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RV Traveling with dogs

| Updated Aug 24, 2013

RV traveling with dogs adds to the fun and adventure but comes with its own challenges.

One of the main reasons people buy RVs is because they like to travel with their dogs.

But the fact is, not all places are dog-friendly. If you want to bring your pooch along, you need to make some adjustments.

On our big RVing Family Vacation a few years ago out west, we traveled with six adults, two kids, and three dogs.

Meet the Dogs


You need to understand, our dogs are big dogs. Their heads are the size of most other RVer's pets.

The lightest among them is my Norwegian Elkhound, Tai. He weighs 70 pounds.

Next was my daughter Wendy's Goldendoodle, Charlie, at 75 pounds.

Then came my son Jeff's part St Barnard and husky, Sequoia, who weighs 120 pounds.

Things to Consider When RV Traveling with Dogs

RV traveling with dogs is still a challenge even with small dogs. So you'll want to keep the following in mind before you hit the road.

Naptime while dog sitting at Mesa Verde National park

Be Aware of Dog Restrictions

We went everywhere we wanted to go but we encountered several places – usually in National Parks – where dogs were not allowed. That required some dog juggling. One of us would usually volunteer to get dog duty, staying back at the camp or in the RV watching the dogs while the others went sightseeing.

RV traveling with dogs
Top to bottom – Tai, Sequoia, and Charley in our RV

Most typically, dogs are not allowed on hiking trails that would put them near wildlife. Dogs are naturally protective of their people. So are animals of their young. If a dog spots a mama bear on a hike, it's going to bark and growl. That only antagonizes the bear. So you can see why the Park Service has that rule.

Still, there were several places, even a couple of trails, where dogs could go. They can be walked around the campsites, on the main roads and in parking lots and we never were at a loss about where to walk the dogs.

Most beaches prohibit dogs. Most, but not all. We have found several beaches in our travels with Tai this year where dogs are allowed near the water. Usually, if you ask around at the campground, you'll learn that almost every community has a no-leash dog park, often with water access for the pups to play.

This is me and Tai on a Lake Superior Beach in Michigan's Upper Peninsula earlier this summer. Lots of wild beach stretches are open for dogs.

Be Considerate of Others & Nature

The dogs are also people magnets. Almost everywhere we went on our family vacation, people flocked to meet the dogs.

Not everyone likes dogs, however. At Rocky Mountain National Park, my daughter had Charlie on a leash at one of the overlooks, where dogs are permitted. A loud-mouthed woman in a passing car rolled down the window and screamed at the top of her lungs, “No dogs allowed.” That was not true. Dogs are allowed in most of the public areas, just not on the backwoods hiking trails.

Tai was a people and kid magnet

It is easy to understand why some people are upset about seeing dogs. Just look around at the ground in rest areas and campgrounds and you'll see the reason. Dog poop.

Inconsiderate dog owners – slobs – who refuse to pick up their pet's waste. We always travel with a plastic bag in our pockets and we always clean up after our dogs. But so many pet owners don't. And that gives all dogs a bad name.

We also always keep our dogs on leashes or, at the campground, tied on ropes. Sequoia and Tai are pretty calm. But they will gladly chase a deer if it passes by. Charlie is a barker and there were many times when we put him in time out because he was too excited by all the people walking past. We also kept him inside my daughter's trailer until late morning, so he didn't wake other campers with his excited yips and barks.

Charlie and Tai underneath the travel trailer

Keep Dogs Cool

The sun is a big issue for dogs. They sweat only through their mouths and they always need shade. At camp, even on cloudy days, we extended awnings to give them a cool place, always with a bowl of water close by. Tai and Charlie liked to hang out under the trailer. Sequoia preferred the shade of a tree. Dogs are social animals and they like to be around their people, their pack.

wendy tai
Wendy and Jennifer walking Charlie and Tai at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, where dogs are allowed on the trail

We also used the RV as a big dog kennel. Our RV is fine for Jennifer and me and Tai. But add Sequoia and Charlie and the aisle got pretty crowded. The dogs didn't mind because the air conditioning kept things comfortable. We never left an animal in the RV without a human tender. Can you imagine how horribly hot and dangerous it would be inside an RV if the AC stopped working?

