Janae while RVing with her dog, Cap

Thinking of taking Fido along on your next great outdoor adventure? There are some things to consider before you pack up and go. Thankfully, Janae McCormick of Adventures With TuckNae is a seasoned full-time RVer who is accustomed to traveling with her two dogs in tow. She even raised them from puppyhood with her husband in their RV! Follow the helpful tips and tricks outlined by Janae below to have a successful and comfortable experience while traveling with your canine companions.

10 Tips for RVing With Dogs

by Janae McCormick of Adventures With TuckNae

Hi there! My name is Janae and I live/travel in an RV full-time with my husband, Tucker, and our two dogs, Marvel and Cap. As a dog owner, I’m excited to be writing this guest post for Lippert and will be giving you my top 10 tips for RVing with dogs.

When we first hit the road in March 2019 as new RV travelers, it was just the two of us. We gave ourselves three months to adjust to RV life before bringing a fur baby into our home. We got Cap in June of 2019, then waited until January 2021 to bring Marvel into our family.

We’ve learned quite a bit about RVing with dogs over the past few years, and I hope that our experiences will help you know what to expect and plan for. Let’s dive right in with my first tip!

1. Do your research.

For someone who likes to plan everything in advance, this may seem like a no-brainer. However, if you’re more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person, this is for you.

Having dogs along with you means you have to do more research and know in advance what your plans are going to be. Before you bring your dog on your RV adventure, consider the following:

  • Are dogs allowed where you’re planning to stay?
  • Do you have enough space for dogs in your RV?
  • Are dogs allowed on the trails you’re planning to hike?
  • If you’re leaving them behind, will they be safe without you?

There’s more planning and research involved when you’re traveling with dogs, but it’s totally worth it. Just make sure you’re prepared!

Planning to introduce a new puppy to RV life? Check out my tips for raising a puppy in an RV.

2. Have a plan for their vet care, including emergency care.

If you’re traveling full-time, then chances are, you won’t always be able to take your dogs to their regular vet. Some vets will give you medications for extra months when you know you are going to be gone.

Getting dogs into grooming facilities can vary in difficulty from state to state. Our dogs require grooming a few times a year, and we found that we can’t always wait until the last minute to get them an appointment somewhere. Some places we called were even booked up three to six months in advance!

You also need to have an emergency plan in place if something goes wrong during your travels. Whenever you get to a new location, find the nearest emergency vet clinic, and be prepared if anything goes wrong. Hopefully, there won’t ever be any issues, but if your dog has a medical emergency, you’ll be glad you planned ahead!

3. Give them their own space.

The amount of space that you have to give your dogs will vary in every situation. However, it’s important to give your dogs their own space, even if it’s just a dog bed or blanket somewhere in your rig.

It is also important to keep a lot of toys around as well. Our dogs are very energetic and love to play. Having their own toys keeps them from ever getting bored and chewing on things that aren’t okay for them.

Another thing to consider when RVing with dogs is where they will be on travel days. If you live in a motorhome, then it will be easier for them on travel days. However, if you live in a travel trailer or a 5th wheel, they will need to have room to ride in your tow vehicle with you. Some people even chose to use a seat belt for their pets.

Dog laying on the floor of an RVDog laying on the floor of an RV

4. Make a plan for when you can't bring your dogs along.

You’ll find that not all activities or locations are friendly to your dogs. You can either choose to avoid them altogether, or you can make a plan for where to leave your dogs.

National Parks are usually not the friendliest towards dogs. This is for a variety of reasons, but usually it’s for the safety of your dogs and the wildlife the parks are protecting. Be sure and check each National Park’s website for pet information. Some of them will have one or two trails your dogs are allowed on, even if the majority of the trails aren’t permitted.

