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Van Life with dogs is a completely different experience than without. Dogs get you outdoors, keep you moving and they make every day a new adventure! Even in the city, we find ourselves exploring just so the dogs are able to have their fun for the day. Van life with Dogs also has its downsides. You can’t always go wherever you want and it’s imperative that you keep them as your number one consideration anywhere you go. Either way, there is no feeling like snuggling with your pup BFF and enjoying the view from your van at the end of the day. So if you have a pup or are thinking about getting a dog to join you on the road then check out these top tips for dogs in van life!
How to find dog-friendly local places
The most important thing you can do to make van life with your dog easier is to bring the pups with you whenever you can! You live in a small space and they deserve to be out with you! Most places that have a patio will allow dogs. Restaurants, coffee shops, and breweries are great places to bring your dog so you can both get some time outside of the van. Usually, I check BringFido (a website dedicated to helping you find dog-friendly activities) or simply give the local business a call!
Having dogs in van life means that you need to think of them wherever you head to or go next. From city life to secluded areas, you need to do your research ahead of time to accommodate your dogs. If you want to check out a restaurant in town or head to the coffee shop then it’s important that you find places that will let you bring your pups with you especially when it’s hot out. For restaurants, activities, and hotels we always use Bring Fido. It’s a great resource for your all-around dog-friendly activities near you. The downside to Bring Fido is there often isn’t enough information on the location and you might find yourself at a coffee shop that only allows dogs on the patio.
To compliment Bring Fido we always check yelp for local city places and often we will simply take the extra step and call the establishment. That way there is no confusion and you don’t waste time.
How to keep dogs from acting out in a van
If I could only give you one tip for van life with dogs, it would be to make sure they have their exercise. A tired pup doesn’t chew things up, whine, or act out. A tired pup is a happy pup. We try to take our two dogs on a walk every single morning. This way they are starting their day with a long walk outside the van and are usually happy to take a mid-morning nap while we get some computer work done.
Tip for Van life with a puppy
Van life with a puppy is an entirely different world than with a mature dog. Puppies require frequent potty time which means longer trips are harder to do, they require more playtime, and you have to watch them AT ALL TIMES. Even leaving them in the van for a few minutes can turn into something getting chewed up or they may have had an accident.
A few things you can do to make the process smoother for your van life puppy is to make sure they have dog toys to keep them entertained. Some of our favorite things are antler bones, kong toys, and plenty of treats.
How to find dog-friendly hikes
I personally use all trails to find dog-friendly hikes near me, which allows you to filter the hikes that allow dogs on the trail. Bringing your pup on hikes with you is one of the great joys of owning a pet in a van. You get to spend so much time with them that you probably wouldn’t get to spend if you lived in a house or apartment. You can use AllTrails by hitting the “filter” and searching for dog-friendly hikes in the area. It’s super easy to use and I highly recommend. Don’t forget to add your reviews as this is what keeps the app going!
Dog-friendly Apps to use
Use Apps to find dog-friendly places and activities. Bring Fido, All Trails, and Yelp help you find the places that are dog-friendly. Be warned that sometimes if a place is “dog-friendly” it may only mean outside on their patio. If you are unsure, it’s best to call ahead.
National Parks with Dogs
When you are a van lifer or on the road full-time then chances are you want to check some National Parks off your list. This is a completely reasonable thing to want to do, unfortunately, if you have a dog going to National parks can be a little difficult. Most National Parks are not super dog-friendly and can keep you off the really awesome trails. However, the good thing is that most National Parks allow you to bring your dog in through your vehicle and they can be anywhere your car can be. This means paved roads and parking lots plus some campgrounds.
National Parks with dogs resources:
How to Find Local Off-Leash Dog-Parks
Some of our favorite experiences with the dogs have been at local off-leash dog parks. There are some beautiful hundred-acre off-leash dog parks in several parts of the united states. You can find several great ones by checking out my Van life guides! To find your own, simply use Google and check out the reviews to get an idea of what kind of dog-parks there are in the area. You will find small simple fenced in dog-parks to spacious parks and beaches where your dog will feel completely free.
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