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Vanlife has its own challenges. When you live in your van with a dog it can be even more challenging. Worrying about leaving your dog in the car when you go grocery shopping, how to keep them from chewing everything up, and overall making sure they are happy are main concerns when your pet lives with you in the van. Below are some of my favorite items that I believe help make vanlife with a dog much easier.
Vanlife Chew Toys: Antlers
The saving grace at the end of every night for Shawn and I are a chew toy for our puppy Jax. His favorite item that he can’t actually destroy is deer antlers. These can become fairly pricey when you buy them from a pet store so we opted to buy a pack for around $25. They contain 6 and are usually 3-5inches long. We have had our pack of 6 for 6 months now and still have 3 left. They are great for keeping him entertained when we are relaxing at night and Jax still has energy left to spare.
The best toy your puppy can’t chew up: West Paw Dog Bone
If you have had a rowdy puppy before then you know that all the toys claiming to be “tough” and “last longer” are usually full of it. Most toys we have gotten our puppy have lasted us at most a few days. Jax takes one look and becomes OCD about finding the squeaker or getting to the center of a ball. The only toy we have found that will actually last when he wants to chew on it is a West Paw Hurley. It’s not the most flashy toy and frankly, it looks a little obscene to me BUT it’s lasted us months now. It’s another great option for a toy we don’t want to have to monitor our dog playing with.
How to wear out your dog: West Paw Frisbee
My partner Shawn loves to play frisbee. I think a requirement on being Shawn’s dog is to be able to play frisbee and it is lucky for Jax that he loves it as equally. After finding how durable the West Paw Hurley was we found just how great the West Paw Zisk was as well. The Zisc is flexible, flies far, easy to toss and can withstand a little chewing.
The best option for puppies that eat too fast: Outward Hound Dog food Bowl
Most puppies eat too fast. They gobble up their food in an instant and then have the huge adorable puppy belly to show for it. The bad news is, in a van, that is a recipe for trouble. The last thing you want is a dog with an upset belly when you have an hour or two drive ahead of you. The only thing that worked for us is a kibble diverter. It’s a great way to entertain your pup’s mind and keep them from eating too fast. Eventually, Jax got bored of it and we transited him to a regular bowl.
The best leash for training your new vanlife puppy: The Not a Leash
We have gone through many dog leashes. In fact, we tend to make our own and those are typically our favorite ones. However, a great option, if you don’t want to DIY a lead rope, is the Ruffwear Knot-a-leash and for older pups a simply harness and leash work great.
How to keep your vanlife dogs safe: Webcam
Although ideally you never have to leave your dogs alone in the van, it does happen. A great option for keeping an eye on your pups when you need to run into the grocery store or make a quick stop somewhere are webcams. I suggest the Tenvis security cam it’s relatively cheap and can be used by android and IOS users. They do need wifi so you would need to have a hotspot connected to the camera when you are away.
How to take old or small dogs hiking: Timbuk2 Mutt Mover
Do you have an older dog who can’t go as far on hikes or maybe you have a small dog that loves to be outside but can’t make it on the more skilled trails? We have an older dachshund and as much as he wants to go on the long rocky hikes, he simply shouldn’t be putting that much pressure on his back. We found out about this bag from Erin Ortiz and she was spot on!
So for those long hikes, we bring along our Timbuktu Mutt Mover. It is longer so our dachshund is able to fit sideways in the bag and not put pressure on his vertebrae like many other bags we have seen. Although it could be made a bit more comfortable for the human, our dog loves it (or at least tolerates it) and we are able to hike guilt-free!
A vanlife dog sitter: Rover
Ok so technically Rover isn’t an actual item but it is a great tool to have in your arsenal. When you live with your dog in a van there are going to be times when you need to be away for a few hours. Maybe there is a National Park hike that you are dying to take or you are heading to a festival that doesn’t allow dogs. The reasons go on why you might need a few hours or days where your pup can’t be with you. In that case, I recommend Rover. Rover is a dog-sitting and walking platform that allows you to find locals who you can handpick to watch your pup! We have used Rover often when we lived in Seattle and would totally do so again if needed!
Although living in a van with a dog can be challenging I hope that these items help your transition. Want to hear more about living in a van with your dog? Check out my post on Tips for Vanlife with Dogs!