Last Updated on June 11, 2021 by Lori
Are you thinking about traveling with your dog along while camping in your RV or travel trailer? We love to take our Golden Retriever Buddy camping with us! Of course, he makes friends wherever we go.
People just automatically come up to him for some friendly kisses and he absolutely loves the attention! But before you head out to your favorite campground, it’s important to make a list of everything you’ll need in order to keep your dog safe, healthy, and happy during your camping trip.
Here are our best tips for RV travel with your dog and what you need to know!
Top Things To Know If You Want To Take Your Dog Camping
When we first bought our travel trailer (be sure to read my blog post What Do You Do When Your Husband Turns 50? ) we were so excited!
And while the idea of bringing Buddy along was great – being newbie campers, I knew it was going to be stressful.
We were just getting used to hooking up the travel trailer and learning to drive the truck and trailer over major bridges like the Throgs Neck Bridge and the George Washington Bridge (which is the ONLY way to get off Long Island unless you take the ferry YIKES!)
We were also still figuring out how to back our travel trailer into our site at the campground, and finally figuring out how to set up the campsite itself.
Buddy was only two years old at the time and he was a handful as it was…
By the way, if you’ve never driven across one of the major bridges near New York City – even in a car let alone a truck and travel trailer – it’s something everyone should experience at least once!
When the driver who delivered our travel trailer from the Jayco plant in Indiana finally arrived at the dealer on eastern Long Island, she said, “I’ll Never drive here again!” THAT tells you something right there!
How To Prepare To Take Your Dog On An RV Camping Trip
It’s my job to plan all the meals for the number of days we are planning to be away, buy the food, pack the trailer, and make sure we have all the other necessities as well.
Since we’re taking Buddy with us, I need to make sure we have enough food and water for him too.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Why can’t you just buy it when you get there?”
And, a lot of campers do wait until they arrive at their campground to go to the store; but, I can tell you there were many times we were thankful we had everything we needed with us because we were far away from any grocery store, pet store or supermarket!
Here’s some information I’ve put together which I hope will help you to be prepared for your next camping trip with your favorite pooch!
Tips For RV Travel With Your Dog
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Check the Campground Policies To See If They Allow Pets
When you are looking for a campground, the first thing you need to check is whether or not they even allow dogs!
I know…I can’t believe it either. What’s better than to sit by the fire with your best friend sitting there with you in your lap or by your feet!
However, I’m hearing more and more campgrounds have instituted a “No Dog” policy.
Unfortunately, there are a few dog owners who do not clean up after their dogs, let their dogs run loose at the campground, or whose dog constantly barks which has ruined it for those of us who are responsible dog owners.
All campgrounds that allow dogs have receptacles with bags throughout the campground so there is no excuse not to pick up after your dog.
There have been a few times I’ve taken Buddy for a walk and brought two bags along when he surprises me and goes again!
Luckily, I was always near one of the receptacles so it was never a problem nor should it be for anyone else! Also, check to see if there are breed restrictions.
It’s best not to assume so check each campground’s policy BEFORE you arrive at check-in so there are no surprises.
Every campground that allows dogs requires you to have your dog’s Rabies Certificate to be with you at the campground.
Sometimes, the campground has asked me to show Buddy’s vaccination certificate at check-in, and other times they have just said to have it handy at the campsite.
One campground even wanted to see all of his vaccination records too! While this is rare, it HAS happened so I always keep an updated record with us.
ALWAYS check the Rules & Regulations about allowing dogs before booking a campground!
We keep Buddy’s vaccination records in an envelope in the truck and when we pull into the campground to check-in, it’s my job to whip out the envelope to take into check-in.
You should also make sure your dog has his license tag, rabies tag, and a tag with not only his name but your name and cell phone number as well. Buddy also is microchipped.
I have his information on my phone and the app downloaded so I can immediately let them know if for some reason he gets loose.
State Laws for Traveling With Your Dog
There are certain states that have laws about dogs riding freely in the car or truck. There are even “LAP” Laws (drivers with pets on their laps) in certain states where drivers may be charged and receive a fine for Distracted Driving.
You should always make sure to transport your dog in a safe and secure manner. Do not let them distract you while driving.
RV Travel Items For Your Dog
Dog Travel Crate
Buddy likes riding in the truck while in his Travel Crate.
When he was young, we made sure to take him for rides in the car and truck so that he would get used to car rides.
We first tried a seat belt harness – but he was not a fan. He was not the type of dog to just lay down in the back seat either and we wanted him to be safe while we were driving so we found this lightweight travel crate that fits in the back of the truck.
