How Do I Set Up a Dog’s Space in an RV?

No matter the size of your dog or the size of your RV, you will need to set aside a special area that your dog will have as ‘their space’.  This is the spot that you will keep your dog’s bedding and any special toys.  The right spot for your dog will depend on how you’ve trained it and how much room you have in your RV.

3 Ways To Set Up Your Dog’s Space Inside Your RV

Put a Doggie Seat Cover on the RV couch

Beagle Dog Parents, Hong and Seth, travel regularly with their dog Banyan.  They found a seat cover for their couch and added a cooling pad as well.  This helps their dog control its temperature better especially when the RV is parked and doesn’t have AC running. At night Banyan “shares” the back bedroom with his parents.  This set up works best if you have enough space in your RV, a smaller dog, and everyone is happy with co-sleeping.

Add Furniture to Your RV

Depending on the layout of your RV, you can look into buying furniture – most often end tables that double as pet kennels – and add this to your RV main living area. Some people remove one or both of the lazy boy chairs to make room for a portable kennel.  Another common option is to change out the dining table or side table for a kennel that doubles as an eating surface. You can even take a basic wire crate and fit a slab of wood on top to make a portable table/kennel piece.

Add Built-In Kennels or Sleep Areas for Your Dog to Your RV

Some RV owners prefer to permanently modify their RVs to fit a in a dog area. There are several common areas that RVers transform to fit kennels or pet sleeping areas.

Add Dog Crates to your RV Dinette Area: You can remove the table and fit 2-4 large crates in this area.  Make sure you bolt the kennels securely to the framework for safety when traveling. A custom-built table piece will slide over the top of kennels, so you don’t lose valuable eating space.

Use Your RV Bunks as Dog Beds: If you don’t need your bottom bunks for sleeping, you can set up the dog beds here.  You may need to add a ramp to access the bunks if your dog isn’t agile. It is not recommended to use the top bunk for dogs, however as they can get hurt jumping down. Consider removing the bottom bunk entirely to make a multi-use pet space with kennel, bed, and feeding area.

Add Pet-Friendly Space Under Your RV’s Main Bed: Many RVs have storage underneath the main bed. If you are handy with tools, you can fairly easily add a space to either put a pre-made crate or to add a gated door to the cabinet. Alternately, a sliding platform under the bed is the perfect space for a dog bed, which can be pulled out at night and stowed away during the daytime.

Setting Up an RV Outdoor Space For Your Dog

Once you arrive at your campsite – whether its at an RV resort, a National Park, or boondocking, everyone will want to get out and stretch their legs! Setting up a safe and secure outside space for your dog is essential for his enjoyment and relaxation.

Should you use a stake and tether or zipline for your dog at the campground?

Most, if not all, campgrounds require animals to be leashed when outside of the camper.  The problem with a traditional leash and stake approach is that your dog will constantly become entangled and can even hurt themselves. Its frustrating for your dog as well as for you because you will be forever untangling your dog from the picnic table, trees, bushes, other dogs, and more. A dog zip line is also safer for you because you won’t trip in the dark!

If you want to give your dog more space to walk around, while keeping within the campgrounds 6 foot leash rule – you can easily make a doggy zip line! A dog zip line is inexpensive to make and can be adjusted to fit whatever space you are camping in and how ever many dogs you want to attach.

How to DIY Make a Zip Line for Your Dog

Materials Needed to Make Dog Zip Line:

  • 20 feet thin nylon rope or paracord
  • 2 spring metal clasps

Instructions for Making the Dog Zip Line:

  1. Tie a metal clasp to each end of the paracord.  You can add superglue to the knot to ensure it doesn’t come undone.  If you are using nylon rope, burn the ends so that the rope doesn’t fray and unravel.
  2. Secure the zipline to a large tree by wrapping the rope around the trunk of the tree and using the metal clasp to clip onto the rope.
  3. Pull the rope taunt and wrap it around another tree creating a line in between the 2 trees.  If you have too much rope, wrap the excess rope around the 2nd tree trunk a few times until you can get a tight line.

How to attach your dog to a zipline:

To attach your dog to the zipline, use a harness, leash and carabiner.  A harness is much safer than a collar because it will prevent choking if your dog somehow becomes tangled up.  Harnesses are much harder to slip out of as well – so this will prevent accidental escapes.

Clip the leash to the back of the harness and then use the carabiner to clip the leash handle and onto the zipline.  Now your dog can roam in the area covered by the zipline without fear of getting tangled or stuck!

Using a portable pet fence to keep your dog safe outside your RV

Folding, portable fences are a great option for dogs who are well trained or small. They allow you to create a small yard and are perfect for when you need to let your dog out for a quick bathroom break. Measure the perimeter of your RV patio area to get an idea of how many fence sections you will need to purchase.  Generally, at most campgrounds, you can count on having at least 10 feet off the door side of your camper as your patio area. Adding a thick camping mat like the one here provides a cushiony floor for your dog’s paws as well as a barrier to mud, dirt, and sand.

Make sure you stake the fence into the ground using sturdy steel stakes and never leave your dog unattended at the campsite.

Where to put your dog’s food and water station outside your RV

Always keep a water bowl with fresh water in a shady spot on your RV patio where your dog can easily access a drink.  Try to keep the water cool and replace it every day or more often as needed as your dog may be more thirsty in the hot summer weather. Don’t leave food out for your dog because you may attract wild animals or rodents.

The dog paw cleaning station – essential for keeping dirt out of your RV

Keep the interior of your RV cleaner by establishing a routine of wiping down your dog’s paws and coat with doggy wet wipes before they enter the RV.  If your dog is extra dirty from swimming or hiking, you will want to have a doggy shower station outside your RV.  Use a plastic mat that allows water to seep through like this on the ground.  Attach the outdoor shower hose to your fresh water supply and give your dog a quick rinse (or for more dirty situations – use dog shampoo).  Use a quick-dry towel to wipe your dog down before bringing him inside.

Mountain Mat USA

Jennifer Hillberg is the Founder and Creator of Mountain Mat, LLC, the USA’s first 100% recycled plastic, reversible, outdoor recreation mat. As an avid outdoor recreationalist, Jennifer has hiked and camped in some of the world’s most remote places alongside her husband and three children. Learn more about The Mountain Mat Story.