RVing with Dogs – Sierra and Ruby on the Road

When we first thought about getting our motorhome one of our main concerns was what would it be like RVing with dogs? With two nearly 70 lbs chocolate labs one of the deciding factors on what RV to purchase was made with thoughts of how much room they take up. If we had smaller dogs or no dogs at all we probably would have chosen a smaller RV. Sierra and Ruby love going for rides and we knew they would love traveling seeing new sights and sniffing new smells. We never knew they would love it as much as they do. They get to spend more time with us now that we’re on the road. We try to take them everywhere we can.

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Keeping Your Dogs Safe

  • Heat Stress Heat exhaustion is one of the most common threats to pets. Just like your car on a hot day, and RV can become very hot in a short time. In 70°F, the sun can cause the inside of your RV to reach over 100°F! Too hot for a pet to survive. Our RV has two air conditioners that do a good job keeping our motorhome cool during those hot days. The problem when we have things we want to do that they can’t be included in. How can we leave the dogs for a few hours while we go play and ensure they’re safe at home? Our answer to that is our MarCELL Pro temperature and humidity monitor. If temperature or humidity go outside the safe range we’ve set or power is lost to the unit the MarCELL PRO immediately makes a connection online via cellular service and “dispatches” the notifications you have set up (phone call, email or text message). No matter which temperature monitoring system you use ensure it has a proper connection at each camping location, whether it is cellular or Wi-Fi. It needs to have a way to contact you. If you do a lot of boondocking it may or may not work for you.
  • Riding in the RV You may be tempted to let your dog sit on your lap while on the road, but please note that doing this is not safe for your dog or you! Just like you, your pets should be buckled up when in your vehicle is in motion. Whether its riding in your pick-up truck that you’re pulling your trailer with or riding in the motorhome. Keep both you and your dog safe by using a seat belt harness or a dog crate while driving. If you’re using a crate or carrier, make sure that you secure it so it won’t slide around. Whichever safe way you choose to keep your dog safe, it needs to be in the same vehicle as you. You should never leave them alone in a camper you’re pulling. By practicing the above safety precautions, you will help prevent your dogs from getting injured, injuring you, and also from distracting you while driving.

Ruby loves laying on the dash of our motorhome (she’s like a nosy neighbor) she likes to see everything going on. She would be up there when we travel if we’d let her.
We get most of our pet supplies while on the road from Chewy.com and highly recommend them.

Your Dog’s Essentials

You want to make sure your dogs have all the necessary items with them in order to have a great trip with you.

Here are some top things to bring:

  • Collar – If you’re like us your dog is always wearing this.
  • Leash – Your dogs will need to get out and stretch their legs when you stop or have to go out to the bathroom. Unlike at your sticks and brick home you can’t just let them out the back door to do their business.
  • Food and Treats – Your dog expects to eat on the same schedule as at home.
  • Bedding – Our dogs love lying around on our bed, couch, the rugs, pretty much where ever they like. They do have their own beds but they like to do their own thing. You definitely want to have what’s comfortable for them available.
  • Toys – We have a small cloth toy box that we keep our dogs favorite toys in. Of course Sierra loves to pull everything out when she’s looking for something to play with. Now if we could just teach her to put her toys away.
  • Food and water bowls – You’ll want to pay particular attention to the water bowls. Water can be your RV’s worst enemy. Ensure your bowl is spill proof or sit it on something to prevent water from spilling and creating a problem for your RV.
  • Medication – If your dogs need any medications make sure you have plenty along to get through your trip.
  • Waste bags – please pick up after your dogs.

Identification and Information

Ensure your dog has a dog tag with their name and your up to date contact information on it, in case they get separated from you. Consider having your dogs micro-chipped or update your contact information if they are already chipped. It would be terrible, but pets do become separated from their people while traveling quite often. Shelters, animal hospitals, veterinary clinics and humane societies have scanners that can read the chips so they can get your dog back to you as quickly as possible.

Also, keep your dogs information with you at all times.

