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The 5 BEST RV Modifications for Dogs

People love dogs.

Dogs are furry, loveable, endlessly energetic, and never seem to be anything but thrilled to see you. There’s a reason they’re called man’s best friend. And who wouldn’t want to go on an awesome camping trip with their best friend??

fun and adventure

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Many pet parents modify their RV to better accommodate furry friends. These modifications work to make an RVing trip safer, more comfortable, and less stressful for dogs (and cats!), allowing them to live their best life while exploring the beautiful outdoors.

Custom RV modifications benefit both pet and owner, making each RV camping trip an easy, joyful experience.

Benefits of traveling with pets

While there are a number of reasons why a person might want to bring a dog camping with them, many dog owners do it for one of these four reasons:

  • Fun and adventure
  • Emotional support
  • Campsite/RV security
  • Don’t want to leave dog at home

Fun and adventure

Dogs are some of the best RV adventure buddies in the world. Brimming with enthusiasm and curiosity, a dog is likely to do twice as much exploring as their human counterparts on any hike or walk.

Even just rolling up to the campsite is exciting for dogs. Once the camper is parked, most dogs spend a good hour or more running around, sniffing new smells, and getting a lay of the land. There’s never a dull moment with a pooch around.

By the time camp is set up and most people are ready to kick back and crack a beer, dogs have compiled a full list of places they want to explore: The river has to be jumped in, at least two hiking trails near camp have rabbits on them, and half a dozen trees must be peed on. Someone’s gotta do it, amirite?

fun and adventure

Sure, not all dogs are this adventure prone, but many are, especially the types of dogs who RVers bring camping. Dogs are a reason to get off your butt and go for a walk. They get us out of our comfort zone and show us what it means to truly play and be happy.

Emotional support

Animals have been used as emotional support for centuries, perhaps even millennia. They provide unconditional love and an unbiased sounding board to vent our problems to. Our happiness is their happiness, and their happiness is our happiness, a beautiful two-way street.

Life doesn’t stop when we travel, and sometimes trips bring out big emotions. Dogs can help to soothe big feelings. Their joy puts life in perspective, making sure we don’t stress over the small things.

Solo travelers, retirees, and couples without kids tend to prefer RVing with a dog for emotional support reasons. Even folks with little need for emotional and mental support can maintain their mental health by bringing their dog camping with them.

Campsite/RV security

Home security is a time honored dog-job. Having a watchful and alert dog hanging around camp is a way to make sure unwanted wildlife and unfamiliar humans do not come calling unannounced.

Not all RVers feel the need for extra security around camp and have no trouble finding peace of mind out in nature. Other folks have a hard time feeling safe at camp. This could be from a previous traumatic experience, an overall unfamiliarity with natural spaces, or simply that they have many valuables they are concerned about.

Whatever the case may be, an attentive dog can provide the watchful eye needed to allow their human to sit back and relax.

If you plan on bringing a furry friend camping with you to protect your camp and your crew, there are a couple important things to keep in mind.

Dogs cannot be allowed to roam freely in campgrounds and RV parks. This is especially important if a dog displays dangerous behavior, is aggressive toward people, or has unpredictable reactions. Keep dogs on a leash outside, making sure that the leash is the appropriate length to keep the dog within the boundary of your campsite.

Don’t want to leave dog at home

Most people bring their dog RV camping with them because they consider their dog family. You wouldn’t leave a family member behind on a fun road trip, would you? Camping just isn’t the same without the whole crew, and in most cases, the dog is the most fun member of any crew.


Aside from simply enjoying the presence of their dog and wanting to hang out with them, some people don’t have a choice in the matter. Organizing dog sitters can be a hassle, kennels are expensive (and sad), and when left home alone, some dogs go nuts and destroy everything.

No one likes being left behind, especially dogs. If you have the capacity and resources to bring your dog with you on RV trips, you should absolutely choose to do so.

RV modifications for dogs

In another lifetime I worked as an RV technician for several camper van customization shops in Boulder, Colorado. During this time, I saw my fair share of RV modifications designed specifically to benefit the RV owner’s dog.

