Tips for Traveling with Dogs in an RV

One of the best parts of owning an RV is that we can take our pet boxer dog, Harley, with us. In fact, in the last two years Harley’s RV travels have covered 15 states, plus stops in Mexico and Canada. And he’s certainly not done yet!

Our fifth wheel trailer has become a home on wheels for Harley, just like it has for us. And along the way, we’ve learned a few tricks to making our travels happy ones for all of us.

traveling with pets

Managing Pet Anxiety

Even although we provided his dog bed, toys, and familiar food bowl, initially Harley was a bit nervous in the RV. As rigs are often parked quite closely together at a campground, we often hear conversations, noises, etc. of our neighbors coming and going – something he was not used to in his home environment. We still have to work with him to stop barking and growling when fellow campers cross into what he considers “his” territory, but his anxiety is beginning to subside.

He still gets quite nervous when we start packing up the RV to move on to another destination. We solved that problem early on… we just put him in the truck while we go through the process of hooking up the trailer, cleaning up, dumping, etc. He’s so happy just to sit (naturally in the front seat!) and watch what’s going on, definitely reassured that he won’t be left behind. Another bonus: we don’t have to worry about his whereabouts while we’re focusing on our chores associated with moving out.

Related blog: Traveling with Pets in Your RV: Things to Consider

traveling with pets

Leash Laws

All the parks we’ve been to have very strict leash laws – understandably so. We keep Harley on a leash on his walks in the parks, but we did purchase a longer cable which we use to tie him up if we’re all sitting outside the rig. We also got him his own folding mesh dog bed, so he has a comfortable place to nap outside and still be with us. And we carry lots of baggies – need I say more?

traveling with pets

Activities with Dogs

When we’re on the road, many of our activities are planned around Harley and where we can take him. More and more places are becoming pet friendly, but dogs are still prohibited from many of the trails in most National Parks. Many of the state and local parks where we’ve hiked have been much more accommodating. If we are going out to a restaurant, we try to find one that allows pets, which usually means we sit outside. If he’s not welcome at a store or attraction, we take turns remaining outside with him. Bottom line – we try not to leave him in the truck for extended periods of time.

If we are going to a destination or event that is not appropriate for dogs, we will leave him in the trailer, but only if we can be assured he has plenty of water and if necessary air conditioning which of course requires functioning electric hookups. He’s secure in his home with lots of familiar smells, and of course a big bed all to himself.

RV traveling with pets

Health & Safety

We keep his vaccinations current and he wears a dog tag with our cell phone numbers on it rather than the home number, so if he should get lost we can be reached wherever we may be. (Thank goodness this hasn’t happened yet!) We travel with an international certificate of good health which we understood he would need to cross into Mexico and/or Canada. So far, we’ve only been asked for that paperwork once – by US authorities when we returned from Canada.

Harley’s joy of RV travel is most clearly exhibited when we arrive at a destination. He leaps out of the truck and bounds into the fifth wheel, as if to say “I’m home!” And his companionship on our adventures has made them so much more enjoyable.

For us, RV travel and our pet do mix, and we all love every minute.

What’s been your experience with RV travel and pets? Let us know in the comments.

traveling with pets free download


About the Author: A familiar name to many RVers, Sue Bray has worked in the RV industry for 35+ years. Over the summers, Sue, her husband Mel, and their boxer Harley take off to tour the country in their 31’ fifth wheel, with no exact plans except to have an adventure. She chronicles their travels as well as lessons learned along the way in an ongoing blog series at RV Repair Club called On the Road with Sue.

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16 Responses to “Tips for Traveling with Dogs in an RV”

  1. Barry Pidwell

    We are just restarting rving with our two dogs, a golden retriever and a vizsla. They both seem to like it. The vizsla just loves being with us so is fine where ever we go, she is 4 yrs old and the retriever who is 8 yrs old is not a great traveller but does not mind,going in the trailer. The last trip we done was in October and we finally got her to relax, in the truck, on the last day out which hopefully is a sign of many more trips to come.

  2. Barb

    Wondered in regard to pets left in RV while out. What type of temperature monitor do people use to make sure the AC is always working.

  3. James stanionis

    My deceased dog Murphy load to go for car truck rides he enjoyed the ride coming back from Raleigh North Carolina to Colorado with me in the RV he died the following spring due to lymph node issues for breathing right now I am looking for another dog

  4. Skip & Terry Kelly

    Hi Sue...Just read your article on dogs while RVing and couldn't agree more. We have 2 older ankle sharks and while there are issues at times, they are a world of enjoyment! We too have been over Loveland as well and pulled our last ( and a bit shorter)TT over Beartooth Pass (11,000') from the Red Lodge side...and that was a challenge! We have a 4-door truck and the "kids" have never gotten carsick while riding...a real plus! I dialed your website into my favorites and will look it over. Thank you! S

  5. Marianne

    Just a few more tips with traveling with dogs. I travel with 4. 2 service dogs and 2 little dogs. I am also a former California State Humane Officer and vet tech. Make sure your dogs are microchipped and the chip is registered with your current phone numbers. If your dog becomes lost or stolen, the chip is the only proof you own your dog. Most times when the a dog is found, it ends up at the shelter and the staff will scan your dog so it is very important your phone numbers are correct on the chip. Also, for us, we use exercise pens around our RV door. So if they should run out they are contained. It is nice to sit outside of our RV when the weather is nice and they can lounge on the rug and no chance to run out or if a dog gets loose in the RV park, they can not make contact with each other. Since we workcamp and are gone up to 4 hours, I have a pet peeps pet camera. I can see and talk to my dogs, check the RV temperature as I installed a larger thermometer so I can see it. I tied red ribbons on our A/C vent so I can see if the AC is working. It gives me so much piece of mind. I do close all of the blinds and leave the TV on for them. I have a walk through baby gate on the stairs and the 2 littles stay up there and the 2 big ones lay on the couch and usually all of them sleep while we are gone. I have a 3 ring binder with all of their health information and vet records with me. I have a copy of their rabies vaccinations in my phone in my photos for quick access. I have a lockbox that hangs on my exercise (xpen) with the RV key that I tell my trusted neighbors to open it and let the dogs out in case of emergency. Open the lockbox and get the key.The lockbox isn't locked. I do keep their leashes on them so they can be caught easily. I do have a great checklist of what you should have on hand for your pets that I share on other websites such as canned pumpkin etc. for your pets. :)

  6. Raymond

    The front cap is now terribly faded. Have others had a similar experience with the paint oxidizing?

  7. Michael

    Just purchased 2 months ago and already in the shop for repairs. It has been there about 10 days now waiting on parts. Not happy. Have a 7 month old staffordshire Terrier terrified to ride gets car sick. We are still home now and glad. I am new to RVing and have to learn everything as I go.

  8. Darryl

    Do you have any videos on fibreglass repair?

  9. Patricia Sherman

    I agree about the collar and tag, but you also need something that will not "Fall Off" like a collar or tag. Microchip is the way of things now. It can be scanned and the company will call you! Look into it.

  10. Neal Stockheimer

    We take are two dogs and are cat camping the cat rides on the bed the German Shepherd rides on the couch The little dog rides in my wife lap