Some items you should carry:

  • Veterinarian Records – a lot of campgrounds ask for recent vaccination records to ensure your dog’s health is up to date.
  • Proof of Ownership – It would be heartbreaking if your dog runs away and the wrong person finds them. A scrupulous person could easily say the dog is theirs, leaving you baffled and screwed unless you can prove otherwise. Let’s hope that never happens!
  • Photographs – While having pictures on your phone is great, print one or two good-quality pictures of your pet in case they run away.

Be Considerate

More and more places are adopting pet friendly policies and welcoming pet travelers. One of the most important parts of bringing your dogs along on your RV adventures is to always be a good neighbor, be considerate and be a good representative of the pet travel community.

Obey leash laws and pet guidelines, and always, pick up after your pets. Attempt to keep barking to a minimum, and if your dog is aggressive to other dogs don’t pretend it’s a good dog. Our girl Ruby has been attacked twice by supposed good dogs in the past year.

Keep in mind that bringing pets along is a privilege. Bad behavior by one pet owner can affect us all!

Travel Days

On travel days, we always try to take the dogs for a long walk. This way they get all their business taken care of, and get wore out before we hit the road.

Some animals get anxiety when traveling. You may need some way to keep the anxiety to a minimum. Our Ruby was a wonderful traveler for the first nine months of our adventure. Then somewhere along the line she started to get nervous on travel days. She would pant and worry about what was going on. We took her to the Vet and got some medications that didn’t do anything. We tried a few other over the counter remedies that didn’t do anything either. Finally, we tried Hemp Quiet Moments. That and a good long walk before heading out finally calmed her down a bit on travel days. She is still a little nervous but it doesn’t worry her as bad as before.

We know how tempting it is to put the RV in drive and just keep on rolling! But making time for potty breaks or a short walk along the way is one of the best parts of traveling with pets!

Sierra and Ruby love to stop and sniff the grass or wander down a trail to break up the drive. It’s good for us all to take a little break every few hours. Pick a rest area, or choose a little town to explore along your way. It will break up the day and won’t feel like you’ve spent the whole time behind the wheel.

Keeping the RV Clean

One thing about RV living is that there isn’t a lot of room so cleaning is usually quick and easy… At least fairly easy.

Did we mention that Sierra sheds like there is no tomorrow? She constantly sheds so we vacuum almost daily to keep the hair under control. It would start to look like everything is covered in fur otherwise. We use a Shark Ion Duo Clean to vacuum our RV. The MultiFLEX Technology folds over for compact, free-standing storage and provides flexible reach to get under beds, couches, and tables. It works well on our vinyl floors as well as our throw rugs and is a great overall vacuum for an RV.

The worst days are the rainy ones. The dogs still want to go out for their exercise. Some campgrounds have muddy roads and other areas that really create a problem for keeping the RV clean. To combat tracking mud throughout our RV we have a set of towels specifically for the dogs on rainy days. When we bring the dogs back into the RV on a rainy day they immediately get their paws and bellies wiped down and dried. We’ve found this keeps the RV much cleaner on nasty weather days.

 Veterinary Care

One of the hardest issues we’ve run into with the dogs while on the road is Veterinary care. Though your dog may be up-to-date on all its shots, and may seem in perfect health when you leave on your trip, things can happen, and you want to be prepared in case they do.

Seems like a lot of Veterinarians want you to be an established customer before they’ll see your pets or at least that’s what we’ve been told when they find out we’re just passing through the area. We have been lucky enough the couple times Sierra and Ruby got sick while on the road to find some great Vets that took good care of them. It just took some searching to find them.

We’re thinking of trying Banfield Pet Hospital. They have locations throughout the country and are located in most PetSmart stores. Once we’re an existing customer finding one to take our girls to may be easier than trying to get into a random Veterinary Hospital.

