7 Tips for a Successful RV Trip with your Dog

There is nothing like traveling in an RV. RVs give travelers a place to unpack all of their belongings and transport their vacation home on wheels, complete with a fully-stocked kitchen, accessible bathroom, and comfy bed, to their destination of choice. Because of this, many love the freedom and benefits that come along with vacationing in an RV. One such benefit is the ability to bring the whole family along on trips, including the family dogs.

The idea of bringing your beloved dog along on an RV trip may seem daunting. After all, traveling in an RV is most likely entirely new for most dogs, and owners may not know what to expect. Consider the following tips for the successful planning of an RV trip that the entire family can enjoy.

Rving can bring great views for you and your dogs!!
Luna and Foxey, @188sqft

1. Designate a place for your dog to travel.

When you are moving your RV from one place to another, you will need to choose a location for your dog to ride. If you are towing a fifth wheel or travel trailer, your dog will need to ride in your truck with you, as it is never safe for anyone to ride in the trailer while towing. Many dogs prefer to stretch out on the back seat, but some dogs may need to be crated due to travel anxiety. Since most dogs tend to enjoy riding in the car, this shouldn’t be too much different from any other time you take your pup for a rude.

If your RV is a motorhome, your dog may initially be nervous. After all, the feeling of being inside a moving motorhome is fairly different from being inside a moving car. Your dog may need some time to adjust. Consider laying his bed somewhere near where you will be riding or encouraging him to rest on the couch. This will ensure he is relaxed and less anxious during travel.

No matter where you choose for your dog to ride, be sure that he is comfortable when driving long hours, and plan to stop every few hours for bathroom breaks and water.

Many dogs enjoy watching hte sights pass by while traveling in an RV.
Nesta, @glasgows_onthego

2. Decide where your dog(s) will sleep.

Your dog may not be accustomed to sleeping outside of your house. In this case, be sure to emulate a similar scenario to his sleeping situation at home. If he typically sleeps in your bed, allow the same in the RV. If he has his own dog bed, be sure to bring it along for your trip. This will ensure that your dog is comfortable and receives a good night’s sleep, which will also allow you and the rest of your family to rest as well.

Many dogs enjoy the creature comforts of RV life as much as any human.
Oakley and Ella, @lindseyandgerrit_adventure

3. Bring along plenty of food, toys, and water.

This is fairly basic, but it’s also important. Plan to bring along extra food for your dog, in case the worst should happen and you break down or are away longer than you initially expected. Keep his water bowl clean and accessible at all times, and bring plenty of fresh water along. Pack your dog’s favorite toys to ensure he has something to occupy himself when you are relaxing in the RV.

When RVing with your dogs, be sure to give them plenty of daily exercise!
Foxey, @188sqft

4. Provide exercise and mental stimulation.

Your dog may be accustomed to frequent exercise in his backyard. If you are staying in a campground or at a Harvest Host location, you likely will not have a fenced in area for him to play. Some RV parks and campgrounds have fenced-in, off-leash areas for traveling pups. If this is not the case, you could find a local off-leash dog park, or take your pup for a nice long walk or jog to wear him out.

Whatever you do, try to provide your pup with the same amount of exercise that you typically do at home. After all, your dog doesn’t know that he is on vacation and will likely expect the same amount of mental stimulation as usual.

RVing with dogs can be very fun, especially when they can run and play outside.
Luna, @lifeamongpines

5. Decide where to leave your pup when engaging in activities that are not dog-friendly.

This tends to be one of the biggest factors when bringing your dog along on an RV trip. Perhaps you want to check out a local restaurant without a dog-friendly patio, or maybe you want to take a hike in a national park that does not allow dogs. This may require you to leave your dog alone for a few hours at a time.

RVs tend to have ample space for your dog to wander, and most dogs should be fine with being left behind for a little while. After all, most dog owners leave their dog alone at home whenever they are working or running errands, so this is something your dog should be accustomed to. Draw the blinds and play some soothing music to block out extra light and sound. This will encourage your dog to spend more time snoozing and less time barking while you are away.

If you are truly uncomfortable with leaving your dog alone for a few hours, try to plan only dog-friendly activities. If this is not possible, seek out a local pet-sitter or dog-walker to spend time with your dog while you are away.

Many dogs enjoy the panoramic views that come along with RVing.
Archie, @lifeamongpines

6. Have a plan in case an emergency situation should arise.

Emergencies are unlikely, but it is always good to be prepared. Have the number for a local veterinarian handy just in case the worst should happen. Be careful not to let your dog out when coming and going from your RV, and keep an ID tag on his collar at all times. This will ensure that someone can find you if your dog were to escape.

Jake and Shorty love to enjoy the outdoors steps away from their RV home!
Jake & Shorty, @nealysonwheels

7. Go slow.

Remember that RV travel is likely brand new for your dog. He may adjust immediately, but he may also need some time to become fully comfortable in the RV. If you plan to bring your dog along for a long trip, consider practicing with a few shorter trips first. Perhaps you can plan to spend a few hours in the RV while it is parked in your driveway so that your dog can familiarize himself with the new environment. You could even plan to spend a night in the RV ahead of time, so that your dog knows what to expect.

Every dog is different, and some may adjust more quickly than others. You know your dog best and can develop a plan of action that works best for you.

These shih tzus love their life traveling full-time in an RV.
Teton & Sierra, @wander-free.and.queer

RVing with your dog may seem like a hassle, but most dog owners can agree that it is more fun to bring your dog on vacation than it is to leave him at home. In addition, you will forgo the cost of a pet sitter by bringing your dog along. Most dogs are fairly adventurous and enjoy experiencing new things with their owners. With some prior research and thoughtful considerations, you can surely plan a trip that both you and your dog will enjoy together.

RVing with dogs in Zion National Park can be a ton of fun!

Have you ever taken an RV trip with your dog? Do you have any tips to add? Feel free to comment below, and be sure to stay tuned for a future article on RVing with cats!

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  1. Debbi
    13th June, 2019

    I use Rover.com to find local pet sitters and walkers. I did a river raft ride in Moab two yrs ago and left my dog at the sitter home all day. Well worth the money and peace of mind!!

    1. Sam Binger
      15th June, 2019

      Yes, Rover is a great resource! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  2. Sandra
    13th June, 2019

    Bring your pets health cert to support up to date on shots, etc. make sure they are also protected from ticks and fleas. soft sided crates are wonderful for RV travel, they store easily. Bottled water is good for pets and coffee. 17,000 miles last year with my dog and me.

    1. Sam Binger
      15th June, 2019

      Wow, you and your dog have traveled far! Great tips, especially about the records and flea/tick prevention. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Scott Kenyon
    22nd May, 2019

    We travel with three golden retrievers. We have never had any serious issues. The dogs get really excited when the hear the motor home pull up in front of our house. They love traveling in the RV.

    1. Sam Binger
      23rd May, 2019

      That sounds like so much fun! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  4. Stacy
    21st May, 2019

    We bought our RV because we like to travel a lot and it was getting harder and harder to arrange care for the dogs all the time. They get super excited each time the RV is being loaded for a trip. We have a 6 year old high energy Vizsla and a 12 year old standard poodle and we couldn’t imagine RV life without them!

    1. Sam Binger
      23rd May, 2019

      Yes, having the RV really makes it easier to travel when you have pets. Thanks for sharing!