RVing can be a great way to travel without leaving your furry companions at home or a boarding facility, which can often stress out your pet (and you). Before you go RV camping with dogs, however, there are several things you need to consider to prepare yourself and your pet for a successful RV road trip.
In our years of RV camping and living with our dogs, we’ve had our fair share of ups and downs. So today, we’re sharing our top tips for RV camping with your dogs.
Do Dogs Like RV Camping?
Many dogs love RV camping. RV travel can provide a consistent, low-stress solution to travel for many dog owners. In an RV, dogs can have their special bed, toys, and a routine. Many dogs love travel days where they get to smell new smells, go on hikes, and maybe even make some new friends.
However, RVing with a dog can pose some challenges, especially if you don’t follow the spoken and unspoken rules.
5 Golden Rules for RV Camping with Dogs
After many years of RV living with our dogs, we’ve encountered many reasonable, unreasonable, and downright wacky rules. From limitations at campgrounds on the number or breed of dogs in your RV to reasonable leash and clean-up laws, dogs can make camping a bit more complicated. But the rewards of sharing your adventures and not worrying about someone else caring for your fur baby make RV camping with your dogs a desirable option.
#1. Pick Up After Your Dog – Always!
Always, always, always pick up after your dog! This is by far the #1 complaint about dog owners and can get pets banned from certain areas that were once enjoyed by all. When RV camping with your dogs, neglecting this rule can get dogs banned from the campground.
Leaving your dog’s waste can also spread diseases to other pets and wildlife and humans in the same area. Don’t spoil it for everyone else. Please pick up your dog’s poop.
#2. Keep Your Dogs On Leashes
Many municipalities and pretty much all dog-friendly campgrounds have leash laws. This means your dog must be on a leash, and breaking these laws can have serious consequences. While some campgrounds have dog parks or off-leash areas, you should expect to do a lot of leash walking while RV camping.
Without looking up every town’s laws, there are several reasons you should keep your pet on a leash at all times unless you are in a dedicated off-leash dog park.
For starters, leash laws protect your dog. When off-leash, a dog can roam freely and may encounter other dogs who might not be dog-friendly, even if these dogs are being kept on a leash. They could also encounter wild animals they aren’t used to interacting with and may be injured or killed. Think skunks, porcupines, elk, or bears.
They could also find something rotten or poisonous to eat. If you aren’t there to keep them from getting to it in the first place, pets are notoriously fast at scarfing down something they shouldn’t. Leash laws also frequently apply to RVing cats.
Secondly, leash laws protect you and other people. If your dog gets into trouble off-leash, you may get in harm’s way to get your dog out of it. If they get in a fight with another dog or animal, it can be dangerous to break it up. Dogs have also been known to lead dangerous animals, like bears, moose, etc., back to their owners.
Did you know? The famous Asher House sanctuary in Oregon has origins in RVing. Find out how Lee Asher traveled with several dogs across America, photographing shelter pets.
#3. Check Campground & Park Rules
All campgrounds are different, but everyone we’ve ever gone to has had rules for pets. Some have limits on the number of dogs, some have pet breed restrictions, and others flat-out prohibit them altogether. Every campground has formal leash rules and clean-up rules, too.
For those looking to RV camp with multiple dogs, you may have to search more for appropriate places to stay. Most campgrounds limit dogs to two per campsite. Additionally, many bully breeds, Dobermans, Rottweilers, and other presumed dangerous breeds, are discriminated against.
If you come across campgrounds and parks that do not allow your canine situation, it’s best to avoid them. If caught breaking the rules, you can be evicted from the campground. Many places also have policies against leaving your dog alone in an RV at a campground. We recommend learning how to camp on public lands instead, where there aren’t as many restrictions.
As for visiting State and National Parks, almost all these natural places also prohibit pets on trails and outside developed areas. Dogs can leave scents that disrupt the ecosystem, spread disease, and even injure or kill wildlife. These are the very things the parks are intended to protect and preserve.
For National Parks, check out the National Park Service Website. Here you can learn where your dog can go, which parks allow what, and how your furry friend can become a BARK Ranger.
#4. Use Identification Tags & Microchips
Even if you’re dog is good at “coming home,” when RV traveling and camping in unfamiliar places, they might lose their way. This is why your pets must have collars and identification tags to help reunite them with you should you become separated during your travels.
Microchips are also incredibly important. After all, what if your pet loses its collar?
Microchips can be read by animal control offices, humane societies, and veterinarians so your dog’s home can be found even if they slip their collar off. You can easily get them done at any veterinary office, PetSmart (that has the Banfield Vet Clinic inside), and sometimes even at low-cost vaccination clinics. These are held periodically at Tractor Supply or pet stores through services such as VIP Pet Care.
#5. Don’t Leave Your Dogs In Hot Vehicles
Temperatures can quickly rise to uncomfortable and deadly heights in vehicles left in the sun – even if the windows are cracked. This is why you should never leave your dog unattended in a car.
Similarly, your RV can heat up in the sun. You shouldn’t leave your dog in your RV alone unless you’re hooked up to power and can run vent fans or the air conditioner. While RVs typically have better insulation, they can still get pretty warm quickly. Try to avoid parking in the direct sun and without proper ventilation.
Pro Tip: We’ve been full-time RVing with our dogs for years. Here’s how to set your RV up for doggy travel.
How To Introduce a Dog To Your RV?
To set yourself up for success, it’s best to introduce your dog to your RV before travel day. While many dogs have no problem with RV travel, some get nervous on travel days. Doing some pre-work to get them comfortable with the RV and creating a positive experience will go a long way toward making your camping trip a success.
First, allow your dog to come into the RV on their own without pulling, pushing, or pressure. Use praise and treats to make them happy about the situation. Allow them to smell the RV and investigate all the nooks and crannies. Bring their bed into the RV and some of their toys so they can relax and play if they want to. After a few minutes, let them leave the RV. Do this several times with longer intervals until they are calm and relaxed about going in and out of the RV.
Enjoy RV Camping with Your Dogs
RV camping with dogs can be a blast! Having your furry companion along is a fantastic way to make lasting memories. Most dogs love exploring the outdoors, making camping the perfect entertainment for them. By following the golden rules of RVing with dogs, you can ensure happy times for everyone.
Have you taken your dogs RVing? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.
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