When we bought our travel trailer a year ago, we purchased it with the intention of being able to travel with our two Labrador Retrievers, Bailey (7) and Remington (1). Since we got the RV, we’ve been on 15 camping trips the dogs have joined us for the majority of them!
Part of the reason the dogs weren’t on every camping trip is that Bailey doesn’t like to be left alone and is leash reactive and Remington has anxiety. Over time though, we’ve been able to take them on more and more trips and have learned what does and doesn’t work for us along the way.
A few items from our Amazon List that makes camping with dogs easier –
- Crate – We have a collapsable crate for Remington that we bring on our trips. While he’s great outside of his crate when someone can watch him, he’s not yet ready to sleep overnight outside of it. He would likely find some things to chew in the camper. We have this crate from the list solely for camping and it’s worked out great.
- Sound Machine – This is more for Bailey than Remington. Teddy got her before I met him and he’s her third home, so she has some separation anxiety and doesn’t like knowing you left without her. So she will bark something awful when she hears voices or other dogs so the sound machine as well as keeping the blinds down and lights off helps when we leave the camper.
- Kong – This one is all Remington. He used to hate car rides when he was little. Over time we got him to enjoy a kong on the ride. Now, we use a frozen kong with some peanut butter, food, and bananas or other goodies to keep him occupied while we set up or tear down camp. We give him the Kong in the car when Teddy starts backing into the site and Rem is occupied with it until I put the slide out and get his crate inside (about 30 minutes).
- Car Cover – A must have in the car with dogs. Especially for Remington so peanut butter from his kong isn’t all over the seats.
- Place – We use this dog bed as Rem’s place. He uses it in the car and then in the camper. He knows it’s all his and gives him a place outside of his crate only for him.
- Cameras – We’ve only used these once in the camper so far when we were at a Penn State game, but if the campground has reliable wifi, using the Blink cameras to make sure the dogs are fine gives peace of mind.
- Harness – Anytime we take Remington out, since he’s almost 100 pounds, we have him on the harness. This has been the only one that works for him and doesn’t have him pulling on it. Around the campground, hiking – wherever we go he’s on this and we love it.
Other tips for camping with dogs through trial and error –
- Practice – If you’re new to camping, don’t take the dogs on the first trip if you can help it. Figuring out set up on your own is enough to handle. On our first trip we took no dogs. On the second trip, we took only Bailey. Remington was still around a year old and had some anxiety so being around a lot of strangers or dogs was not ideal for him. We did some training with him over the winter so we could take him camping this year and it was great.
- Local camping – We’ve camped within 30 minutes of our house on a handful of trips. While the dogs have done 5 hour car rides, a short distance and then setting up camp is less stressful for them and still enjoyable for us. Don’t be afraid to camp close to home.
- Stock the RV – I have an extra bowl for each dog, a few toys, treats, waste bags, water bowl, and more just for the RV. This way I don’t have to pack all of that up every weekend. I usually just have to pack their leashes, harnesses, food, and bed.
- Have a List – I have a list on my iPhone that I reuse for each camping trip that has the dog supplies on it. Sometimes I add something to it but overall the same list is used every time.
- Space – When we purchased our RV we knew we’d need a crate for Remington. So we brought the measurements to make sure that we could have a spot for his crate that wouldn’t prohibit us from moving around freely in the RV. Luckily it fit in the RV we liked most, but for us this was a non negotiable. We knew we wanted the dogs to come with us and at this point, we needed a crate for at least Rem. Once you have the crate, use a bathroom rug under the dog crate so it doesn’t scratch up the floor.
- Car Prep – If you are camping and need to travel a few hours, have your car stocked with a collapsable water bowl, water, extra treats and dog waste bags and even some food. This way you don’t have to access the camper for your items, you have them right with you.
- Sites – For us, we prefer a more secluded or site with trees over one out in the open. This is less distracting for the dogs when they’re outside or even inside. You can often choose your sites on camp websites, so we try to pick those with more trees or neighbors only on one side.
- Dog Parks – We tend to not use the dog park at a campground unless it’s completely empty. Remington’s a big boy and loves to run and we like to avoid the chance of him knocking over a person or a little dog while he plays. Bailey is particular about where she will walk and go to the bathroom so spaces where many dogs have been is not her idea of fun. We prefer to take the dogs on a hike or on a trail over the dog park.
- KOA Dog Sites – There aren’t many of these, but we’ve stayed at a KOA site that had your own little dog area. I personally don’t recommend it for big dogs since the fence wasn’t as sturdy as I’d hope but little dogs it would be ideal.
When Teddy and I were first preparing to camp with Bailey, and then with both dogs, I was trying to figure out what would be helpful to purchase or how to best set up for the dogs. I didn’t find as many helpful tips online as I had hoped which is why I wrote this blog. My intention is to give ideas and tips for someone who’s looking to camp with their dogs for the first time or just in general. What works for our dogs may not work for yours so take what’s helpful and leave what’s not.
If you have any tips for camping or traveling with dogs, please share.