RV Trip With a Dog
Travel With Dogs And Cats

Your Ultimate Guide to RVing with Your Dog!

Maybe you’re planning your family’s next camping trip, or you just retired and want to travel across the country, or perhaps you want to take your family on an extended road trip.

Whatever the reason you’re considering renting an RV, one thing’s for sure: you don’t want to leave behind any family members – including those with fur and four legs!

If you want to take your pet RVing, you’ll want to make sure you find an RV rental company and RV parks that are pet-friendly. You’ll also want to make sure you keep them safe and bring along all their necessities!

Table of Contents:

What is an RV?

What Is an RV

First, we should define what a recreational vehicle – an “RV” – actually is.

You’ve probably seen them when you’re driving down the freeway: SUVs lugging featherweights, large pickups pulling a fifth-wheel, or those extravagant homes on wheels.

And a “house on wheels” is an accurate way to describe them all, because RVs by nature have living quarters. Most of them, with the exception of very small ones, have a bedroom, a bathroom, and even a kitchen!

The specific types of RVs are defined by their classes, such as:

  • Class A: Full-sized, luxurious buses that range anywhere from 26 to 45 feet long.
  • Class B: More like a spacious van-turned-camper, they can still be up to 23 feet long.
  • Class C: A mid-sized RV in between classes A and B, which can be up to 30 feet long.
  • Travel Trailer: Camper that you tow behind with a tow-hook, comes in a variety of sizes.
  • Fifth-wheel: Basically a Class A RV that you tow with a truck fitted with a special hitch.

The most common type you’ll come across when renting them is a mid-sized Class C.

Related read: Our Favorite Pet-Friendly RVs (check out some of the awesome pet features they have!)

Are Pets Allowed in RV Rentals?

RV Rental Are Dogs Allowed

It would be devastating if you couldn’t bring along your dog on your next RV trip. So, we’re all thankful that the majority of RV rental companies do allow pets!

Some of the most common are:

  • Cruise America
  • El Monte RV
  • Escape Campervans

Still, some large companies, like Road Bear RV Rentals, do not allow pets in their RVs.

Private RV Rentals

If you don’t want to go through a more established company, you can always try renting an RV from a private person. And don’t worry, it isn’t as sketchy as it might sound!

That’s because there are companies who have set up RV rental networks. Basically, they connect people who want to rent out their RV with someone (like you!) who wants to rent one.

There are benefits, such as (generally) lower prices and more specific options. Not to mention since they don’t have an operating base, you can most likely find an RV closer to you.

Plus, some companies even offer extras, such as:

  • Roadside Assistance
  • Additional Insurance
  • Damage Protection Coverage

Some of the best (and most trusted) peer-to-peer RV rental companies that offer pet-friendly rentals are:

  • Outdoorsy.com
  • RVRentalConnection.com
  • RVShare.com

Dealership Rentals

If you still haven’t found the ideal trailer for your next trip, you can always try going to your local RV dealership. Sometimes they’ll have a few motorhomes set aside for renting. And if they do, they might just have one that’s pet friendly!

And if your nearest dealership isn’t in close enough proximity to swing by, you can always call ahead and ask. That way, you won’t waste a trip if the answer is no.

What Are Common Pet Restrictions?

Pet Restrictions RV

Even if you’ve found an RV rental that is pet-friendly, you might want to check the company’s pet policy before signing anything.

Most companies have pet fees as well as breed restrictions, but some are very lax when it comes to their pet terms.

Related Read: The 9 best dog breeds for RV travel adventures!

Here’s an overview of the pet policy for some of the most common companies:

  • Cruise America: They don’t restrict any breeds or even the number of pets you can have. They don’t even charge an extra fee, unless it needs cleaning when you return it. In that case, there is a $250 cleaning fee.
  • El Monte RV: They also don’t charge any pet fee, unless it isn’t returned in the same condition you got it (then they’ll charge anywhere from $50-$100). They also do not restrict breeds.
  • Escape Campervans: There is a $150 non-refundable fee, and they only allow up to two pets. They do not allow pets during the months of July, August, and September.

Do Most RV Parks Allow Dogs?

