Travelling With Your Dog In A Campervan

The ultimate feeling of freedom… going on holiday with your van! 🚐 Many have been dreaming about converting a van and seeing the world. What could be more fun than including your dog in that?

Our previous blog gave you some tips on travelling with your dog. We once had a van and used it to travel with Naya and Duvel. Back then, I didn’t have a blog yet and sadly did not take many pictures during van life. I did, however, learn a lot about what worked well and what didn’t. Whether you rent or buy a fully equipped campervan or convert your own, here are some tips to turn this into the best experience for you and your dog.

Paying attention to a few things is essential, starting with the right campervan. Only some vehicles are designed to take dogs, especially if they are a bit larger. You can pick a suitable model depending on the size of your dog. The built-in furniture should be arranged so that your dog can move freely without risk of injury. The camper should be set so the dog has its place to lie down, and the equipment is adapted to daily life with an animal. This means the surfaces are easy to clean, and the van can be ‘dog-proofed’ (more on this later). Are you renting an RV? Then, the owner must give his approval to bring dogs. Please put this in writing in advance; insurance will cover the damage if you do.

Your dog should have at least the same comfort in your van as at home. After all, your van is your home on wheels. He should have a place where he can retreat and be left alone. That is where he feels most at ease, in his basket or on his familiar blanket.

A small cleaning station is recommended at the entrance. Otherwise, your dog will spread dirt through the small living space in record time (talking from experience, lol 💩). Your essential equipment should be: a large doormat behind the door, a dog towel, and a bottle of water within easy reach. Your cleaning ritual is best practised before your trip begins.

To ensure that your four-legged friend can travel safely, he should be secured during the trip. If there’s already a travel crate that he’s used to in the car, it should be securely clamped in the van. A good alternative is a safety harness where the dog is strapped to a seat with an adapter.

Provide a small feeding station with a built-in water bowl and a fixed place in your van. The feeding station needs a non-slip base and should be emptied before each trip. Remember to offer your dog water regularly during the drive. A good rule is: if you’re thirsty, your dog is too!

A dog first aid kit ⛑ should be on board for emergencies! Medication for vomiting, allergies, pain and everything for wound care. The vet can advise what all belongs to the basic kit. Don’t forget your dog’s daily meds if he’s on anything!

Before the journey begins, give your dog time to adjust. Your four-legged friend should be given plenty of time to look around his new home on wheels. He wants to sniff all the nooks and crannies in peace, discover his feeding and resting place and develop a feel for the room. If there are taboo areas for him (such as the bathroom), this should be introduced immediately on the first tour.

A night of practice before the trip is suitable for your dog. Sleep together in the camper for a night, cook once, and spend some time in the new living space. In doing so, your dog should understand that the vehicle will now become a new safe haven for everyone.

Your dog will become particularly fond of your van because he enjoys it and associates positive experiences with it. 🥰 A short game with his favourite toy (space permitting), a nibble on the new bench or an extended cuddle round will help him associate the vehicle with good experiences.

Despite all the getting used to and preparation, the camper remains a strange environment for your pooch. It cannot be compared to the familiar environment at home. Therefore, he should be left alone in it only in rare cases and only for a short time (e.g. to do some shopping). Otherwise, it can be stressful, whereas it should be a relaxing holiday.

Dog owners should pay attention to order and cleanliness ✨ inside the campervan. Since it’s usually only one room, you must keep the dog out of certain areas, such as the kitchen. If something unpleasant falls or dangerous small items are lying around, he will notice them quicker and may injure or poison himself.

An attentive check is necessary before your dog enters the van. All furnishings and conditions inside should be checked for safety and potential hazards removed. This includes power lines, sharp corners and edges and loose coatings on the floor or walls the dog could nibble on.

Even if you let your dog get away with a lot at home, you should pay special attention to obedience during the trip. The confinement and new stimuli can make living together in an RV extra tiring. A dog that does not stay in place, jumps around between everyone’s legs, or grabs what is not his is an additional stressor.

This unfamiliar way of travelling is exciting for your dog, and he will get stressed sometimes. Your daily walks will significantly reduce his stress level. 🐕 This is because dogs release excess energy increased by stress, mainly through exercise. So don’t drop the walks just because it’s a holiday!

Packaging the usual food is essential to avoid digestive problems during the trip. Sufficient quantities of food should fit in your van. Those who feed their dogs fresh meat (like we do) have a bit of a challenge. In this case, ready-to-eat barf is a solution, but it should be given to your dog a few weeks before the trip to allow the digestive system to get used to it. We usually switch back to kibble while travelling, it’s just easier.

Your four-legged friend needs security to still feel safe in the unfamiliar situation. Routines and set times should, therefore, be observed as much as possible. Above all, familiar feeding times and walking times create a reliable daily structure for the dog, even when he is on the move.

Depending on the country you travel to, you must inform yourself about the regulations before starting your trip. In some countries, for example, dogs need certain vaccinations (such as a topical rabies vaccination) to enter the country. Muzzles are mandatory in some cities or public transport. 🤐 Better be prepared and safe than sorry!

Have fun on your trip, remember to bring your camera! 📸

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