Dogs are also prohibited from most stores and buildings. When shopping, we'd leave the dogs with one person for a few minutes. Then someone else would change places, so we all could shop and the dogs always had a human with them.

Jeff with all three dogs, giving them an exercise break in a Walmart Parking lot in Montrose, CO

Take Breaks

Like people, dogs need breaks from long driving down the interstate. But be aware of where you walk them in rest areas. Dogs are often prohibited in picnic areas, again, because of the inconsiderate actions of those who don't clean up after their animals.

Be careful where you walk them. In the west and south, poisonous snakes are often in the underbrush just past the green grass.

Ticks are also a problem in spring and early summer. In February, Tai picked up two ticks from a five-minute walk in a per exercise area at a rest stop along I-75 in Tennessee. When RV traveling with dogs, you'll want to know how to keep ticks off dogs.

Your Tips for RV Traveling with Dogs

Those are some of my observations after a couple of seasons of RV traveling with dogs. How about you? What tips can you suggest? Use comments below.

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RV Traveling with dogs 1

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2013-08-24

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

45 Responses to “RV Traveling with dogs”

May 29, 2017at11:03 am, victoriapennock said:

In this day and age of being able to monitor everything from opening and closing of doors and windows at your house, temperature, etc. I wonder why someone hasn’t invented a device that you can plug into your outlet inside your camper that alerts you if the power goes out via a text. That would be not only for the safety of your animals, should you want to use a real shower once in awhile, but for the safety of the contents of your refrigerator.

March 29, 2015at9:52 pm, Minneapolis Musician said:

Please put Tai on a diet. His obesity is likely going to shorten his life. You know that. We, too had a really fat dog, our fault, and used a prescription diet food from our vet and got our Golden back into healthy shape. And he enjoyed the food, too.

September 01, 2014at12:09 am, Judi Culver said:

Please don’t tell that 3 is a problem.. :o(
I am ready to hit the road & have 3 doodles…48-90 lbs. :o(
PS- your doggies are adorable!

August 29, 2014at11:20 am, Janice Atkinson said:

That is one FAT Norwegian Elkhound! Still, so adorable 🙂

August 28, 2014at9:53 am, Annie Niece Mike Clevenger said:

We travel with our two furkids. Last year we went to WDW. On the days we were in the Parks all day, we put them in doggy day care at Best Friends Kennels on the property
It was a bit pricey but so worth it. We didn’t have to worry about them, they were walked and fed
Got playtime and didn’t worry about the a/c. The place is insulated so you can’t hear thunder or fireworks inside…important when you have a ‘fraud dog. And we relaxed, enjoyed the parks and could stay all day. I highly recommend taking advantage of these types of facilities when available.

August 28, 2014at1:23 am, Joshua Simpson said:

That’s such a cute baby seal!

August 27, 2014at5:11 pm, Carl F Varriale said:

That one dog looks like its been hitting the all you can eat buffet

August 27, 2014at4:10 pm, Susan Rathburn said:

That’s where our dog hangs out.

August 27, 2014at1:39 pm, April said:

Good article and beautiful dogs! We also have large dogs. As others have said, we avoid National Parks (which is really sad, actually) and frequent National Forests instead. The occasions we have driven inside National Parks we have found that we can’t even let the dog out of the car to stretch his legs without comments and people upset with us – we had a ranger tell us to put the dogs (on leash) back into the car, they weren’t welcome (and we hadn’t even approached the trail). Even RV Parks that claim to be dog friendly aren’t always. We keep our dogs tied up if outside and one RV Park employer recently accused our dog of getting into her trash and strewing it all over and said she had “half a mind to kick us out!” (In front of my children (ages 6 and 9), who were then upset we were going to get “kicked out”.) I know others don’t know a specific dog’s behavior, but not only was she on leash the entire time, but getting into trash isn’t in her nature. Anyways, like you said, one of the reasons we bought our trailer was to vacation with our family – which includes dogs. It has NOT been as friendly as we expected it would be.