Conclusion

Thanks to the comforts of home that RVs offer, bringing your dogs with you is quite simple and will prove to be a wonderful addition to your trip. After traveling with Sierra and Ruby in our motorhome, we’ve learned a lot and hope our article helps you decide to take your dogs on the road with you. If you have any questions or comments please post them below.

14 thoughts on “RVing with Dogs – Sierra and Ruby on the Road”

  1. I basically do not take my dogs on a travel trip because of the discomfort and stress they’ll experience. I never thought of RV travel with them. I enjoyed your article and it’s really insightful, it’s very clear that with RV travel, our pets will be able to enjoy the great outdoors all day and always sleep in the same space at night. Nice article, I will definitely try it out.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your comments Sheddy. It can be difficult to take dogs on a normal trip. That’s one reason we love traveling in the RV. Being able to take the dogs it’s just become a normal way of life for them. They have their schedule pretty much set now. Lots of walks and sniffing all the new places they get to go. If you get the chance to take them RVing I highly recommend it. 

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  2. Your dogs sound like good travelers.  Sometimes there is no option but to bring the pets along.  After all, they are part of the family.

    When we moved back to Alaska many years ago, we had a pickup with a camper shell on it, and we filled it with a great deal of our belongings.  We also pulled a 19-foot trailer that we lived in for the trip.  We had two cats, so of course they moved with us.  They rode in the trailer while we were on the move.  I sat back there with them for a little while, and saw that they had figured things out.  I’d put a rocking chair in the trailer, and both cats slept on the seat while we were moving.  The rocking chair gently rocked the whole time.  Must have put them to sleep.

    We were not sure how they would handle evenings when we stopped, but we discovered we could just let them loose.  They would explore and hunt a little, and then come back to our camp.  They were great travelers.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your comments Fran. We love being able to bring our dogs with us. They are great travelers.

      It’s great you were able to take your cats with you on your trip. I can picture them on the rocking chair gently rocking back in the trailer. It amazes me that they would stay when you stopped and let them out. I always heard you had to acclimate cats to a new location before letting them out. Maybe that’s not true. 

      We’ve been working our way North hoping to make it to Alaska this summer. We were supposed to cross the Canadian Border on May 26th so we hope they open it up soon. We have some room to push things off a bit but we sure want to make it up there this year if we can. 

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  3. Hi Rob,

    Thank you for this very interesting and informative article on life on the road with the dogs in a camper van. Appears you have a lot of fun while doing it which is no wonder as you have given a lot of thought to it and making it both safe and enjoyable for both of you and the dogs. It is the responsibility of every dog owner to ensure this is so however not all dog owners are as responsible. ; How many for example will buckle up the dogs with seat belts or take the time to ensure there are vets who will accept taking on unknown dogs from unknown non customers. I believe even if you are a pet lover sometimes it is not so easy without experience to think of everything which is why you pointing it out and depicting it in such a fun way is essential help and reading to the enjoyment and safety for all on the trip. Thank you again for providing an essential guide through actually the doing of it in contrast to just a check list!!

    Rami.

    Reply
    • Hi Rami, Thank you for your comments. We do have a lot of fun with our dogs. They are our family so we try to take care of them like we would any other family member. Glad we could be of assistance to you.

      Rob

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  4. Hi Rob, I would like to thank you for such an informative website. My wife and I both love travelling with our dogs Hudson and Nelly. We have hired campervans in the past and travelled throughout Europe. Unfortunately we won’t make it to the US with ours as the logistics are too great. I particularly liked your recommendations on extras to take with you. The Joseph Joseph kitchenware is excellent and something I shall be adding to my travelling kit. My only question is at what age do you believe your dogs should be when they start travelling? the reason I ask is we travelled once with a 6 month old puppy. I think she was a bit too young as whilst we slept she chewed through the door seal of the main door on the campervan. Ooops.

    David

    Reply
    • Hi David, Thank you for your great comments. I would love to explore Europe in a campervan. We traveled around Germany, Switzerland, France and England a couple years ago. We mostly went by trains and had a blast. I think in a campervan would be great fun. If we ever manage to make it back to Europe to do that I know the logistics would be too challenging as it would be for you coming to the US. We do try to take our dogs where ever we can though. 