These modifications varied from RV to RV. Some people needed special adaptations that increased RV accessibility for a senior or disabled dog. Others needed a way to safely secure their dog for long travel days on the road. In some cases, people just needed storage solutions that would protect their gear and food from a chew-happy dog.

In all cases, these RVers loved their dog and just wanted them to be happy and comfortable.


Here are the 5 best RV modifications that I have seen for dogs.


As dogs age, their ability to climb and jump into vehicles slowly declines. This can be due to arthritis, weak joints, or lack of strength. A ramp going from the ground into the RV provides an easy path for an old dog to climb into a camper. This allows the dog the freedom to enter and exit the RV at their leisure, without needing to wait for a helping hand from a human.

Small dogs and dogs with disabilities also benefit from RV ramps.

Multiple companies manufacture dog ramps for cars and RVs. They are sold in many lengths, strengths, and sizes, meaning the perfect ramp exists for every RV.

Custom RV dog ramps can be easily constructed by anyone with basic DIY skills. The only materials needed are ¾” plywood and some adhesive-backed grip tape. ¾” plywood should provide a strong enough ramp for all but the largest of dogs, and grip tape provides paw-traction during rain and snowstorms.

Dog kennel

Personally, I’m not a big fan of kennels, but I do recognize that there is a time and a place for them. A dog crate can provide a safe space for a dog to sleep and hang out in while an RV is in motion, or while their owner is temporarily away. Life on the road can be stressful, and some crate trained dogs enjoy having this kind of refuge to escape to.

Dog crates are only appropriate for animals who have been properly and thoroughly crate trained. Forcing an animal who is not crate trained to spend time in a dog kennel is cruel and unreasonable, please do not do it.

Dog crates designed for travel and RVs are readily available on the consumer market. Some have collapsible features and are well suited for a variety of adventures, while others are designed to be permanently installed in a rig.

Dog kennel

Most dogs prefer not to spend time in a dog crate if possible. If you plan on installing a dog kennel in your rig, please carefully consider if it is a safe and healthy decision for your canine pal.

Storage space

Dog specific storage space is an excellent way to keep your dog’s food, toys, and gear organized and easily accessible. It’s easy to forget how much pet specific gear is necessary on a camping trip until that gear is strewn about the camper.

By installing or designating cabinetry for your dog, you create a one stop shop for all of your dog’s needs. This helps to increase a dog’s safety, as you know exactly where to find their medicine and first aid supplies should an emergency occur.

More than toys and gear, most RVers focus on creating special storage space for dog food. It’s no secret that dogs love food and will eat more than they should if given the opportunity. Keeping pet food behind a cabinet door prevents nighttime feasting that could lead to health complications.

Screen door

RVs tend to get stuffy quickly, leading avid RVers to prefer keeping their camper door open through most of the evening. This allows fresh air to flow through the camper, cooling it without the need for air conditioning.

But, if you have a dog that is prone to running away, leaving the camper door open isn’t really an option unless you have a screen door. A screen door on an RV works to keep your dog inside the rig, while simultaneously keeping mosquitos and other critters out.

RVers with big dogs will need to invest in a sturdy screen door that cannot be easily knocked down or ripped open. Boondockers who let their dogs roam freely can get away with a magnetic screen door that allows pets to come and go as they please, while still keeping mosquitos at bay.

Built-in dog bed

No pet friendly RV is complete without a built-in pet sleeping area.

Dogs love having their own permanent space to hang out and sleep in. Building a personal sleep zone for your dog is the best way to reduce stress and promote relaxation for your four-legged friend.

The best way that I have seen this done is by converting a section of the storage area under the RV’s bed into a cozy sleeping area. Once converted, this sleeping area can be equipped with a pet bed, food and water bowls, and a basket of toys.

I have also seen RVers that travel with cats make similar compartments in their rigs. These compartments are usually a tad smaller and cozier than dog sleeping areas. This is also a great place to tuck food and water bowls, some toys, extra cat blankets, and a litter box.


Pet friendly RVs

The size of a camper plays a big role into how comfortable you and your pet will be while camping together. If you are hoping to purchase an RV with the intention of going on some epic adventures with your dog or cat, you need to make sure it’s a good fit.