August 27, 2014at1:31 pm, Wendy Mumford Rydberg said:

My biggest problem has been finding campgrounds that will allow 3 big friendly dogs. Mine are well behaved & I clean up after them but way to many places have amount & size limitations. I won’t get in to breed discrimination & no none of mine are pits

August 27, 2014at1:19 pm, Sarah Bettuchy Clark said:

An excellent resource is They live and travel in an RV full time focussing on pet friendly living.

August 27, 2014at11:35 am, Life In 33ft said:

Great article, most places we see RV’ers all have dogs. We have a old Lab mix who is starting to have senior dog issues. We have found folks living this lifestyle, are on the majority, dog lovers!

July 15, 2014at10:07 am, Gary Peckett said:

Another benefit of taking you dog(s) RVing is it gives you a good reason to stop and stretch your legs and shake the cobwebs from you mind. Stopping to allow the dogs the opportunity to do their business also gives the people a chance to get out of what could be a tiring long drive. It’s a good way to avoid falling asleep at the wheel. We usually stop at a rest stop for a 15 minute break every 2 to 3 hours. Its good for the dogs and good for the people.

July 14, 2014at9:17 am, Marion Pratt said:

I found a great dog park finder app; it knows where you are and pinpoints where the local dog parks are, and then provides links to information about each. Find it at Has helped immensely as I travel with my golden retriever, Gabi, and her buddy, Jack, a border collie mix.

March 02, 2014at1:50 am, Skip Radau said:

I’m new to RVing and I would appreciate some advice. I have a pickup truck with a camper shell and will purchase an Oliver travel trailer soon. I will be traveling by myself, so doing so with my three 60 pound mutt dogs sounds difficult at best. The truck’s camper shell has a sliding wire screen that allows my three dogs to stick their heads out. I’m hoping to stay near the coast during the hottest summer days (ave July hi around 70F). Will it be safe&legal to leave them in the truck when going to a store for food? My home base is in Tucson, so leaving your dogs in a car during the summer would very quickly become deadly (and illegal in Tucson). When I’m in the boonies I hope to leave them in the truck when sleeping since I don’t know if there is enough room for them in the Oliver. Does that sounds like a decent plan?

February 15, 2014at5:32 pm, Charles Slate said:

We travel with three cockers in a Armada towing a TT and we always have our babies secured with a harness system in the back seat. Not only does it keep them in place with a sudden stop, but if you are in an accident and a door opens they can’t run away, or jump out during a police stop or other emergency. Also during slow speed rides the two by the window can hang out a bit without jumping or falling. We also have the add on screen room for the trailer to give everyone more space, great for rainy days. Looking for a similar solution when we upgrade to a RT!

August 27, 2013at4:00 pm, Doug Braddock said:

For years we traveled around Alaska with two big dogs (Husky mixes) in our 2000 190P Roadtrek. We liked it so much we added a third dog! See the photos at

I don’t have any words of wisdom that haven’t already been said. The only difficult circumstance was camping in the rain, when all three dogs and the two of us wanted to be inside. I partially solved this problem by carrying a screen house tent with a rainfly. The dogs could spend some time outside without being bothered by rain (or bugs!). The awning, of course, also works (but without the bug protection).