Here are a couple of options for what you can do with your dogs during these times:

  • If your dog is social and loves playing with other dogs, a daycare or dog sitter might be the perfect option! We have done this with our dogs a few times and they always have so much fun playing with the other dogs. You can also look for options on care.com or rover.com. Be sure to always keep a copy of your dog’s current shot records as most boarding facilities require proof.
  • If your dogs don’t have anxiety, you may be able to leave them in your RV if you will only be gone for a short amount of time. You will need to make sure that you leave plenty of food and water and that they have toys to keep themselves entertained. Some people even choose to have cameras and temperature sensors that they can monitor on their phones while they are gone to make sure their pets are safe.

If you’re looking for hotels or restaurants that are pet-friendly, I recommend downloading the BringFido app. If you’re looking for dog-friendly hiking trails, the AllTrails app has a filter that makes it easy to find them quickly.

Check out my complete guide to hiking with dogs if you want to read more tips and tricks about taking on the trails with your fur babies.

5. Make sure they are getting adequate exercise.

Some dogs require more exercise than others, but RVs aren’t generally large enough for dogs to run around in.

Our favorite thing to do with our dogs for exercising is hiking. They love the mental stimulation of being outdoors and are fueled by adventure.

If you are unable to hike with your dogs, you can sometimes find nice dog parks for them to play in. This also allows them to socialize with other dogs and they usually have a blast!

6. Be mindful of harsh weather.

Keeping an eye on the weather is crucial for your dog’s safety and happiness during your RV camping trip.

Hot Weather

If it’s too hot, sometimes giving them extra water isn’t enough. Our dogs have burned their paws on hot hiking trails in the past, and since then we have invested in hiking shoes for them. Don't forget that the ground is a lot hotter to them than it is to you!

We always hike with collapsible dog bowls and make sure to stop for lots of water breaks on hot days. Cap has a nice hiking harness that we clip his water bowl onto so he can carry it most of the time.

Cold Weather

It is equally important to make sure that your dogs are safe in extremely cold weather conditions. Never leave them outside without you and be sure they have somewhere warm that they can access. Our dogs love to curl up in front of our fireplace on chilly days!

If you’re hiking in the snow, make sure their paws do not get too cold or frozen.

7. Have your pets get microchipped.

Losing a dog on the road could be a very scary thing! Thankfully, we have never had to deal with it, but we have heard of other RVers who have had pets slip out the door or get away from them on a hiking trail.

We have both of our dogs microchipped so that if they ever got lost, someone could know we are the owners and return them to us.

8. Protect your dogs against ticks.

Ticks can be a big issue, depending on what part of the country you are traveling in. Ticks can carry various diseases and can make your dogs very sick if infected. We use tick drops once a month for our dogs, although there are a lot of options out there for what you can do. It's a good idea to always keep them protected, especially while you're spending time outdoors.

9. Make sure to follow proper pet etiquette at RV parks.

Always follow the rules regarding dogs at any RV park or campground you stay at. Be sure to always pick up after your pet — no one likes stepping in it! Some parks even provide bags for you to use.

Don’t let your dogs bark, especially at night. This can be very frustrating for those around you and can result in a bad camping experience for you and everyone else in the campground.

Keep your dogs on a leash where it is required. This is for everyone’s safety since not all the dogs in the park will be friendly. Keep your dogs with you and avoid any run-ins with unfriendly dogs.

Dog standing in the doorway of an RVDog standing in the doorway of an RV

10. Be wary of any wild animals.

Last but not least, while RVing with dogs, know what wild animals frequent the areas you will be in and be prepared to protect your furry companions. Some predators are large (bears, wolves, mountain lions, etc.) and others are smaller, like rattlesnakes.

Don’t allow your dogs to be left outside unattended, especially at night. Even when we’re boondocking and no one else is around, I still go out with my dogs when they need to go potty to make sure nothing tries to attack or snatch them. We have heard some sad stories of other RVers losing their dogs this way.

Also, be mindful of any wild animals when you’re hiking with your dogs and have a plan in place for if you run across any.

I hope that you’ve found this post helpful in preparing for RVing with a dog. What other tips would you add to this list?

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out! You can follow me on Instagram at @adventureswithtucknae. You can also follow our RV adventures at adventureswithtucknae.com.

Happy travels!