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Solo RV travel can be – well – lonely. After spending five months on the road solo, I adopted my Husky, but I quickly realized you need some creative RV hacks for dogs to keep them comfortable in a small, often not-so-well-insulated space.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make your pooch comfortable on the road. From heating and cooling solutions to beds to pet temperature monitors for RVs, the right approach will have your furry friend itching (in a good way!) for your next RV trip.
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RV Hacks for Dogs: 12 Ways to Make Your Pooch Comfortable On the Road
Install the Waggle Pet Temperature Monitor
Some newer RVs have Bluetooth-enabled thermostats you can monitor and program from your smartphone. But for older RVs, van conversions, and everyone else, the Waggle Pet Temperature Monitor is the best way to track the climate inside your RV.
If you have to leave your dog inside alone while you get groceries or hop out to check into an RV park, you need the peace of mind to know things aren’t heating up to dangerous temperatures for your fur baby.
Waggle’s pet temperature monitor can easily be installed anywhere in your RV with a peel-and-stick bracket that the monitor itself snaps and clicks into. From there, you’ll just download the Waggle app, register your monitor, and choose your preferred subscription.
Once your Waggle pet temperature monitor is set up, you can program your settings for real-time updates and text alerts on your RV’s temperature and humidity. It also includes power loss sensors to tell you if your RV loses power, which would compromise your air conditioner or any fans plugged into RV outlets.
What’s amazing about Waggle is that you don’t need to be connected to WiFi for the device to work. RV Parks have notoriously bad WiFi signals, so you’ll be happy to learn that Waggle operates through a built-in cellular network.
You can even program the Waggle to send alerts to friends or family when your pet is in danger. After all, they do say it takes a community to raise a well-mannered fur baby!
Cover the Bed and Furniture
Okay, so this one might be more about your comfort than your pups. But if you’re not comfortable, how can they be? Plus, I know my dog gets a little itchy when I haven’t cleaned the hair off the bedspread for a few days.
If you let your dog sleep in bed with you, or lounge there during the day, a waterproof bed cover makes everyone more comfortable. You can easily take it off and shake it out each day to remove pet hair, instead of having it accumulate on your comforter.
For dogs that have free range to curl up on sofas, dinette cushions, theater seats, and other RV furniture, furniture covers are essential to make them more comfortable – and to make your job easier when it comes to cleaning and maintaining your RV.
Furniture covers are also a smart RV hack for dogs because they help you keep your furniture in good shape. That protects your RV’s resale value so you can get the most return on your investment when, and if, you decide to sell and upgrade.
Set Up a Dog Bed
An even better solution to the “my bed is filled with dog hair” issue is to give your pup its own dedicated bed in your RV. The right place to set up your dog bed depends on your RV’s floor plan.
Some ideas include at the foot of your “human” bed, under the dinette, or in the transition from the cab to the living area if you have a motorhome.
For cold-weather camping, there are also heated dog beds that plug into an AC outlet to keep your dog warm on cold winter nights.
Add a Cooling Dog Mat
Take things a step further if you’re camping in the heat and humidity by outfitting your RV with a cooling dog mat. You can place this mat inside or outside underneath your RV awning to give your dog a cool place to lie down and lower its body temperature.
The mat utilizes a cooling gel formula that activates when your dog lays on the mat. The mat’s cooling effect lasts for up to three hours and automatically recharges in just 15-20 minutes after your dog stands up.
Secure the Food and Water Bowls
I know I get cranky if I’m hungry or dehydrated. And while I also know my dog is much more patient than I am, securing her water bowl and food bowl is still important to keep her comfortable in our RV.
Remember that anything that isn’t tied down, inside a compartment, or otherwise secured will shift during RV travel. Ensure you don’t have water spilling all over or food escaping from its container with the proper storage and feeding solutions.
Pro tip: Try to avoid leaving dog food out inside your RV if your pup doesn’t eat it right away, as it can attract wild animals. For the same reason, transfer dog food from the bag into a sealed container before storing it in your RV.
Create a Campsite Dog Run
RVers know that the work really begins when you reach your campsite. It takes some time to get your RV set up and ready for you and your dog to relax.
The tricky part of camping with a dog is that your RV setup time tends to overlap with your dog’s unbridled desire to sniff all the smells at your new campsite.
Personally, I like to take my dog for a quick walk once I park my trailer in a campground. I might jockey it around later, but it’s important for us to get our jollies out and get a lay of the land when we first arrive.