August 26, 2013at1:22 pm, Pam Hicks said:

Thanks for this, Mike. I would like to mention that not only is it important to secure a dog in a vehicle for safety reasons, but it is the law now in some states – New Jersey being one of them. And I love, love, love your system for a human handler with the dogs at all times – I strongly believe that that is the way it needs to be. The only time I leave my two Yorkies in the van unattended is if it is within sight (like when I may be in a restaurant) & the weather is cool enough to leave some windows cracked open & the ceiling fan on. I get worried when I read about some RVers who want to make the dog fit into their schedule, when really, if one chooses to travel with dogs, their needs & safety must always be considered. My little gal & guy travel in a great soft crate that is a perfect fit on the third seat (Creature Leisure: . And, I hate to mention it, but dogs, especially the smaller ones, are targets for theft.

August 26, 2013at12:40 pm, Debbie said:

We always used bottled water for our pets while traveling too. Sometimes the change in water could give them soft or runny stools.

August 26, 2013at12:23 pm, Sue said:

Like Annie, I have a harness that clips to the seat belt and Preston, my cairn terrier rides shotgun but belted for safety.

Another concern when traveling with a dog (s) is food. Depending on what your pet eats and how much, you need to ensure you have enough storage space and can purchase what they need for however long you will be away from shopping areas. Especially with dogs that have allergies and are on special diets, making sure their food requirements are met is necessary, so plan ahead. Also, make sure you carry enough of their medicines if this applies.

August 26, 2013at12:20 pm, Susan said:

There are temperature alarms that will call your cell phone when the temperature goes above a certain temperature that you program in. This way if the ac quits and the temp gets to lets say 80 degrees in the RV, you will be notified. I don’t have my RV yet but I know of quite a few dog show people who have these devices. No doubt I will have one. My dogs are like my kids!!

August 26, 2013at11:16 am, Jim Burwell said:

Love your email newsletters. Since I’m a dog trainer, I like your emails about traveling with your dogs. Here’s a great website to parallel with your travels w/dogs. It lists all the “approved” parks/forests that allow dogs and don’t allow dogs:

Keep on writing & traveling!

August 25, 2013at10:24 am, JJ (RV Toadless) said:

I’m glad you had someone “dog sit.” I, too, always fear the A/C may quit working. I travel with a cat. There have been a few times I have gone site seeing and my RV was in the parking lot of some tourist thing, it was hot, so I opened all the upper vents, turned on the fans, and put an ice bag in my cat’s bed.

August 24, 2013at11:56 pm, peter dempsey said:

Great article Mike. I have never disliked a person that I met at the other end of the leash. Just had my “66” birthday so picked up my first RV, not a trek, but a 25 year classic. At 22 feet, not much room for Carm (wife), Kody (Belgian Sheepdog), Arvee & Jasper (Carm’s cats), but we did 2400 miles in 14 days. You may enjoy reading about our experience in “Kody’s Biscuits: The Adventures of Peter & Kody” at
Keep safe out there and keep the blog stories coming.

August 24, 2013at11:04 pm, Linda J Lowitz said:

We always travel with our two dogs, a Sheltie (20 lbs) and a German Shepard/Husky cross (60 lbs). We carry a collapsable large wire dog kennel in our 22 ft RV. Instead of tying the dogs to trees etc we can put them in the kennel together with water and place it where there is shade. This way they do not get leashes/ropes tangled, they are off the ground and yet can see everything going on.
For our dog sitter we ofter travel with my 84 year old mother. You can put her and the dogs with water at any trailhead and go for a walk. As you mentioned the dogs encourage people to stop and talk and my Mom always has lots of stories to tell us when we get back from our hike.

May 30, 2014at2:36 pm, Lori said:

Hi, I saw your post about traveling with dogs. We are getting ready to do a long trip with our two border collies. You mention a large wire crate. Do you recall what brand it is/how big it is? Is the one crate large enough for both your dogs? I presume they don’t try to jump out? Thank you!

August 24, 2013at9:11 pm, Maureen said:

For anybody traveling to Canada and, in particular, British Columbia, here is a site which has info on dog parks on the mainland, Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands and the interior of BC. You will see there is info for all provinces in Canada. I walk my dogs every day off leash below the tideline on a beach and have never been ticketed yet.

