Practical Pet Tips for Part-Time RVers


Liz Wilcox

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About Contributor

Author of Tales From the Black Tank, Liz Wilcox is an Army wife turned RV entrepreneur. When she’s not out exploring the US with her family, you can find her telling jokes and swapping campfire stories. She is a firm believer in the power of the campfire and refuses to settle for suburban survival. At the end of 2017, she gave up personal space in return for personal freedom, hitting the road in a 2007 Jayco Greyhawk. As a full-time RVer, she has a passion for creating community among campers of all kinds through humor and storytelling. You can learn more and become part of her community at The Virtual Campground.

I love to travel, but I also love my dog. Before I discovered RVing, these two facts were constantly at battle. I always had to find someone to watch my pup while I traveled and felt like I was constantly cutting trips short to get back to her.

RVing with pets is the best of both worlds. I get to travel often and have my furry companion with me at all times.

Of course, RVing also presents some challenges for both you and your pet. After almost two years of RVing, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for RVing with pets:

Keep Your Pets Healthy

A health dog

Trust me, you do not want to pull up to a campground and discover that your dog is sick and you don’t have your pet’s health records.

Keep your dog and cat up to date on their shots and always carry proof. We like to keep our dogs’ immunization records and rabies certificate in the door of the motorhome, right next to our registration and insurance. It’s just that important.

Last year, ticks were out in full force. When RVing with pets, regularly check them for ticks, and make sure to give them a flea and tick prevention treatment before heading back to the campground.

The US Forest Service recommends carrying certain first-aid items for our furry friends:

  • Booties (think toddler/baby socks) for protecting injured paws.
  • Emergency space blanket for shock or cold.
  • Flat-bladed tweezers and a small container of mineral oil for tick removal.
  • Bandana for a makeshift muzzle.
  • Multi-tool with needle-nose pliers for extracting splinters, thorns, etc.

It’s also a great idea to look up the name, phone number, and location of a nearby vet clinic. You can call ahead to your RV park or campground to see if they have that information available.

Basic Training For Dogs

dog being trained

Going camping is exciting. The fresh air, the fire-roasted hot dogs and the abundance of nature can really excite a person. Now imagine how your dog must feel with all their heightened senses.

The more training your dog has the better behaved they will be, meaning a less stressful RV vacation for all.

Now, don’t fret if your dog has never been to puppy boot camp. Basic commands should suffice for most camping situations:

Leave It

You never know what you might find out on a nature walk. Scat, food droppings or roadkill aren’t something you want your dog to ingest—although they’re bound to disagree. Your dog should listen when you tell them to leave something alone. The better your dog is at listening to this command, the easier your camping trip will be.


Despite distractions like smells, children, and other dogs, your dog should always come to you when he is called.


Your dog must be comfortable on a leash. I’ve never been to a campground or RV park that didn’t require a pet to be on a leash at all times. If your dog is unfamiliar or rusty, I would recommend practicing before heading out on your RV trip.

Campground Etiquette For Pet Owners

As much as I love my dog and consider her my first kid, I know there are campers (and pets) out there that don’t see the appeal of my sweet pup. Be a considerate neighbor and follow a few simple etiquette rules.

Keep Your Pet on a Leash at All Times

Yes, this is important enough to mention twice in one article.

While your dog may be docile and very good at coming when called, it’s important to think about other dogs that may not be as friendly. Avoid a conflict (and breaking campground rules) and keep your dog leashed at camp.

Don’t Leave Your Pet Outside by Itself

To be honest, I made this mistake the very first day we went camping. Within just 20 minutes, I had the campground owner knocking on my door.

Although your pet may be the sweetest dog in the world, other campers may be afraid of dogs. Your dog may be like mine and think being on a lead outside the RV means she is on guard duty. No one wants to walk past your campsite and have your dog bark at them.

That isn’t to say your dog can never be outside. We carry a lead and stake with us and put it down in any camp that permits it. We love having our dog outside with us while we are cooking, playing or just soaking up the great weather.

If you have a relaxed cat, I’ve seen many people do this with their kitties. I’ve even seen them in a large kennel outside with their owners.

Pet-Proof Your RV

RV Travel with Dog. Motorhome Traveling with Pet. Middle Age Australian Silky Terrier in Motorcoach Window Looking Around.

Whether you have a cat, dog, or other furry friends, it’s important to pet-proof the vehicle before your trip.

Place a piece of plexiglass on the bottom of the screen door if your dog is easily excitable. This will let you have the main door open and you won’t have to worry about your pup tearing the screen. This is also a great idea if you have a cat.

Bring along scratching posts for your cat. Chances are if you’re a cat owner, you already know why. You don’t want your sweet kitty tearing up the carpet, dinette, or window valances.

Use a gate to make some areas off-limits to your pet. Our dog was constantly trying to sit in the passenger seat of our motorhome. The thought of her nails and camp-dirty self all over my light-colored leather made me cringe. We made a gate and now the whole cab area is inaccessible to her.

Also, just like you don’t leave garbage on the ground outside for the animals to get to it, you need to contain your garbage inside your RV. I always put any garbage I have in a cabinet or cupboard so my dog isn’t tempted to go dumpster-diving when we are out of the house.

Have Fun

Remember, RVing with pets is supposed to be fun. Have fun by taking your pets to as many places as possible and letting them explore. They’ll be grateful for all the extra time they get to spend with you and are sure to love being on vacation as much as you do.