The crate comes in various sizes so be sure to choose the crate that fits your vehicle.
When we get set up at the campground, we move the crate from the truck and put it in the trailer where he sleeps at night. As you can see, Buddy likes to stick his head out the top so he’s right there with us.
** Update — we now have (2) two travel crates! One for the truck & one for the trailer! Now we don’t have to carry the one out of the truck and into the trailer!
The N2N Indoor/Outdoor Soft Crate sets up in seconds and is so lightweight.
We like it because it is washable and has a top, front and side entry doors. Plus, we can fold it up in a flash! We also like this soft crate because it comes in different sizes – 21 inches, 26 inches, 30 inches, 36 inches, and 42 inches.
As I mentioned above, we purchased a second one so that we can just keep one in the trailer and one in the truck!
My mom has the same crate (only smaller) for her dog too! They have a fifth-wheel trailer and travel south for the winter. You can see a picture of my dad and their trailer in the story What Do You Do When Your Husband Turns 50 – Buy A Travel Trailer!
Dog Seat Belt Harness
When I was first looking for a seat belt harness to try with Buddy, I found that the Kurgo Tru-Fit Crash Tested Dog Harness was one to consider. It received many good reviews and was crash-tested for dogs up to 75 lbs.
Because Buddy is so strong…and let me tell you…my family can tell you a story about how Buddy sent me flying at a campground when we were packing up…O.K….here it is quick…
We were packing up at a campground in New Hampshire. My husband and son were pulling out the levelers and we were almost ready to go.
I took Buddy off the stake and didn’t have his Gentle Leader on but thought I could handle him. All I said was, “Let’s go Buddy!” and he knew it was time to go!
He saw the truck door open and his crate so he took off for the truck and jumped into his crate! I was trying to keep up but he was too fast and too strong!!
I went flying through the air landing on my stomach. Somehow, during my mid-air flight, I was able to let go of the leash!
As I struggled to my feet, my husband and son looked at me and it was ALL they could do to keep from bursting out laughing! Thank goodness I wasn’t hurt – just dirt all over my shirt and face!
But there was Buddy waiting for us in his crate to go home! To this day my family has a great time telling the story of me Flying Through The Air!
Moral of the story? Put on Buddy’s Gentle Leader!
Anyway, back to what I wanted to tell you about. You can see above that we use a Gentle Leader when we walk with Buddy.
We tried every harness there was and had seen other trainers use this method to train guide dogs so I knew it must work. I can’t tell you the immediate difference the Gentle Leader made!
I couldn’t believe it! I purchased the one with the DVD so I could make sure I used it properly.
It looks small, but it makes a world of difference! Buddy doesn’t pull us down the street or around the campground anymore! He even knows to put his nose through and we’re on our walk. He doesn’t mind it a bit!
We use this stake to attach Buddy’s leash to when we are at the campground. This stake works well because it’s for “hard ground” and believe me – you find some hard ground at campgrounds!
We bring along a hook to attach his leash to the stake. It’s the first thing my husband does after pulling into the site – grab the stake and get it into the ground.
Then 1-2-3 Buddy is safe while we set up camp!
First, you should check with your campsite to see if pens and crates are allowed at the campground.
If so, then the pen shown below works well because it is so portable, it folds flat and comes in various sizes. Buddy was crate trained since he was little.
He loves his crate and simply goes inside on his own (see the door open below).
Since he’s only three and still in that “chewing phase,” we don’t let him roam around the house when we’re not home.
My husband used the exercise pen to give him a lot more room outside of the crate. You can make the pen any size depending on your space.
It works great and Buddy has so much more room than just his crate!
Here’s the exercise pen we have that is shown above. We like this one because it has a step-through door, is easy to set up and folds down flat when we travel.
My husband attached it right to Buddy’s crate. We like this crate because you can get it either with a single door or double door. It also folds flat which makes easy to move around.
Finally… Remember the other necessities that your dog will need.
Water – I suggest bringing water with you to avoid any stomach problems for your dog.
Only one time did Buddy have stomach problems during a trip and it was the one and only time he drank water from the campground.
It was only later that I realized why he probably got sick.
Food – Bring all your dog’s food with you.
I put Buddy’s food into Tupper Ware bowls to keep any little critters out of his food!
Toys – I keep Buddy’s toys handy in the truck to keep him occupied. When he gets tired of one toy, I give him the next!