August 24, 2013at3:36 pm, Ann Valus said:

Cape San Blas and Saint George Island near Apalachacola on the Florida panhandle have two of the most beautiful beaches in the US and they are both dog friendly…very rare in Florida. Both have state parks that allow dogs in the campgrounds, but not on the state park beaches, but dogs are allowed on the beaches just outside the state parks. In our experience, people are very good about picking up after their dogs on the beaches. We have a 65 pound dog. We had planned to travel harness him to the rear sofa seat belt in the RT, but he wants to be in front with us. We use a travel harness attached to a short leash and loop the handle through the passenger side seatbelt. That way, he is restrained from becoming a projectile, but still can lie up front with us. This has worked fine for us so far.

August 24, 2013at3:13 pm, Jody said:

We travel with two whippets. We use a tie-out for each of them while we camp. We have a kennel for each of them for when we have to go somewhere without them. We don’t have a Class B but rather a pickup and camper. They travel on the back seat. We are currently looking for a doggie seatbelt that will fit a whippet – they are built differently than most dogs. I wanted to mention though that almost all of the wineries in the Fingerlakes of New York that we visited recently allowed dogs inside the winery (not just on an outdoor patio). This was great as we could enjoy ourselves and still be with our boys! Wish there were more beaches that allowed dogs. We’ve only found a couple: East Harbor State Park, Marblehead, Ohio has a portion that allows dogs; and Geneva State Park, Geneva, Ohio also has a portion that allows dogs. We couldn’t find any during our recent visit to western Michigan.

August 24, 2013at2:44 pm, Rob Rupp said:

Appreciate that you are responsible and always keep someone behind to tend to the dogs in your RV. The only time we would leave our beloved Sheppard alone in the RV was when the weather was nice and windows could be opened and we could park far enough away to ensure she did not bark in proximity to other campers. We use the Maxxaire window vents in our RV to ensure our dog gets good cross ventilation and also the 12V Endless Breeze portable fan to provide direct ventilation.

August 24, 2013at2:25 pm, Bob said:

We have an Elkhound also. He sleeps and rides up between the front seats of our Sprinter ERA.
We’ve never had anyone hollar at us, or even mention the no dogs rule, and that’s probably because we don’t take him where he’s not supposed to be, and always, always pick up after him.
He is for sure a people magnet….

August 24, 2013at2:25 pm, Linda Rose said:

I have 3 Chihuahuas that travel with me. When driving they are in a crate the just fits between the two front seats. 3 inch thick dog bed in the bottom. Keeps them safer and also keeps them from being a distraction when I’m driving. We stop at least every two hours for a break, a drink and a walk. I always have poop bags in my pocket. Found a couple in the dryer the other day. (unused ones of course)

August 24, 2013at2:12 pm, Serena said:

We travel w our dogs and have found bringing along an x-pen (metal exercise pen) is invaluable. We set it up on our mat outside the door. If the awning can be out it shades them or we clip a big sheet at one end to provide shade. This keeps them contained w out having to be tied up. Don’t forget to always provide water too!

August 24, 2013at1:46 pm, Maureen said:

Great info…I too have two dogs, D’Asher, rescued from the northern snows at 4 months old and looks like a small border collie with a sptiz face, and Izzie, a Havanese/Maltese cross. As I have done agility with them in the past they are used to traveling in crates that collapse easily and they do feel secure there. However, on long drives I would like to be able to give them more freedom so thanks for the info…I really don’t want any flying dogs coming my way, for my safety and their safety. Looking forward to what other dog lovers do while traveling with their pets.

