Puppy laying in grass outside of RVs

Expert Advice

Paws On The Road: The Unexpected Adventure Of RVing With A New Puppy

Hit the road with your new puppy after checking out these best practices by Scott Russell!

RVing is a great way to travel while packing up and taking your precious fur babies along for the adventure. But what about traveling with a brand-new puppy? You may think we are crazy for making this choice, but read on to see what RV travel is like with a baby pup on board!

Never Say Never

"I will never get a new dog while RVing" are the words that frequently came out of my lips each time our teenage daughter begged to get a dog. You see, our daughter has wanted a puppy her whole life, and it has simply never been the right time. After all, we travel a lot, and who needs another responsibility, like a new puppy?

Well, the joke is now clearly on me because, for her 14th birthday, I caved in and said yes to the puppy. The truth is, the parental guilt has been kicking in for some time now we are. If we are going to have a family pet, there are only a few more years left that she is still home with us to do so. Despite every obligation building inside of me against RVing with a puppy, we added a new fluffy French Bulldog to our family RV this summer named Oliver.

Whose Dog Is This REALLY?

Of course, this dog was to be my daughter's dog and HER responsibility to care for. Well, we all know too well who is actually caring for the dog. It's been 20 years since my wife and I had a puppy in the house. I forgot just how much work they are, and it is making us both feel very old. Getting up in the middle of the night to take out the puppy feels just like the early days with a new baby at home. We are too old for this business!

Why RVing With A Puppy Is A Bit Different From Being At Home

By now, you may be wondering how getting a puppy in an RV is different from getting a puppy in a house. The answer is: a lot! Our family loves to go-go-go all day and night out exploring during our RV travels, and now we are extremely limited on the amount of time that we can be gone. Getting a puppy has a large impact on how we travel. 

There is also no private fenced-in yard to potty train the puppy in while staying in campgrounds. While some RVers use collapsible dog gates in their campsites, most of the campgrounds we have stayed at since getting our puppy don't allow these to be used. If you travel with a dog, always check to see if these fences are allowed, as well as any other campground rules regarding staying with pets.

Pet RV Safety

Since we have a heat-sensitive breed dog, we instantly felt nervous when leaving our puppy alone in the RV. What if the power were to go out, and it got too hot inside while we were gone? One of the first things we purchased was a temperature monitor that sends us a text message if it gets too hot inside the RV or if the power goes out. This way, we always know our puppy is safe while we are away. This is a must-have for any RV pet owner!

Besides protecting your fur baby from power loss and excessive heat in the RV, another concern we instantly felt was worry about him getting lost. When you travel in your RV, your pet never knows where his home is in the same way it does in a house. While we microchipped Oliver and have a collar tag with all of our info on it, we are looking into options that include a locator tag to help find him if he gets out and is lost unexpectedly.

Of course, no one did the research around here to realize that French Bulldogs shouldn't do stairs due to a potential spine condition. We also found out after the fact how heat-sensitive they are. So here we are, carrying the little angel up and down our RV stairs every hour to potty train during a Florida summer RV trip. Talk about hot and exhausting. You never realize just how much you go in and out of your RV until trying to potty train a puppy.

Since our living space is smaller, we also must walk the dog much more frequently to make sure he gets enough exercise and room to run. The small space actually hasn't been much of an issue compared to going up and down the stairs all day long. Pad training could be a great option for RVing, but we found trying to teach him to go inside on the pad or outside in the yard was confusing to him. We only have one little area of carpet in our RV under the kitchen table, and guess where he, of course, chooses to mess!

Pet safety on RV travel days is another concern that we needed to find a solution for. A loose pet in the truck or RV can create a dangerous, large flying projectile if you need to slam on your breaks. For our family's safety in the truck as well as our puppy's, we found a dog car seat that securely attaches his dog harness to the truck seat while going down the road. This seat also serves as a booster that raises him high enough to see out of the window while we are rolling along, which helps keep him calmer in the seat. We have also found it helpful to keep a collapsible silicone dog water bowl with us on travel days so we can give him a quick drink when needed.

Do We Regret This Decision?

Based on what I have shared with you so far, you may be thinking we are regretting getting the puppy since it has added additional work to our travels. That couldn't be farther from the truth! I couldn't be more in love with little Oliver. Although he is supposed to be our girl's dog, he is now my travel partner. He has me wrapped around his little paw! As we are moving past the initial puppy months, he is adjusting very well to traveling in the RV and to being a part of our family.

RVing with a puppy is a bit more work, but it is worth it. Getting a puppy used to new places, meeting lots of people, and being in the RV while it is still young creates a more flexible, go-with-the-flow personality so it can be your lifelong travel buddy. RVing is a great way to still enjoy being able to travel while also bringing your pets along for the adventure.

Scott, Van, and their 14-year-old daughter started RVing 8 years ago. They have worked, homeschooled, and vacationed through 42 states so far. https://theadventuredetour.com/ 

The Adventure Detour

The Adventure Detour

Scott, Vanessa, and their 13-year-old daughter have traveled full-time in their RV for 8 years. They have worked and homeschooled on the road through 42 states so far. They blog about RVing tips, travel destinations, jobs for RVing, and the full-time RV lifestyle on their blogs https://theadventuredetour.com/ and https://rvnomadjobs.com/. They are also RV content creators @theadventuredetour on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube. They love connecting with RVers, so be sure to reach out to them and say hi!