Related Reading: You might be interested in the post I put together Best Dog Chews & Dog Toys For Heavy Chewers
Here’s one of his favorite balls he likes to carry around.
Bags – For picking up after your doggie.
Medicine – Be sure to bring along any medications your dog may be on.
Favorite Bed/Blanket – Buddy has gone through so many beds that we’ve found he just likes a simple towel on the floor.
One Day he LOVES his bed!
And the next day he doesn’t…
He loves his towels…
Well, I’ll keep you updated if there are any new items we find we need for Buddy this camping season.
In the meantime, what are some of your “Must Haves” when camping with your dog?
Loved this article. Great suggestions. My husband & I are getting ready to travel, blog and take our dog. Buddy looks so happy!
Thank you! He loves going with us. You’re going to love it. Safe travels!
Reflective collars are a must have for our pups to keep them visible at night.
Buddy is a beautiful pup! We love taking our two camping! They love the car ride and exploring!
What d you do if you stop at an attraction that does allow dogs and you are between camping sites and its very hot (over 90 outside). We are in a tent trailer now but thinking about changing to an RV so we can let them stay in it. Will this work?
Thanks for stopping by! We have a travel trailer and always take Buddy with us in the truck when we leave the campground. If we do leave him in the trailer at the campground it’s for a very short amount of time to maybe run to the store and then we leave the AC on for him. We are not full-time RVers, so if we know the attractions we want to see will take us away from the campsite for long periods of time such as our trip to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, we leave him at home. We knew that the things we wanted to do and see such as taking the Cog Railway to the top of Mount Washington, as well as other attractions, were an hour away from the campground and none of them allowed dogs so we left him at home with family. You also have to check the campground rules because some campgrounds won’t allow you to leave your pets unattended. I can’t comment on your situation but I will tell you we rarely leave Buddy alone in the trailer. Safe Travels and Happy Camping!
What we have done with our dog when visiting an attraction such has the Viking station (included a tour then went to a restaurant to eat). We placed our dog in doggie daycare for half a day (this was planned ahead of time). Another time we gave her a spa day at the pet store (3 hours). We were lucky to get her in the same day. Placed a request in the morning and was able to bring her in, in the afternoon.
This allowed us to visit the attractions without worries.
The daycare was awesome as she got to socialize with other dogs and was tired that night.
Hi Susan! Yes! Those are great ideas! I’ll be she was tired playing with the other dogs. Doggie daycamps are a great idea if you’re traveling – but, as you mentioned, you have to plan ahead and make a reservation as they are usually booked well in advance. Thanks for stopping by!
We always have a headlamp for the human and a reflective coat and blinking light for our furbaby. That way we are easily seen walking at night.
Hi Claire! That is a great tip! Campgrounds are for the most part VERY dark at night! Having a reflective coat and blinking light for your furbaby is a great idea plus a lot of campers have the headlamp which keeps their hands free! Thanks for stopping by and Happy Camping!
Hi Lori and Tom,
I bumped into your site and absolutely love how you, Tom and Buddy are seeing the country. As soon as I can retire from this big rig truck, I can slow down and enjoy the country as you guys do! My golden, Whisper, travels with me as well. She is an absolute joy to travel with. I did a double-take when I saw Buddy’s head poking out of his sof krate; I thought that my Whisper had jumped out of her krate and into yours lol! When Whisper was much younger, I purchased a cooling mat for her krate. It went well for one day. The next morning, her cooling mat looked identical to Buddy’s bed after he made a snack out of it. Too funny! Both of you keep on enjoying your travels and hug Buddy close. Our Goldens are just the best and I know that we wouldn’t travel one mile without them. You’ve both got something really special going on with journaling your travels and sharing your experiences with the rest of us. Thank-you!
Hi Wesley! Thanks for stopping by and telling us about Whisper! I saw your photos of Whisper and he does look just like Buddy in his soft crate! He is so cute! We had a black lab for 16 years and thought she couldn’t be replaced – until we got Buddy. Goldens are special dogs and we love traveling with him. I love how you have Whisper’s crate right by you in your truck cab. Thanks for your funny story about the cooling mat and Safe Travels to you & Whisper!
Just starting camping after hubby and I retired. The camping checklist will be very helpful and many things I didn’t know . We will be taking our senior jack russell with us also, so this article/list was great.
Hi Debbie! Congratulations on retirement! I hope the camping checklist is helpful and you will love being able to travel with your dog! Lots of luck on your travel adventures!
Great Tips! Your flying through the air made me laugh but I so felt for you. For some reason falling hurts so much more when you are an adult.