7 of the Best Tips for RV Camping with Dogs

Last year we bought our trailer and there are so many perks about camping with a trailer as opposed to tent camping (though I do enjoy that sometimes too). One of those perks is that it makes it a little easier to bring your pup camping. RV camping with dogs is something many people enjoy doing.

However, RVing with a dog requires a few things to know so that you are prepared to make your camping stay and your dog’s camping stay easier. I know if I don’t have to stress about whether my dog is okay I will have a more enjoyable time.

Right now we are living in an RV with a dog. We sold our house and instead of immediately buying a house to live in we decided to take our time and live in an RV while the weather is warmer. It’s quite an adventure already(and I am not going to lie, I love living this small.) But there are some things I’m learning on how to make it work well for both our kids, our dog, and my husband and I.

For some background, our dog is what I like to call a “farm” dog, or a “homestead” dog. We definitely didn’t have a fully functioning farm, but we had a small homestead with NO neighbors. That meant our dog ran around freely most of the time, no leash, and freedom to explore.

You know, the kind of environment your dog runs into a skunk AND a porcupine (and yes, both happened. The skunk meeting was multiple times. )

So I was quite nervous that our dog would have trouble adapting to such a small space and suddenly spending a lot of time on a leash.

But it turns out, if dogs get a lot of attention, and they get to be with you, they don’t really care where they are. It has been a really easy transition, and each day our dog gets better walking on a leash, and becomes more socialized (because you know, before most of his company was the deer I’m pretty sure he was chasing in the forest.)

Other posts you might like about camping and RVing:

These are some things we’ve learned, and so if you are RVing with a dog I hope they can help you too!

RV Camping with Dogs – How to Live in an RV with Dogs

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Give them plenty of exercise.

One of the perks we had about where we lived before is that our dog exercised himself. We didn’t have to walk him – we just opened the door and he ran off the energy himself. But when you live in an RV it’s different. You can’t just let them run – it can be dangerous both for the dog and the other people camping around you.

We walk or throw a ball to our dog on average three times a day – once in the morning, once at lunch, and once before bed.

This will make the time the dog spends in the RV with you a lot more enjoyable. Your pet will be tired out so there will be less whining and pacing. A tired dog is a happy dog.

Check out the leash rules where you are staying.

Most campgrounds require you to keep your dog on a leash and some campgrounds specify how long the leash can be. Make sure you adhere to those rules.

If your dog is like mine and wasn’t well trained on a leash when he started, I recommend a harness like this one. The harness really helps and my dog now loves when I pull out the harness because he knows it means he gets to go for a walk.

Where we are staying we’ve found a spot far away from anybody’s campsite and away from people where we can throw his ball at him. We only do this when we know people aren’t around. Your dog may be different and you know you can toss a ball, Frisbee, or stick to them with people around and they won’t chase people or other dogs. But if you have any concerns that they might (you know, because your dog is a former farm dog:) ) then make sure you have a safeguard to prevent any issues.

You can leave the dog in the RV, but with some precautions so they don’t overheat.

This was my biggest concern when we moved into the RV. I knew that especially because we weren’t just “travelling” but actually living in an RV with a dog, there would be times I needed to leave him behind for things like grocery shopping, doing laundry, and more while my husband was at work. But I was concerned at how safe it was.

Well, if you do it right it’s perfectly safe. If it’s not insanely hot we open all the windows to let a breeze through. However, any windows that open wide and are low enough for a dog to go through we only open a sliver – we don’t want him trying to escape!

If it’s a really hot day we leave the air conditioning on instead. This is a lot easier to do if you have hookups and so if you are travelling in the hot season with a dog and you know you will need to leave him in the RV I recommend parking where this is possible. Maybe leave the boon docking for another time.

We also make sure to LOCK the door when we leave. I don’t want the dog to jump up and accidentally hit the latch that opens the door.

Oh, and don’t forget to leave lots of water for your dog.

There are ways to reduce the barking while you are gone.

If you are concerned your dog will bark the whole time you leave them in the RV, there are some ways to reduce it from happening as much. We keep the blinds down so that our dog can’t see out the windows.

If your dog barks at various noises you may want to either invest in a noise machine you can use with hookups, or the air conditioning might be enough to drown out all the noise outside.

Of course, tiring your dog out before you go out helps with this too. Before we leave our dog at the RV we always exercise him first. I’m pretty sure he mostly just sleeps while we are gone.

Consider a portable fence.

There are portable fences for dogs that some RVers love to use. These are often more helpful if you have a smaller dog. These fences allow you to keep your dog outside safely without worrying that they will take off and it gives them a little more room. Here’s a good one you might like.


Bring Dog Deodorizer. Trust me.

When you are living in an RV you are in a smaller space. That means if your dog gets into anything and smells…well, just plain bad, your RV is going to smell bad.

Nobody wants that. Pack the dog deodorizer. While you are at it pack the skunk shampoo, just in case the worst should happen. (I’m telling you, I will never, ever be without skunk shampoo again.)

Seal up your garbage (and any food).

If you have to leave your dog in the RV when you are not there you want to make sure there isn’t anything the dog can get into while you are gone.

While it goes without saying that food should not be left on the counter (plus, ants and RVs are basically best friends so it’s a good idea to seal up food anyways) you don’t want to forget to seal up your garbage too.

We put ours in a 10 gallon bucket that has this easy Gamma Seal critter proof lid. These lids fit a regular 10 gallon bucket and they screw open for easy access. They look like this:


Living in an RV with a dog is possible

What I’ve learned is that our dog is actually quite content living in an RV with us. He loves how close he is to us at all times. It’s surprised me how much I enjoy having a dog in an RV. As a mom of three kids who already feels like she has her hands full I worried it could be too much. But it really isn’t. He is a welcome part of the family and now, in close quarters he feels even more so like he just belongs here.

He always has someone to curl up next to, and we are more intentional on giving him attention with exercise that he doesn’t seem to miss the large area he had to roam before.

Of course, this could depend on breed as we have an Australian Shepherd and that is a very social breed. Most dogs seem to love being close to their owners and brought on adventures with them, though.

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