RV Camping With Canines

Teddy's ready to give you a tour of the campgrounds
Teddy's ready to give you a tour of the campgrounds

Not really the outdoorsy types

I'm not really a "nature girl." I don't garden, I don't hike in the nearby forest preserve, I definitely don't jog. Which is okay with Teddy, my four-year-old French Bulldog. Because Frenchies aren't really known for being great hiking companions. Bulldogs in general are better-known for inertia than movement of any kind.

So why did I embark on camping as a vacation option? Because I love my dogs and it's the best way I've found to bring them along on vacation. While many hotels are now "pet-friendly," there is often a pet fee and rules that are somewhat difficult to comply with - such as never leaving the dog unattended in the room. Which makes a simple thing like going out for a meal rather impossible.

Knight's Key Campground is "The Fun Island"
Knight's Key Campground is "The Fun Island"
Teddy and Roc (Brussels Griffon) in their exercise pen. With cots, of course!
Teddy and Roc (Brussels Griffon) in their exercise pen. With cots, of course!
Many RVers, especially those who stay for several weeks or months, personalize their camp sites with decorations. Teddy was particularly taken with this school of fish windsocks.
Many RVers, especially those who stay for several weeks or months, personalize their camp sites with decorations. Teddy was particularly taken with this school of fish windsocks.

Luxury camping is my style

In my younger days, my idea of "roughing it" on vacation was when the bathroom was down the hall.

It still is.

That's one of the reasons that a motorhome or RV (recreational vehicle) is an ideal choice for people who aren't "outdoorsy." It has all the conveniences we cherish: indoor plumbing, refrigerator, comfy mattress, and air conditioning. Air conditioning may seem like a luxury - but at our favorite campground, Knight's Key in Marathon, Florida, it's a necessity, especially for people with brachycephalic (short-faced) dogs. One of the rules here at Knight's Key is that dogs are only allowed in campers/motorhomes that are air-conditioned. Tent campers are not allowed to have their dogs on site. It's simply too hot, too humid, and dangerous for dogs.

Bringing the dogs is my number one reason for camping vacations. Like me, more and more people are choosing to bring their dogs with them on vacation. Boarding dogs or hiring a pet-sitter can be a major expense, and a cause of worry. Dogs are creatures of habit and love routine. And we love spending time with our dogs. One of the reasons we have them is as companions in our leisure time.

Another of the rules, a common one at campgrounds, is that dogs must be leashed and/or under control at all times. Many people use tie-outs to keep their dogs in their campsites, but I prefer to use an exercise pen - a collapsible, metal enclosure. X-pens, as they're called, vary in height and length. Some even have little doors or gates to make moving the dogs in and out as easy as possible.

I also like to use a mat or ground cloth under the x-pen. Even though my dogs are protected with flea and tick prevention, I don't want them picking up any insect life.


Dog ownership in the U.S.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, over a third of households in the U.S. own dogs - that's over 43 million households with dogs.

And of those, more than half own more than one dog. In 2012, the last year that statistics are available, there were approximately 69,926,000 pet dogs in the U.S.

That's a lot of kibbles and bits!

Be a good neighbor - and a good camper

The same rules you enforce for your dog at home apply to the campground as well.

Always supervise your dog when he's outside. Campsites can be fairly close together and your neighbors may not appreciate visits from your dog, no matter how adorable he may be. Keep your dog on-leash, tethered, or in an x-pen.

Always clean up after your dog.

Keep your dog as quiet as possible - you may appreciate his conversational skills, but other campers may not.

Be sure you know where dogs are allowed in the campgrounds and where they are not. At our favorite campground, dogs are not allowed in a large field that's reserved for tent camping.

If your dog reacts unfavorably to other dogs, be aware of your surroundings. Try to avoid taking walks by other campsites that have tethered dogs. And bring plenty of treats on your walks to distract your dog and keep his focus on you. I always like to bring a treat bag along.


Ted tours the campground

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Be considerate of your camping neighbors - keep your dog as quiet as possible and always clean up after him.A campsite at the water's edge is always nice.Flat-faced, nosy dogs will appreciate a shady spot.Teddy enjoying the sunshine and ocean breezes.The marina at the campground is a great place to watch the world go by - and the manatees visit.Pausing to enjoy the sunshine on a walk around the campgrounds.
Be considerate of your camping neighbors - keep your dog as quiet as possible and always clean up after him.
Be considerate of your camping neighbors - keep your dog as quiet as possible and always clean up after him.
A campsite at the water's edge is always nice.
A campsite at the water's edge is always nice.
Flat-faced, nosy dogs will appreciate a shady spot.
Flat-faced, nosy dogs will appreciate a shady spot.
Teddy enjoying the sunshine and ocean breezes.
Teddy enjoying the sunshine and ocean breezes.
The marina at the campground is a great place to watch the world go by - and the manatees visit.
The marina at the campground is a great place to watch the world go by - and the manatees visit.
Pausing to enjoy the sunshine on a walk around the campgrounds.
Pausing to enjoy the sunshine on a walk around the campgrounds.

Essentials for travelling with dogs

 
 
 
Health records
Vaccination records
Medication
Identification tags with your cell phone number and a recent picture
Sufficient supply of his regular food
Treats
Dog toys
Dog bowls (including one for water)
Leash and collar
Flashlight (so you can clean up after dark)
Poop bags
Spare leash (just in case)
A complete list of recommendations is available from the American Kennel Club: http://www.akc.org/public_education/travel_tips.cfm

Tips for tent-camping with dogs

© 2014 HopeS

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Have you taken your dog camping? 2 comments

HopeS profile image

HopeS 2 years ago from Skokie, Illinois Author

I highly recommend it! Dogs are perfect vacation companions!


DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 2 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

Great pictures of Teddy enjoying the campsite! I am more of a stay-at-home type, since I live where others go to vacation, but at times I feel like taking my dogs up to the mountains. This sounds like a great way to get away from it all, since I would only do so with my favorite companions.

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