When our family started to travel in an RV with our pets, we had no idea the fun that was in store for us. The RV life changed us for the better and, we hope, made us better dog parents. But along the way, and in every state and probably on every highway, we have made many mistakes.
Some mistakes you just have to learn for yourself, but other mistakes can be avoided when it comes to RVing with your dog. Preparation, flexibility, and a sense of humor have to be packed just like the snacks! Yes, please don’t forget the snacks when RVing with your dog. Lesson learned. But there are many more mistakes we have made in over six years of RV life with our dogs.
Don’t make these mistakes like we did!
Not Checking a Campground’s Dog Policies
I did not realize that there are some campgrounds that simply do not allow dogs. In addition, many campgrounds have breed restrictions, weight restrictions, and the number of pets allowed in your RV. Read the small print, and if in doubt, ask.
After driving all day, it is a horrible feeling to know you are not welcome once you arrive and have to leave. We have found that state parks, national parks, and county parks are more accommodating for dogs. If you are staying at a private park, it is extremely important that you are aware of their dog policies.
- 20 Incredibly Pet-Friendly Campgrounds
- How to Find Dog-Friendly Campgrounds
- All 62 National Parks and Their Pet Restrictions
Forgetting the Poop Bags
It has happened to every dog parent. You forget the poop bags and hope that your dog will wait to use the restroom. But then it happens and you are caught without a bag to pick up.
I learned this lesson the hard way and now make sure to pack extra poop bags in my backpack, in the RV, and in our vehicle. For those late-night emergencies, and we have a few with a senior dog, we keep some bags handy by our RV door.
Not Following Leash Laws
Leash laws are established to not only protect other campers, wildlife, and nature but to protect our dogs as well. There have been numerous times when we have been hiking with our dogs and inadvertently walked into hunting territory.
Without our dogs being leashed, they could be hurt or worse. Also, not all dogs are friendly to other dogs. It is invasive for unleashed dogs to approach other dogs uninvited.
Assuming All People Like Dogs
It was hard for me to accept when we started traveling with our dogs that not all people like dogs. We have to be respectful of others and not let our dogs approach people without an invitation.
On the other hand — or paw — we have to know that not all dogs like people, including children. When in doubt, ask. Never assume.
Not Using Vehicle Restraints
Using a seat belt harness or a dog crate while driving is always a good idea to keep your dog safe while moving in an RV. If you choose to use a crate or carrier, make sure that it is secured down, and won’t slide around on the road. Never leave your dog unattended in the RV or your tow vehicle, especially if your dog is secured. Always check to make sure they are comfortable in the restraints.
Not Taking Enough Breaks
Travel should never be a race. We all get uncomfortable on long travel days, pets included. We did not take enough breaks when we first started the RV life. Taking breaks every two hours is the goal when it comes to traveling with our dogs. Stop and take a break in a relaxing area with little or no traffic. Make breaks something to look forward to with plenty of pet accessories, and leash your dog before exiting the RV or vehicle.
Not Packing Enough Water
If you think you need to bring a gallon of water on your next trip, bring two. Hope for the best when it comes to travel days, but prepare if the worst happens. If you break down and are stranded for long periods of time, do you have enough water?
We pack a gallon per dog, and their bowls, on short travel days and two per dog on long travel days. And yes, we have had those emergencies happen and the stress of not having what you need for your dog only adds to the frustration.
Not Sticking to a Schedule
Yes, RV life should be spontaneous and fun! But if you have a dog in your family, you know that dogs thrive on a schedule. When it comes to mealtimes, try to keep your dog’s schedule the same on travel days.
Map out your route with your dog’s schedule in mind. A schedule adds to the enjoyment of their trip and their behavior is improved, which is great for everyone!
Not Respecting Your Dog’s Limits
We have a senior dog and a younger dog. Both dogs have different abilities and physical limitations. Respect these limitations, respect their individual personalities, and plan your trip activities accordingly.
Letting Your Dog in Other Campsites
The RV life is a carefree life, but so many times we see dog owners letting their dogs in other campsites without permission. Many dogs are protective of their campsite, so don’t put your dog or another dog in danger. Be respectful of the limits and boundaries of the campsite. We cannot always control where our dogs use the restroom but, if possible, try to steer them in another direction.
Not Giving Your Dog Their Own Space in the RV
Just as we all need and want our own space, so does your dog. As we have always had two dogs, we make sure that they each find their own space in the RV. They have their toys, water, and blankets as well. If you are a part-time RVer, bring some items from home. If you are a full-time RVer, make sure your dog knows their safe place.
Leaving Your Dog Unattended in Your RV for Long Periods of Time
If we travel with our dogs, chances are, we want them with us as much as possible. For the times when we must leave our dogs in the RV while we get groceries, we use the Waggle Pet Monitor so that we are aware of the temperature inside the RV, even when we are gone. It’s your responsibility to protect your pets from the heat while camping.
Campgrounds notoriously have power outages. Don’t take it for granted that your dog will be safe for long periods of time. Make sure to always lock your RV and leave plenty of water. We aim for no more than two hours away from our dogs on errand days. If you must stay gone for longer, try to come back and let your dog out for a bathroom break.
Not Carrying Your Dog’s Vet and Vaccination Records
In case of an emergency with your dog, having your dog’s health history, medication history, and vaccination records can be the difference in life or death. Many campgrounds, whether private or public, require to see your dog’s vaccination records. Carry a copy of all vet records for your dog in both your vehicle and your RV at all times!
Not Asking Other Pet Parents for Advice and Help
When we started traveling with our dogs, I did not want others to know I was inexperienced. I wish I would have asked for advice along the way! The best lessons are learned through others and their experiences. Talking to other travelers with their dogs will not only provide you information on where the best dog destinations are but help to build a community along the way.
- Dog-Friendly RV Destinations in the Northeast
- Dog-Friendly RV Destinations in the Midwest
- Dog-Friendly RV Destinations in the West
- Dog-Friendly RV Destinations in the South
RVing with Pets
If you are traveling with your dog, then it’s safe to say that you love your dog and you want to spend more time with them. My life was forever changed when we decided to travel in an RV with Brickle and Digby and now Fruitycake. We may have made many mistakes along the way, but we have also made memories I would not trade for anything.
You WILL make mistakes, but use those mistakes to make the next RV trip better. And don’t forget to live in the moment like your dog does. Brush off those mistakes and get ready to make some more. This is the life! The RV life.
What mistakes have you made when RVing with your pets? Tell us in the comments below.
Rachael Johnson and her husband Nate founded 2 Traveling Dogs in 2011. They write a daily dog blog that highlights the RV adventures of rescue dogs Peanut Butter Brickle and Digby Pancake as they travel the USA to highlight animal rescue. With over a million social media followers, they use their platforms to encourage others to adopt their pets and live the best life possible together while traveling!