RV Camp Are Dogs Allowed

So, you’ve done the hard work of getting settled with a pet-friendly RV and are ready to go! But before you take off to just anywhere, you might be wondering what places do (and don’t) allow your dog.

Most places do allow dogs, and those that do will commonly offer amenities like dog trails. And most websites where you can rent RVs will actually list popular destinations that allow you to take your pet!

As far as campsites go, here are a couple places that are sure to allow you to bring Fido along:

  • KOAs: They do allow dogs, with the exception of some breeds and sizes (which vary based on location).
  • Escapees RV Club: All locations allow pets, but do require proof of vaccination.
  • Allstays: Over 37,000 campsites, ranging from National Forests to independent sites, are all pet friendly.

And if you have destinations planned already, you can always simply call ahead and double check. That way, you’ll ensure that there are no road bumps on your road trip!

Safety Tips for RVing with Your Dog

Even if you’ve determined that you can take your dog with you, the question you might be asking is, “Should I?”

Like all the members of our family, we want to make sure our dog is safe and can actually enjoy their vacation. So here’s a few tips on how to keep your pet safe when you go RVing.

Related Read: Is It Safe To Leave A Dog In An RV?

#1 Keep Them in the Cab

Secure Dog With Seatbelt or in Carrier on an RV Trip

When you get ready to leave, your first instinct might be to just let your pooch run around in the camper while you’re driving.

And it does seem logical – at first. They would have plenty of room to stretch out and lots of things to keep them preoccupied. Right?

But actually, letting them run free is the last thing you want to do while you’re driving. Why?

Well, for starters, if you got in an accident and they weren’t properly secured, they have a very high chance of being seriously injured by being jostled around and thrown about.

To prevent that, you’ll want to keep them in the cab (the part you actually drive in) and fasten your pet in a seat-belt. There are two ways you can do this:

  1. Get an adaptable seat-belt harness
  2. Put them in a kennel that can be fastened to the seat back

An adaptable seat-belt harness is just what it sounds like: a harness that your pet wears that can actually be put into the seat-belt buckling mechanism. Just make sure when you purchase one that it has been crash tested by an accredited facility.

Carrier or Kennel

Related Read: How To Add A Dog Kennel Or Enclosure To An RV (there are some clever creative ideas in here!

A carrier or kennel that has a special loop to attach to the seat-belt is another option, however this is better reserved for smaller animals.

You’ll want to make sure that there is ample space for your pet, or you’ll risk them getting stressed out or experiencing symptoms of claustrophobia.

Another reason you’ll want to keep them in the cab instead of letting them run loose in the back is because you’ll be able to keep an eye on them.

You’ll be able to notice right away if they start showing signs of severe anxiety, and you can take the initiative to calm them down.

#2 Keep Them Calm

How To Calm an Anxious Dog in RV

Car rides can be stressful to certain animals, and stress can lead to a variety of health problems. Nothing will ruin your trip faster than your pup being sick!

But the only way to combat a stressed dog is to know when they are anxious in the first place! Some of the signs and symptoms of a nervous pet include:

  • Pacing or shaking
  • Drooling or excessive licking
  • Whining or barking

If your dog is overly anxious, you might notice them eating less or refusing to eat at all. That, as you probably know, can become an issue – especially when you’re planning on being gone for weeks or months at a time.

On top of that, you might notice your pet going to the bathroom more or less. If they aren’t using the bathroom frequently enough, they can develop uncomfortable problems like constipation.

And if they are going to the bathroom too much or having “accidents,” they could become quickly dehydrated. Not to mention if they have an accident that stains something, you’ll potentially have to pay the cleaning fee upon the return of your RV.

How To Calm Your Pet

If you are noticing the symptoms of a stressed pet, don’t worry! There are things you can do to calm them down, such as:

  • Keeping the temperature cool
  • Opening windows
  • Taking more frequent breaks and allowing them to exercise

You can even talk to your vet before you go if your dog has a tendency towards motion sickness or severe anxiety. They might be able to give you some good recommendations on pheromone sprays or calming treats that can help relieve some of the stress.

