels most campgrounds say the longest is 20 foot.
    Then if I ever have to leave Buddy in the camper (which I really try not to do) what I do is I leave one of my cellphones with it plugged in, and I bought a WIFI thermostat that will text me if it gets to hot or to cold in the camper. Its hooked up to the extra cellphone via Bluetooth with the hotspot on, so in case something happens to the AC or heat, even if the power is off there is a 9v battery in the thermostat that will send a text to me so this way I dont worry if its to hot or cold. But like I said I try not to leave him in the camper, I plan everything with Buddy to go with me.
    I also have a tag on my door saying theres a dog inside in case of a emergency. I also have a Drivers license for Buddy with all his info and contact info on it with a picture, it looks just like my home state drivers license. I got this from a place on the Internet google Dog DMV ID’S
    Just remember we choose to bring our dogs with us to have a great time, so I believe that then you should plan to go places that let you bring your dog with you and not leave your dog behind in your camper, but I know there are times when we have no choice.

    1. Kristin

      Hi Steven! Thanks so much for stopping by and reading! And thanks for sharing more tips for camping with a dog–those are great ideas! Happy camping!

  6. Stuart

    I like the idea about putting up a line between trees, but I also know that many state and national campgrounds prohibit any lines tied to trees because of safety (people running between trees, etc.), and that fact that you can easily girdle small trees, although you won’t readily see the damage for a couple years. Can you take precautions? Yes, certainly, but many don’t.

    1. Kristin

      Hi Stuart–thanks for stopping by and reading! You make a great point: Since campground rules vary greatly, campers should always check before using line between trees (whether a dog line, clothesline, hammock, etc.). Happy camping!

  7. Nancy

    I attach to my dogs harness which is what she wears while camping a luggage tag with my information on it and the place where we are camping. Also, has the local phone numbers etc. So if for some reason we are parted we have a information that is current on her. Also, I use x pens for having her outside the camper to relax if I’m not able to have her right with me (fixing dinner, etc.)

    1. Kristin

      Hi Nancy–thanks so much for stopping by and reading! And thank you for sharing your tips! That’s a great idea to use the luggage tag to record all the dog’s important info. I was also thinking about using an xpen this summer with our pup. If we can fit it in the camper, I think it would be a huge help! 🙂

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