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Campervan Life With Dogs

Campervan life with dogs can be the most rewarding experience, if done correctly.

Here’s a guide on everything you need to consider if you want to travel with your dog in a van.

Vanlife with Dogs: A serious commitment

Each dog has a different personality, has been raised differently, and will react to experiences in their own way.

If you’re not careful, campervan life with dogs may not go well for every animal. 

Before making the decision to take your dog traveling in a van with you, the most important thing to do is a test run.

Take your dog camping for a weekend and see how they react.

Are they excited, or are they miserable?

Does he/she get sick while traveling by car?

Is there enough space for him/her in the campervan?

Is your dog strongly territorial, or do they do well with going to new places?

These are all questions that you should ask yourself.

Going for a smaller trip before embarking on your campervan journey is one of the easiest and best ways to determine how your dog will cope with being on the road.

PAWABOO Dog Safety Vest Harness for campervan life with dogs Vansage
Keep you dogs safe in your campervan seats with a PAWABOO Dog Safety Vest Harness. Click for current pricing and more images on Amazon.

Keep your dog safe in your campervan

Seating for your dog

It’s important to keep your dog safe while on the road. Make sure that there is a safe spot for them to lay/sit while traveling.

Having their dog bed on the floor or enough space for them on the couch is great.

Many travelers use a seat belt harness for their dog. If your dog has a tendency to startle or jump out of the car, this can be a life saver.

Lost Dog, Sad Camper

You’ll be traveling to strange places and dogs can get confused and run away.

Consider getting a microchip for your dog so that if they ever do get lost you can track where they are and find them.

How to keep your dog safe from heat

Chances are you will be traveling in warmer weather, so keeping your dog cool must be a priority for you.

Dogs can easily suffer from heat stroke if they are left in hot vehicles, or outside without shade and water.

!!Please click here and take a minute to educate yourself to avoid the tragedy of Canine Heat Stroke. 

If you don’t have air conditioning in your campervan, you can look into purchasing a solar or battery powered fan.

Another thing you can do is install reflectix on your windows so that the heat stays out.

Always keep windows open to have a breeze flowing through!

Vansage Campervan Life with Dogs
Photo courtesy of Wendy Berry

Making sure your dog stays warm enough

Dogs can suffer from hypothermia. Many dogs do well in low temps, but some breeds don’t. Some dogs can be left in a cold van for extended periods while others may need to kept warm.

If traveling in cold climates, consider your dogs special needs and adjust accordingly.

Medical Considerations

Before you start traveling with your dog, it’s important to make sure that they have all their shots up to date.

Vansage Campervan Life with Dogs black dog eyes
Image courtesy of Daniel Petty

For example, If you are traveling to areas where you know there are tics, you should consider getting them a vaccine against diseases such as Lyme disease.

If you have a favorite vet, it’s best to handle this before leaving town so you don’t have to deal a strange clinic.

The Leash is Your (2nd) Best Friend

Make sure you have a variety of harnesses and leashes for your dog.

Don’t just bring a short walking leash, make sure you have a long one too.

There are some areas that forbid dogs to be off leash, so it’s good to always be prepared.

Next to Dogliness: Keeping your dog clean while traveling

The cleanliness of your pet is as important as your personal cleanliness.

Dogs love to get dirty, whether they are rolling around in mud or running through puddles.

If you currently have carpet in your campervan, you might want to consider removing that and installing laminate or other easy to clean flooring.

Vansage Campervan life with dogs dog with mini RV
Photo courtesy of Design Milk

Always have a towel ready to dry or wipe off your dog if they get dirty.

Take time to stop to bathe, or have them professionally bathed, while on the road.

A clean van is crucial and your van cannot be clean with a filthy dog riding along.

Traveling with a dog can be reason enough to have quality Campervan showers on board, or even to finally install a campervan hot water heater

Don’t Forget to Pack the Comfort

Once you make the decision to bring your dog on the road with you, it’s important to ensure that they will be comfortable throughout the trip.

Make sure to bring their special bed and their most favorite toys.

If they have a favorite blanket that they love to lay on, bring that.

Perhaps the bed your dog is used to at home is too big to bring or could use an upgrade.

The right campervan dog bed can make all the difference in their comfort, and yours.

If your dog is used to being kenneled at home, you need to consider rv pet enclosures and specifically, a portable dog crate.

Potty and Rest Breaks

When traveling with a dog you will need to make sure that you are stopping enough during the day to take them for walks and potty breaks.

If you know that your dog doesn’t do well with other dogs, or in crowds of people, avoid taking them to those areas.

Try to find quieter parks and back roads where you can take them for walks and this will make all the difference for them.

You might consider a trip to some National Parks where dogs are allowed.

As the author of that post has learned, it can be a very rewarding journey. 

Good Neighbor

As you probably already know, not everyone is a dog lover, and if you haven’t learned that yet, it will become clear when traveling with your dog

Some people get annoyed at barking so if your dog is a barker, it might be better to avoid heavily populated campgrounds and find less populated areas instead.

Many people have pet allergies, or they don’t want dogs around their kids, or a host of other concerns.

Keep these concerns in mind and you’ll never have issues with neighbors at camp grounds and other stopping spots.

  • If there are leash laws, please obey them.
  • Always carry bags with you so that you can pick up after your pets.
  • Even if you are not in a heavily populated area, it’s always important to pick up after them.
  • Dogs are not allowed everywhere.
  • For example, there are many national parks where dogs are restricted.

You must be accommodating and willing to change your travel plans if you have your dog with you.

Campervan Life with Dogs: A Rewarding Journey

Bringing your dog along on your journey will make it an unforgettable experience and change your trip entirely.

Dogs bring so much joy to our lives, and being able to experience new places with them is amazing.

Vansage Campervan Life with Dogs dog peering in tent
Image courtesy of Oakley Originals

Having a dog on your trip with you will also help you to get out more and explore new places that you might otherwise not.

Dogs are also a great way to meet new people and make new friends, especially if you take them to places such as dog parks.

Dogs are such amazing companion animals, and you will both have so much fun!

Recap of Campervan life with dogs

  • Test Trip: Make sure your dog can handle the basics
  • Keep your dog safe with a safety vest harness
  • Consider a microchip for tracking if he/she gets lost
  • Heat: Learn about it here to avoid a possible tragedy!
  • Cold: Dogs can suffer from hypothermia. Make sure they’re ready for the cold
  • Get shots and meds before leaving your familiar vet
  • Get region appropriate shots to protect against tics and other issues
  • Carry a variety of leashes and tie downs for walking and camp grounds
  • Cleanliness is crucial. Bathe them as often (or more) on the road as you would at home
  • Comfort: Bring the right toys, blanket, bed and crate
  • Plan your trip around potty and walk breaks
  • Barking, allergies, kids, jumping… Be a good neighbor at campgrounds and elsewhere
  • Research and pay attention to pet restrictions at National Forests and campgrounds
  • Enjoy! Campervan life with dogs is an amazing journey 

Author: Veronica Cavanaugh

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Veronica Cavanaugh Vansage author

2 Responses

  1. […] Your furry travel companions (um.. pets, mostly, but also, your spouse?) will love you even more for providing a warm space. […]

  2. […] on windows can lower van temperatures by as much as 20 degrees F. And remember your pets need to be kept cool […]

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