We always see people bring their dogs when they go camping. I have never done that, but wonder, what do you do with your dog when you go somewhere they can’t go? This then begs the question, how do van lifers manage their furry friends on the road?

First, there are some important steps for preparation. Our dog is very misbehaved and wouldn’t do well in unknown environments at first. So, the first step is a bit of training to socialize your dog and get him used to being in new places and around strangers. Practice taking him out with you on rides. Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations too, because you don’t know what you will run into along the way.

Doggie gear is a must and here is a short list of the essentials. Of course, anyone who takes a dog along while living in their van is bound to a spoil their companion, so feel free to add to this list:

  • Food & water, of course
  • Food and water bowls – collapsible stye bowls are perfect because you can take them along on hikes.
  • Long and short leash: at campsites you will want to tie your dog down so they don’t get into trouble, but on a hike you might want a more traditional length leash.
  • Dog collar with LED light – this is essential for campsites or stops in the dark.
  • Doggie bags – required for responsible pet owner behavior 🙂
  • Fur brush – You and your dog will be in close quarters. If your dog is a breed that sheds, you will want to control the hair as much as possible, or you might find yourself looking a lot like your dog.
  • Toys – Your dog will get bored on long drives. Better to gnaw on dog toys that your belongings.
  • Treats – these are great ice breakers when running into strangers. Keep them in your pocket so doggy fans can make fast friends with your dog.

Keeping Safe is a must for your dog. He depends on you to think ahead and look out for him. Make sure to keep your dog cool, but not cold. It is not safe to leave your dog all day especially in hot weather. But you can make your van comfortable for short stays alone. First test the temperature in your van after 15, then 30 minutes. Find out how fast your van heats up and reacts to humidity. Also, you can install a vent fan in the ceiling that runs off of solar or battery power. Keep windows cracked to create a breeze throughout the van. Use sun shades in the windows and make sure your dog has water. And finally, leave something on the van with your name and number so if something does happen, you can get back quick.

Adventures together – Take your dog along as much as possible. You might think your dog can’t go where you are going, but he might be able to do more than you think. He can go on hikes, to the park, beach, canoeing, boating, outdoor shipping, outdoor restaurants, outdoor games and ice cream stands to name a few.

Pet Sitter – for those rare occasions when you have to go somewhere your companion can’t go, and you don’t want to leave him behind too long, consider finding a doggie daycare. There are reputable dog sitters and daycare in most cities now, that can watch your dog in a comfortable safe environment for a reasonable fee.