      Yes the Joseph Joseph kitchenware is excellent they have something for just about every need. 

      I think it’s ok to travel with dogs of any age. The main thing would be if they are still in the chewing stage is to probably have a kennel of some sort when you can’t watch her or have to leave her behind for a bit. 

      We have been traveling full time for about 13 months now. After traveling for nine months with no issues from our dogs, our girl Ruby tore up one of the seat cushions on our dinette while we were out on Christmas day. She is 6 years old and never tore anything up as long as we’ve had her. We don’t know what happened with her. We thought it was a one time thing and left the dogs again a few days later. She tore the cushion up more that day too. So now she has to be in a kennel if we need to leave them behind.  

      Thanks again for your comments,

      Rob

      Reply
  5. I wouldn’t dream of going on holiday without my dog. A holiday without him would not be a holiday, I’d be worrying about him the whole time and I’d really miss him. Although I’ve never been on an RV holiday, this is a useful list of tips and things to remember for any holiday with dogs. Thanks very much for sharing.

    Reply
    • We agree with you that a holiday wouldn’t be a holiday without our dogs. They are our family and go with us as many places as we can take them. Thank you for your comments. 

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  6. What a fun article to read.  I am a dog lover, but I prefer small dogs.  I don’t have an RV, but I do have a 6 lb. rescue dog. I know it’s not a good thing, but because she is so small, I let my dog just go back and forth from the front seat to the back seat as she pleases.  Do your dogs stay in crates when you’re on the road?

    I agree with everything you say about traveling with dogs.  I’m sure you wouldn’t want to forget anything that your dog uses on a daily basis, from food to toys.  I think it would definitely be essential to have your pet micro-chipped, just in case the unimaginable happens and he gets away from you.  Or of course have a collar and tag with your information on it.

    Again, great information and I hope you continue to enjoy your travels with your furry friends!

    Reply
    • Hi Yvette, Thank you so much for your comments. We’ve had a great time traveling with our dogs. They love the life we’re living. They get to spend so much time with us now.

      When we’re on the road our dogs are belted in on the couch of the RV. Our dog Ruby would love to ride on the dash if she had the chance. That’s her place when we’re in the campgrounds. 

      Reply
  7. Travelling in a motorhome with a dog is something very new to me. I had not tried it before as it was not available in the country i was staying in. Nevertheless, it is a good idea with lots of advantages. Getting to travel around in a leisure way, visiting exotic and interesting places without high costs. Hotel accomodation, foods and transport can add up real fast. It take lots of preparation to have a safe and smooth trip. With backup plans, should there be any emergency or scenarios happening along the road. Travel with pets is a good option, both for the owners and your dog. At least you have your companion to keep yourself occupy and relax a bit. I am an animal lover. Had a wonderful memories with my neighbour’s dog when i was young. I will rent one of the motorhome when i get to travel in future. And travel at a leisure pace with my family. In some beautiful countries with stunning lakes and beautiful scenary. Hence, driving on the road is not easy. Taking safety into consideration consistently can be tiring.

    What is one important advice for someone who is new to motorhome travellng and not familiar with the road conditions? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi David, Thank you for your comments. Traveling in an RV with pets is an ideal situation. We have never ran into an RV park that doesn’t allow dogs. Unlike hotels that might not allow your pets to be with you or charge an unreasonable pet deposit or fee just to let your dog stay with you. We recently stayed at a motel that charged $35 per night per pet just to spend the night. With two pets for two nights while our RV was getting some work done on it cost us just about as much as the room per night. So thankful our we can have our dogs with us on our journey. 

      My best advice for someone who is new to motorhome traveling is to take your time to get familiar with the vehicle. They are much larger than a normal car. Some are hard to see out of. Be aware of the turning radius as they are long vehicles. It’s easy to hit the rear corner panel when turning into a gas pump or other places. 

      Reply

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