You may have seen over on our social media accounts that we recently got a new puppy. Her name is Resa, which means “to travel” in Swedish, and she will indeed be traveling with us early this summer on our RVing adventure. We’ve never camped with such a young puppy, though, so I’m sure we will have lots to learn. Thankfully we have had a lot of experience camping and RVing with our other two dogs, who have been awesome travelers. (We are hoping Resa will be too!) Below is an older post highlighting some of our favorite tips for camping and RVing with dogs.
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From time to time we get emails from readers with great questions related to camping and RVing. Some of those questions we have turned into blog posts over the years. So if you have questions, send us an email, and if it is something other readers would be interested in, we may post our response over on the blog as well. First up, a question from Jennifer about camping with dogs:
We just bought a hybrid travel trailer. We are very excited since we are both teachers and have the summer off. I have been doing a lot of research and came across your site. The one thing I’m nervous about is traveling with the dogs. They are 1 now but still puppies. How do you choose places to go that are good with dogs? Some say dog friendly but when you read fine print on policies they are really strict and dogs can’t go anywhere. Do you ever leave them in camper and go somewhere? I saw you have a crate. Any info would be great. Thanks.
Great question, Jennifer. We have camped with our dogs from the time Sydney (our late Golden Retriever) was an older puppy, and Olive (our Goldendoodle) came along on her first camping trip just a few months after we adopted her. We have rarely NOT had the dog(s) with us–but their presence does require a few more considerations when it comes to campgrounds and touring adventures. So below are some thoughts on how we plan with our pets in mind.
How to choose where to go
The first step when choosing a campground is to see whether it accepts pets. Private campgrounds will advertise this usually on their Frequently Asked Questions pages. Public campgrounds usually have a search function to see whether they have pet sites, or sometimes there will be an icon on the main page indicating whether pets are allowed. I will often call the campground to verify that pets are accepted BEFORE I make any online reservations. That is also a good time to clarify whether the campground has any restrictions on the type of breed, size, or number of pets.
Even if the campground accepts pets, many campgrounds have specific pet loops or pet sites, so you need to make sure that the loop or site you choose is considered pet friendly. Online you can generally view a campground map that will have a map key showing you where in the campground pets are permitted.
Leaving pets alone in the camper
We have often had to leave our dogs in the camper while we are out touring or exploring an area. While we are gone, Sydney did not need to be in a crate but Olive tends to have some separation anxiety issues so we choose to crate her while we are away. We have had several crates in the past but we love the L.L. Bean collapsible crate because of its size when collapsed and its ease of use. (If you have a chewer, though, it might not be the best option since it is made from material–albeit a heavy duty material.)
Before we leave the dogs, we make sure they have eaten, gone to the bathroom, have fresh water available, have a chew toy, and are safely secured in a crate or behind the pet gate.
- adjust the camper’s thermostat so that they will be comfortable while we are gone;
- turn on our camper radio, putting it at a level high enough to provide background noise, but not so loud that it would disturb our camping neighbors;
- and lock our camper.
Leaving your dog alone in the camper may not be feasible for dogs that are prone to anxiety and barking while their owners are away. You will not have happy camper neighbors if you leave for three hours and your dog barks the entire time. (And many campgrounds reserve the right to evict you if your pets are a nuisance to others.)
In her younger years Olive was quite a barker (thankfully she outgrew that stage!). The first trip we took her on, we were concerned she might have a hard time and bark incessantly while we were gone–and the campground we were staying at made it very clear that disruptive dogs would result in eviction. So before we arrived, we called the campground to ask for a recommendation for a reputable kennel–i.e., doggy daycare–in the area. We were able to make day-time reservations for Olive for the two days we were going to be off touring the area. We just had to make sure we got her the kennel cough vaccination before we left on our trip.
Before another of our trips we had investigated and experimented with a citronella bark collar–a gentle alternative to shock collars. She would often bark so much that she depleted the citronella canister quickly–and she didn’t seem to be especially phased by the smell. Meanwhile the area around her was quite fragrant. Ugh. So for her it wasn’t a good fit, but for other pet owners we have talked to, citronella collars have worked well, so this might be another good option for keeping your dog(s) quiet while you are away from your camper. I would recommend testing it out before your trip, however. If the citronella doesn’t phase your dog, then it may not solve your problem but leave you with another: a very odoriferous camper!
On our trip to Philadelphia a couple summers ago, we wanted to spend the day in the city exploring the national landmarks and other spots. But we were concerned about leaving the dogs for too many hours. We found the perfect solution in the form of a KOA that offered a pet walking service. For a small fee (at the time it was $5 per dog, per walk), you could set up to have a campground staff member come let your dog out while you were away for the day. This was a simple solution so we could enjoy our day in the city worry-free. Since then we have discovered many other private campgrounds offer similar services, so if you are planning a day trip away from the campground, staying at a private campground with pet services might be a good idea.
Campground etiquette with pets
Most campground etiquette with pets is simple common sense:
- Keep your pet on a leash whenever it is outside of the camper. While many people love pets and don’t mind a friendly doggie greeting, others are not so thrilled. When the dogs aren’t on a leash for walks, we sometimes use a longer lead and a stake in the campsite. The stake has to be carefully positioned to prevent people from tripping AND the dog from getting tangled–even with careful placement you may still have some issues. 🙂 This usually works best in places where you have a large campsite area.
- Clean up after your dog. Not all campgrounds have bags stations to clean up after your dog so we always have extra plastic shopping bags that we keep in the camper storage compartment. A baby wipes container works great for keeping them all in one place.
- Keep your dog quiet. If you have a barker, that might mean leaving him/her in the camper so he/she isn’t constantly barking at everyone who walks by.
- Don’t leave your pet unattended in your campsite. If you are leaving your campsite area, secure your dog in your camper before you leave. This is safer for them and ensures they don’t get into trouble while you are away.
Helpful pet gear for camping
Aside from dog food, bowls, a dog bed, chew toy, and a collapsible crate, here are a few more items you might find helpful:
- Flea and tick medicine: We once stopped to let Sydney go the bathroom at a roadside rest. When Jarrett came back from the grassy area, his pants were speckled with ticks, and yet Sydney (who was on flea and tick medicine) did not have one tick on her. We became firm believers that day in the power of flea and tick medicine!
- A leash and stake (as mentioned above)
- Up-to-date ID tag or microchipping
- A copy of the dog’s up-to-date vaccination record (this may be needed if you are crossing state lines or country borders).
So those are some of the ways we have integrated our pets into our camping adventures. What tips would you add? Be sure to check out our Pinterest page “Camping with Pets”, where we are pinning additional ideas and tips for camping with your furry friends.
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