Here are Ecocampor’s best RVs for adventuring and traveling with your pet.

RVs for big and medium sized dogs

The larger the dog, the more space it will need for sleeping, stretching, and hanging out. These RVs fit the bill for large adventure campers:

  • Long Bed Off-Road Truck Camper
  • Lightweight Slide-In Truck Camper
  • 19ft Off-Road Caravan
  • 22ft Off-Road Caravan

RVs for small dogs and cats

Small dogs and cats don’t need a whole lot of room. They’re usually content curling up wherever there is a soft spot to cuddle into. These compact RVs have enough room for one or two people and their fun-sized companions:

  • Teardrop Trailer
  • Expedition Trailer
  • Luxury Fiberglass Truck Camper
  • Hardside Fiberglass Truck Camper
  • Adventure Truck Camper
  • 12ft Off-Road Caravan

Preparing for RV trips with a pet

RV trips with pets can be quite a bit different than RV trips without them, and one must prepare accordingly. The following tips and tricks can be used to prepare your RV and your animal for a great adventure.

Preparing the RV

Make sure all of the following items are loaded into the rig before you hit the road. If you do not have a designated pet cabinet in your RV, I suggest buying a large plastic storage tote to keep all pet related items in. A tote like this is especially useful for holding pet food, as it serves to keep both your animal and other critters out of the food while you’re away.

  • Food and water
  • Food bowl
  • Water bowl
  • Leash and collar/harness
  • Doggy bags or litter box
  • Toys
  • Pet bed
  • Warm pet clothing for cold weather (optional)
  • Pet medications/first aid kit
  • Treats

Essentially everything you regularly use for your pet at home should also come camping with you. Medications and a pet first aid kit are especially important to bring along, as you never know when an accident may happen.

Also, please clean up after your dog uses the bathroom outside. It’s rude, inconsiderate, and damaging to the environment to not clean up pet waste.

Remember to leave no trace.


Preparing your animal

The best way to prepare your dog for an upcoming camping trip is to take them to the campground at least once ahead of time and let them become familiar with the area. This will help to ease anxiety and tension that can arise when a dog is in an unfamiliar place.

If your dog experiences travel anxiety and does not enjoy being on the road, try tiring them out with a nice long play before you leave. With any luck, your tired pooch will simply sleep through the majority of the drive, bypassing anxiety and stress.

Make sure your dog has mastered commands such as “stay”, “wait”, “come”, and “leave it”. While camping in a campground, it’s important to have a well-behaved dog who listens to and obeys commands. A poorly behaved dog can lead to trouble with campground management and upset RV neighbors.

Frequently asked questions

Our pet parent readers have some questions about RV adventures with dogs and cats.

Should I install an outdoor shower for my dog?

While not necessary, many RVers love having an outdoor shower they can use to rinse off their dog. This helps keep any stinky, dirty, or gross things that your dog finds out of the RV. River water and biodegradable soap work too though.

Do dogs sleep well in RVs?

Most people who take their dog RV camping have no issue with their dog sleeping through the night. Some animals can become bothered by nocturnal wildlife outside of the rig, but after a few days most dogs can ignore outside noise.

Can I take my cat camping?

Sure thing! You can do whatever you want. Just know that cats are known to make a run for it if given the opportunity. A long leash is probably the best way to let your cat explore and enjoy the outdoors.


Well, there you have it!

I hope at this point you are feeling confident, prepared, and excited to take your dog on your next big RV adventure. I am certain that any dog who has never been camping will immediately love it. Before long, you and your furry friend will have enough amazing camp memories to last a lifetime.

Just remember to live like a Boy Scout and always be prepared! Bring more food, toys, and treats for your dog than you think you will need.

Better to have too much than not enough, right?

Happy camping!

About Author
About Author

Schuyler has been working and playing outdoors his entire adult life. As a ski-bum in his early 20’s, he began building campers in the beds of pickup trucks to pursue a life of freedom and adventure. After a decade of experience as an artist and carpenter in Washington State, he moved to Colorado to work as an RV technician, converting vans into luxury campers. Now he is traveling the world, using writing as a way to continue his passion for creativity and artistry.

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