Do you bring your dog with you when you RV? What makes it great for you? Leave a comment below. 


  • Comment (23)
  • Kathy Waters says:

    So many good ideas! I’m getting ready to get out on the road with my cat- a little apprehensive but I think he’ll be fine. Putting in an attachable screened window with a perch so he can sit and ” feel” like he’s outside .

  • Diana Immordino says:

    My husband and I love to camp with our 6 dogs. They are crated during the trip and once set up in a campground we have a pen that we set up behind our motor home. They love to travel with us as they get more attention on road trips than they do at home.

  • Sue Dickson says:

    Try traveling with your parrot! We drove our motor home from AK to AZ when we relocated for health reasons. Our parrot needed a passport and the dog needed her health certificate to get back into the US. Both babies were great travel mates and our parrot was quite the socialite. She is a female eclectus with beautiful colors. When we stopped anywhere she would come out of her travel kennel and sit on the steering wheel to watch all the comings and goings. People passing by did double takes and knocked on our door to get a closer look. What an opportunity to educate and make new friends!

  • Benny says:

    Looks to me like you would be very restricted when traveling with pets. You can’t go to restaurants or shopping, no museums and many other places. Leaving one in the RV alone is not a good idea either.

  • Deb says:

    1) pick up after your pet
    2) pick up after your pet
    We are on the road for 4+ months a year with our dog, and at most campgrounds we have seen folks who think they are exempt from that rule. I’ve offered bags to several, and most were taken aback. It’s really not that hard! (It’s my #1 pet peeve)

  • Jane says:

    I’d love to hear suggestions of places dogs are welcome on the road. We have 2 dogs that we will be taking on the road starting January 2020 and would love to include them in as many activities as possible.

  • Cheri says:

    We have to take our diabetic, elder cat with us whenever we go camping. We’ve taken trips to Philly and Long Beach with the camper so we can give her the shots each day. The litter box goes in the bathroom and her bed in the livingroom. In the pickup, we cover the back seat with a blanket, put her litter box and bed back there and her food and water on the floor. If we make a stop, we have two sets of keys so we can leave the pickup running for the air conditioner. She never goes outside, but I’m thinking of getting a small cat tent for her to enjoy the outside too. She’s a wonderful traveler and camper.

  • Linda Cluney says:

    Many snowbirds head for the desert southwest. Make sure you know the dangers of and symptoms of desert fever. This can impact both pets and their owners.

  • Metoga says:

    I always crate my dog when I leave her in the RV. Not only is she safer because I know she won’t get into anything or hurt herself getting caught in blind cords or jumping off the bed, but if she had to be rescued in an emergency, it would be easier for a rescuer just to grab the crate than try to catch the dog. And I always leave celll phone numbers on the outside of the camper so we can be contacted if there is a problem.

  • Launa says:

    I do think that State parks do it right, I agree with picking up after your pet, but there also needs to be addiquiate trash receptacles, not just in/around dog walking areas but along trails too!

  • Colleen says:

    1)And pick up your doggie do asap.
    2)make sure your pet has clean water
    3) we have a fantastic fan so when we are in a warm climate it keeps our rv safe for our pup. We also have a kick ass solar panel powers this so we don’t run down our batteries
    Love this thx for all the tips

  • Cheri Hamilton says:

    Good idea. They make awesome small pet tents too. I’m going to try one of those.

  • Cheri Hamilton says:

    If were traveling for several hours, I have a harness and leash to give her some exercise.

  • Cheri Hamilton says:

    We leave the TV on when we go out to eat or to an event. If we are traveling, and the weather is nice, she stays in the pickup. If it’s hot out, we leave the pickup running with the air on and take an extra set of keys with us. Never been a problem.

  • Cheri Hamilton says:

    That would be a challenge. Sounds like a beautiful bird. Didn’t know that about the passports for animals. Still, can’t leave them home. Part of the family.

  • Cheri Hamilton says:

    We’ve done this for 10 years. It will be fine. Never had a problem except one time he locked us out of the pickup while we were unloading. (We always wait to take the cat out of the pickup until we are set up and have the air on in the camper.) On star got it open but we carry the extra set of keys when we set up. Lesson learned.

  • Catherine Evans says:

    We are going to attempt to take our cat with us and see how he does. We do not want to stop traveling and want to take him along.

  • Margie says:

    I do this as well Especially so they are not sitting at windows barking at other dogs or neighbors as they pass. They lay down and relax, and sleep.

  • Kathy says:

    I love this idea, and reasons behind it. Also I think at least with my dog they will be less stressed. That is his safe place at home now I just need to find the door!

  • Kitty says:

    Love the idea of posting your cell phone number, so you can be connected easily and quickly if needed.

  • Dawn says:

    You mean valley fever. Symptoms don’t present for months. Then when you head home the local vets know nothing about valley fever. VF is a very low risk in winter when snowbirds visit. Summer monsoons get the VF going. Definitely don’t want to be outside as they roll in. Human and pets are at risk.

  • SC says:

    Leaving out trash receptacles along trails could quickly become problematic with wildlife, Carry extra zip lock bags to pack out pet messes

  • Liz Wilcox says:

    Hey Colleen! I so agree! Pick up after your pet and always make sure they have clean water.

    Fantastic fans are amazing!! Tell me more about your solar panels. 🙂

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