#3 Exercise

Have Frequent Exercise on an RV Trip

We all know that exercise is an important part of daily life – but it becomes even more crucial to our overall health when we’re traveling for long periods of time.

Let’s face it, after a few hours on the road, we start to get achy. After a full eight hour long drive, we’re tired, our legs are killing us, and we’re (honestly) a little irritable. It affects both our mental and physical health – and that goes for pets, too.

That’s why it’s important to stop and stretch often. If you can, stop every hour or two and take your dog out on their leash. Give them a good walk, some water, a little food (if they can handle that), and some attention.

Depending on their size, dogs need anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours of exercise per day. So you might want to make your stops take anywhere from 10-15 minutes. This will help ensure that they get enough exercise and also give them enough time to stretch.

This will help keep them (and you) calm, rejuvenated, and excited about the rest of your drive!

#4 Be Able to Find Them if They Get Lost

Keep Dog Safe on an RV Trip

Once you’ve gotten to where you’re going, you’re probably excited to explore! But what happens if you come back from your expedition only to find your beloved furry friend missing?

Devastation, chaos, and tears would undoubtedly ensue. And all of a sudden, your whole focus goes from having a great time to searching your pet.

This situation can happen to anyone, which is why, before you go, you’ll want to make sure you’ll be able to easily locate them if they get lost. That means:

  • Getting them microchipped
  • Having a collar with your phone number on it (at least)
  • Consider a GPS tracker for your dog
  • Having any and all necessary paperwork (specifically ones that state that you’re their owner)
  • Having an up-to-date picture of them on hand

Why Do You Need These?

Having them micro-chipped and fashioning them with a collar are the two best things you can do that will help you find them if they get lost.

You’ll also want to make sure you have all their necessary paperwork, which would include proof of up-to-date vaccinations and something that clearly states that you are their owner.

That might seem weird at first, but if your pet runs off (especially if they don’t have a collar or chip) and someone else finds them, you’ll want to make sure you can prove they’re yours.

Otherwise, someone might not hand your pet back to you – whether with good or bad intentions. And no one wants that!

The last thing you’ll want is to make sure you have a picture of them on hand. If your pet does get out, you’ll probably be (frantically) asking others in the campground if they’ve seen your pet.

And when someone asks what they look like, you’ll want to be able to whip out a high-quality photograph that showcases their distinct features.

If your RV park neighbors know what your dog looks like, they’ll be much more helpful in assisting you with finding them.

What to Bring When RVing with a Dog

Dog Necessities on an RV Trip

Just like with yourself or your family members, you don’t want to leave behind any essentials when you’re packing, only to find out when it’s too late. And that applies to your pet’s necessities as well.

Before you hit the road, you’ll want to make sure you have these necessities in your doggie bag:

    • Food
    • Treats
    • Any medication, vitamins, and/or supplements
    • Drinking water
    • Food bowl
    • Water bowl
    • Dog bed
    • Their favorite toys
    • Current I.D. tag
    • Leash (shorter than 6 ft)
    • First Aid Kit
    • Waste bags
    • Medical records
    • Proof of vaccinations
    • Photo
    • Some kind of seat-belt harness

The reason you want a leash to be less than six feet is because some campgrounds have a leash length limit, and the standard for that is generally six feet.

Other Useful Things To Bring

Bringing Familiar Items for Dog on an RV Trip To Keep Them Calm

Related Read: 14 Essential RV Travel Accessories For Dogs

If you’re tight on space, you might want to consider getting collapsible food and water bowls, so when you’re on the move, you can fold them up and stow them away.

If you know that your pet gets extra nervous on car rides, you might want to bring some of their favorite things that remind them of home. These could be things like blankets they like to sleep on or stuffed animals that they like to cuddle with.

Anything that will help remind them of what’s familiar will help them stay calm and enjoy the trip more!

If you have extra room, time, and cash, you might want to consider investing in some of these items to help keep your pooch extra comfortable:

  • Cooling mat
  • An extra leash (longer than six feet)
  • Towels and wet wipes (for muddy and messy paws)

An extra leash can come in handy if you plan on taking your dog on hikes. That way, they will be able to explore the great outdoors right along with you!