After that walk, however, I set up a dog run or lead line where my dog can lounge outside while I reposition and set up the trailer. Then, I already have a line set up for when I’m cooking outside or relaxing around the campfire later.
Pro tip: Always check campground rules for leash regulations and other rules.
Put Up a Pet Fence
An alternative to the dog run is to create your own fenced-in yard on your campsite to give your dog its own safe space and keep wild animals out – at least the small ones.
This tends to work better for a small dog, as most dog fences for RVs are relatively short and can be jumped or pushed over by a larger dog.
For small dogs, it allows you to open the door and let your dogs outside for a potty break, just like you would if you had a yard at home. It may also make your fellow campsite dwellers feel more comfortable to visually see your dog restrained if they’re not dog people…but that’s their loss!
Plan Your Road Trip to Hit Dog Parks
Traveling between RV destinations requires a bit more planning when you have a dog to keep comfortable. One of my favorite hacks is to find gas stations near dog parks to achieve gas and water refills and potty breaks without making too many stops.
It gives your pup time to stretch its legs, use the restroom, and even meet other dogs. It can be tough to feel comfortable with strange dog parks, depending on how social your dog is. But the good news is you can easily pack up and move on if you and your best friend aren’t vibing with any specific dog park.
Find Dog-Friendly Campsites
Most RV parks and campgrounds these days have dog parks as a standard amenity. There are pros and cons to finding that type of campground, as they give you chances to meet fellow campers and build community, but often cost more and offer less room to spread out.
National parks are also very popular RV destinations, but they don’t tend to be the best for camping with dogs. Many don’t allow dogs on trails, meaning you’ll have to learn your dog unattended in your air-conditioned RV if you want to explore a hiking trail.
This article is great for identifying many national parks with minimal dog restrictions.
Boondocking is a great alternative for RV life with dogs because they’ll often have ample National Forest or Bureau of Land Management terrain to explore right from your campsite. If your dog is off-leash trained, off-grid RV camping is the way to go.
Service Your RV’s Heating and Cooling Systems
Your RV’s furnace, air conditioner(s), and possibly electric fireplace must be maintained properly to help regulate its internal temperature to keep you and your pooch comfortable.
Servicing these heating and air conditioning systems regularly should be done whether you have dogs or not, to be honest.
Fortunately, keeping your RV clean is one of the best things you can do for these systems. That means vacuuming up pet hair so your furnace’s intake doesn’t get clogged, as well as cleaning the filter on your air conditioner.
If you travel with two dogs, do these simple cleaning tasks after each trip so dust, pet hair, and other debris don’t accumulate and potentially cause bigger issues.
Supplement your Heating and Cooling Systems
For camping in the winter, consider supplementing your RV furnace with an electric space heater. Find one that’s rated for RV use and never leave your space heater running unattended. But if you use it safely, it’s a great way to keep your RV warm and cozy for camping with dogs.
For camping in the summer, there are a couple of additional accessories you can consider. One is a battery-operated fan that doesn’t need to pull from your RV’s battery to circulate air inside your RV. Improving airflow makes a major difference on hot, sticky summer days.
Another is a dehumidifier to help you reduce the humidity in your RV to a comfortable level. Not only will your dogs thank you, but you’ll also deal with fewer moisture-related issues, such as mold and mildew growth.
Create Your RV Routine
Most dogs love routine, and I sure know mine gets a little anxious every time I pack up the trailer to relocate. Creating a routine to get your dog accustomed to your RV lifestyle might be the most important thing you do to keep your pooch comfortable.
If your dog is used to a long walk in the morning, stick to that same routine when you’re RV camping. Adhere to normal feeding times as much as possible and, perhaps, most importantly, take the opportunities to socialize at dog parks or on the trail.
Dogs are the ultimate icebreaker, so you never know how your dog might give you a chance to socialize too, especially if you’re a solo RVer!
Conclusion on RV Hacks for Dogs
When it comes to keeping Fido, Buck, or, in my case, Marley, comfortable, you may need to employ several of these RV hacks for dogs. Here’s some other useful pet-related content for more tips for RVing with pets:
- RVing with Dogs: 9 Must-See Tips from RVing and Dog Experts
- The 5 Best RV Pet Temperature Monitors to Keep Your Pet Safe While RV Camping
- Van Life with Dogs: 15 Tips for You and Your Fur Baby
Do you have other RV hacks for dogs we didn’t mention? Share them in the comments!