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10 Tips For RVing With Large Dogs

Published on December 11th, 2023 by Emily Lawrence

6 breeds of large dogs shown in a row.

RVing With Large Dogs Can Be a Big Challenge

We all love our furry friends, so it’s only natural that we want to bring them along on our RV adventures! If you live in an RV year-round, this is even more important. If your pets are small and easy to travel with, that solves a lot of problems. But if you have to accommodate the needs of large dogs, things get a little more complicated. Plenty of people have found ways to bring their dogs along as camping buddies, no matter how big they are. If you have a plus-sized pup that’s ready for adventure, check out the tips below so you can all have a safe, happy, and healthy trip. There’s no reason to leave your dog behind when you hit the road!

Make a crate space in the RV for large dogs

It’s important for every dog to have personal space within the RV. This is sometimes tricky, especially if you have a small layout. A kennel will give your dog a feeling of consistency as you travel, plus it will keep them safe while you drive. It’s dangerous for everyone if they’re wandering the cabin! Finding an appropriate spot for large dogs can be hard, but you can place the crate in the bedroom or tuck it underneath the dinette table. Try to use a space that’s accessible even when the slide outs are retracted. If you need to spend the night with the slide outs in, your dog should still be able to get into their crate. 

Provide entertainment/enrichment

Large dogs tend to be quite strong, so they can wreak havoc on your RV if you aren’t careful! The stress of traveling makes everything worse, so be sure to provide some healthy outlets for your four-legged friends. Bring along some of their favorite toys so they can chew on them when they get bored. Treats, bones, and puzzle feeders are another great way to keep them busy! If your dog is focused on food, they won’t worry as much about the moving vehicle. Keeping your dog entertained will protect your furniture, floors, and peace of mind. 

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Use ramps and steps at the entrance

Every passenger needs to have easy access to the entrance/exit of the RV. This includes your dogs! Sometimes RV doors are higher than they’re used to, so they may be skittish about getting in and out. This problem is heightened if your dog has a nervous personality or health issues. Many large dogs experience joint pain as they get older, so it’s important to help them out as much as possible. If you provide a step or a small ramp, you can reduce the strain on their legs. Try to get your dog accustomed to using these aides. Plus, they will be more confident about entering and exiting the vehicle. You won’t need to move them yourself, which is a blessing for those with large dogs. 

Remove carpet

Most RVs come with linoleum, wood, or tile floors. However, some have carpeted sections. This can be nice, but it’s problematic once you introduce a dog to the equation. It’s not their fault, but dogs tend to be messy! They shed, drool, scratch, and track dirt inside. Large dogs with thick coats can leave an even bigger mess than other breeds. Carpet is much harder to clean compared to hard floors, so it’s better to remove it entirely. Luckily, RV carpeting isn’t too hard to remove, so this is a fairly easy fix. 

Find pet-friendly campgrounds ahead of time

A lot of campgrounds and RV parks are pet friendly. The owners understand that their guests love to bring canine companions along for the ride. However, this isn’t a given! Some parks may ban pets altogether, while others have breed/size restrictions. They are allowed to set these rules and you’ll need to follow them. 

This is why it’s essential to research the places you’ll be staying ahead of time. You can’t take it for granted that your park of choice will be pet-friendly. If they refuse service to you, you may have to find a parking lot to spend the night instead, and this isn’t fun for anyone. Try to find locations that will be great for your dog’s needs! Places with walking trails, dog parks, enclosed runs, and other accommodations will be great. 

Tire them out before traveling

Traveling is stressful for dogs. They may express it in different ways, but most animals don’t enjoy being enclosed in a small moving space for hours on end. Large dogs can cause a lot of chaos and destruction if they have too much energy, so it’s important to tire them out if you have a long drive ahead of you. Let your dog get all their energy out. You can take them to a dog park, go dock diving, or just play with their toys. Fetch and tug of war are wonderful ways to exhaust a dog. A tired dog is a happy dog!

Take regular potty breaks

Of course, dogs will still need to relieve themselves. Keep track of your dog’s usual schedule so you can follow it as closely as possible. The stress of traveling will only be heightened if they have to hold it in for longer than usual. Even if it’s inconvenient for you, take regular stops for walks and bathroom breaks. This will be good for you as well! Stretching your legs always feels good and it will keep your dog calm. A sense of consistency and routine never hurts. 

Vacuum frequently with large dogs

We’ve already discussed flooring, but pet hair can still be an issue once the carpeting has been removed. It can build up on the floors, stick to furniture, and even float in the air. If you have long-haired dogs and allergies are an issue for you, this will be a nightmare. Vacuuming often will help resolve this issue. There are lots of dog-specific vacuums that are great at picking up hair and dander. Just run them over high-traffic areas once a day and call it good! The Bissel Pet Hair Eraser is a good option if you need something small. You can do a deep clean from time to time, but consistently vacuuming will make big difference. You can also use an air purifier to capture floating dander and reduce your allergies. 

Monitor the temperature

Keeping your RV at a safe temperature is crucial. Sometimes you will have to leave your furry friend behind when you run errands. If you don’t take the proper precautions, they can easily overheat. Dehydration and heatstroke can be deadly to dogs, so you can’t let them get too hot. Start by monitoring the temperature in your RV. Pair a digital thermometer with your phone so you can check it whenever you want. Most RVs can be operated remotely, so you can adjust the temperature if your dog is getting too hot or too cold. This will keep them safe and happy while you’re away.

Train your large dogs well

Every dog that travels in an RV needs a certain level of discipline. It’s crucial for large dogs though. They can easily hurt other dogs, wildlife, or children if they aren’t kept in line. Keep your dog on a leash (even if you’re confident in their obedience) and ensure that they know basic commands. Sit, stay, and heel are the necessities! “Drop it” will also come in handy if they get into things that they shouldn’t. 

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2 thoughts on “10 Tips For RVing With Large Dogs”

  1. They tend to exclude medium to larger dogs. The issue with this is we have been attacked two times by little dogs. Never have had a problem with larger dogs. The little ones are the ones who have issues.

  2. We travel with two Old English Sheepdogs. Since they have hair and not fur, the mess isn’t as bad. They do track in lots of sand so sweeping multiple times a day is a must. Our brothers like lots of exercise keeping us on the go in any weather. My tip is leaving a radio turned on inside the camper, it seems to calm them. They also seem to like country more than rock and pop.


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