August 24, 2013at12:08 pm, Judi Darin said:

My dog Koka loves to travel in my Trek. As soon as I start loading things for a trip she gets very excited, and although I have not yet left her behind, she acts as though she doesn’t want to be forgotten – following so close on my heels that I sometimes trip over her. Actually, I put her to work when we reach our campsite. I put her on a leash and walk her around the perimeter of our campsite a few times, and I do this every morning and evening for a few days. This seems to give her a sense of our boundaries, and she doesn’t bark unless someone intrudes into our space. One time she began barking like crazy while we were both inside and I was fixing dinner. I looked outside and there were several children playing chase and running back and forth through our campsite, leaping over the fire pit. Thank goodness I had not started the fire yet! I found the parents and we had a little chat…

August 24, 2013at12:08 pm, Annie said:

We have traveled for many years in a Class B RV with both large and small dogs. There is nothing more aggravating than stepping in someone else’s dog poop while cleaning up our own! And as others have said–it gives us all a bad name. That and leaving dogs alone to bark all day in a campground. But most folks are considerate and dogs have always led us to meeting some great people and fabulous dogs. One thing I would like to share is concerning restraining dogs while traveling. We had a close call one day and ended up with our 2 large dogs being thrown forward–one under the dash and the other striking me inthe head as he was tossed into the windshield. No serious damage done to any of us but that led me to researching restraints for the dogs. We now use a system that hooks into the passenger seatbelt and clips to a harness on the dog. No modifications are required and this has proved to be a safe and very useful system. Just google dog seatbelt and you will find many options to choose from. It also prevents a dog from leaping out of the vehicle unexpectedly. We all know our dogs are so well trained they would never do that…………;) happy camping!

August 24, 2013at11:16 am, John shad said:

I haven’t started out and medially not sure I can handle everything… but bought RV (Travel Trailor) and expecting to leave MN for various locations very soon with my 6 yr old German Shepherd as second in command.

August 26, 2013at11:31 am, carol said:

Hello John,
I like you want to travel, I am alone and would be with my dog also.
Do you know where you are headed right now?
Just happened to read this and decided to write.

August 24, 2013at10:13 am, Mike Wendland said:

They are not restrained. Tai lies on the floor in the space between the driver and passenger, where he figures he can get the most pets while we’re driving.
We bring his dog bed and put it there for him to sleep at night.

August 24, 2013at10:09 am, Barbara K said:

Thanks for this, Mike. Very useful!!!

Do your dogs travel loose in the RV or do you tie them down somehow?

I get so annoyed when people don’t pick up after their dogs. I agree it gives all of us a bad name. I often pick up for other people’s dogs. After all it is possible to get distracted and not notice one’s dog has pooped. I hope other people will do it for me 🙂

August 24, 2013at9:59 am, Lori said:

I am getting ready to head out on an adventure in my class B. I will be travelling around Canada and the USA to research
the business of dogs.
I have 3 Dachshunds and 1 German Shepherd. I will be blogging about my trip and what I learn.

August 27, 2013at12:32 pm, Dody Dunning said:

I travel in a 10 ft Roadtrek with 3 adult Labradors. The dogs are well behaved and I’m very conscientious about cleaning up after them. While traveling they’re confined to the sleeping area with a baby gate. The main problem is exercise. They’re steady off lead, even among wildlife, but parks assume they’re not so they can’t do much. I generally avoid national parks which are dog unfriendly. If I’m going to spend some time in an area I ask around for off lead exercise areas. Another major problem is keeping them cool in the RT, while traveling and when camped.

August 27, 2013at12:41 pm, Dody Dunning said:

Oops! Typo: my RT02C200P is 20 ft long, not 10! I had an accident which threw one of the dogs forward thru the baby gate, but it slowed her enough that nobody was hurt. I have a DC powered, rotating fan in the rear where they hang out with traveling. The youngest is in a soft crate.

August 24, 2013at9:52 am, t said:

Dogs are welcome at ocean beaches along the Washington and Oregon Coasts, with a very few exceptions…I think the exception is Seaside, Oregon. But yeah, if you RV with your dog, National FORESTS, rather than National Parks are the best bet.

August 24, 2013at2:17 pm, Linda Rose said:

Last year when I was in Seaside there were lots of dogs on the beach.

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