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Caravanning with dogs: all you need to know


Caravan holidays with dogs are a joy for lots of reasons

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Words by Val Champman


An introduction to caravanning with dogs

Firstly, many people choose to buy a caravan specifically because they have a dog – or more than one dog – and want to take the dog on holiday. After all, we all get pets because we want to spend time with them – and what better time than holiday time, whether that be your main holidays or weekend breaks?

Secondly, if you already have a caravan and are thinking of taking your dog with you on holiday, maybe for the first time, you can be sure that having your dog with you will enrich your holiday – making it more fun. So, any which way you approach the idea of caravanning holidays with dogs, it’s a win-win.

Caravanning with a dog – or more than one dog – is just so easy. An awning helps, of course – especially in providing somewhere to towel your dog’s fur after a rain-soaked walk, and to wipe muddy paws.

The presence of a dog in the family may influence the layout of caravan you choose. Enough floor space is key. And that strongly depends on the size of the dog.

Again, awnings are an advantage and, the smaller your caravan, the more you will appreciate the extra space an awning provides for your dog to eat, possibly even sleep (in a dog crate so that he can’t get out of the awning).

From a dog’s perspective, they love being with people – and in a caravan they’re closer to the family than in a house. And they love going for walks, of course. It's easy to build walking into your holiday route.

Planning your travel

A dog inside of a caravan

(photo courtesy of Penny Reynolds)

The first thing to consider when planning caravanning travel with a dog is keeping the dog happy in the car – and safe. In terms of happy, we mean keeping the car well ventilated so that the dog doesn’t feel too hot, and giving him his own bed so that he is comfortable.

Safety is a much greater consideration, though; that’s about making sure that the dog is confined to one area of the car, either the back seat, or the luggage area in an estate car or hatchback. Being confined to one area will prevent the dog from entering the driver’s space (essential!). It also means that, in the event of heavy braking or a collision, the dog can’t be thrown forward into the front seat area, or into the back seat if he is in the luggage area.

Dog seatbelts are available; these attach to the car’s seatbelt system. There are also dog crates on the market; most fold when not in use. These originated for transporting show dogs and are now in common use by pet owners.

For caravan owners, dog crates have a double use, for they can be used to confine your dog within an awning, to make sure he can’t get out without his lead and run around the campsite.

What to bring with you on a journey

Water is the essential, plus, of course, a bowl. Depending on the length of the journey, you may wish to pack some dried dog food.

Kitchen paper is a good idea, to wipe muddy paws after you have stopped to give your dog a chance to 'go to the loo'.

Travelling with dogs

A black dog in a field

(photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Travelling with dogs is easy, bearing in mind the advice above. Some dogs, though, bark in a car. This can be the subject for some stern training, helped, of course, by using dog treats to reinforce the words ‘good boy’ when he stops barking.

The most essential thing to bear in mind when travelling with dogs is that they must never be left alone in a warm car. We say ‘warm’ rather than ‘hot’ because even slight warmth, on a sunny day, can be harmful.

Dog accessories to bring when travelling

Toys! Whatever his favourite toy, it will help his happiness in the car. A bed is a good idea, whether inside a crate, or on the back seat if the dog is anchored by a lead to the safety harness.

Water, as we mentioned earlier, plus dried food (if your travel includes a time that he would normally eat a meal) – and ‘bribery’ in the form of dog treats.

Finding a dog-friendly caravan park

The vast majority of caravan parks accept dogs. Those that don’t are usually those that have their own beaches. Check when booking anyway.

Many dog-friendly caravan parks have dog walking areas; some have small fields that are fenced, where you are permitted to let your pet run free of his lead.

Almost all campsites that allow dogs have a rule that says ‘dog on leads at all times’. That means not just when out for a walk, but when the dog is outside around your caravan. You can buy spiral dog securing points that go into the ground and have a loop at the top to which you can secure a lead or longer tether.

Windbreaks can be useful to show your dog where the pitch boundaries are – and some windbreak systems can be bought complete with ‘gates’. Our advice, though, is not to rely on a windbreak to confine your dog – they can easily ‘break out’. That goes for awnings, too. And, as the vast majority of sites do not allow dogs to run loose, you need to make sure your dog doesn’t escape.

Some sites have dog showers – these are fantastic for getting your dog clean after a muddy walk.

Our own Campsite Finder lists dog-friendly sites in many parts of Britain.

Wherever you choose, it’s worth remembering that late night and early morning barking – and lots of barking at any time – is not considered good campsite etiquette! It’s also worth remembering that, while many people absolutely love dogs (not only their own), there are some people who really don’t like dogs!

Dog accessories for caravanning

  • A towel ‘bag’. These are like very close-fitting dog coats; you put the dog inside the towel bag and rub his fur dry.
  • Collapsible bowls. These save space in caravan lockers and are also great for taking out on day trips.
  • A ground-screw dog tether – position it where the dog has access to shade.
  • If you allow your dog to go on the seating in your caravan, invest in some covers to protect your caravan’s upholstery.
  • A folding kennel, for your awning, to confine your dog; these are made of fabric and have mesh areas. They're a great alternative if you don’t use a dog create.

Travelling in Europe

A dog on a beach

(photo courtesy of Pixabay)

You will need to obtain an animal health certificate (AHC) from your pet's vet for each individual trip you wish to take your dog to a country in Europe, including Northern Ireland. And, of course, you will need to check when you book a site abroad that dogs are allowed at that site.

Many dog owners choose to cross the Channel via the Channel Tunnel, to avoid the potential hassles of travelling on a ferry with them.

In order to obtain an Animal Health Certificate (AHC), you will need to make sure the dog is microchipped and has had a rabies vaccination. Some countries (notably Malta, Norway, Finland, Northern Ireland and Ireland, also insist that the dog has had tapeworm treatment.

You need to obtain an animal heath certificate in the 10 days before you enter the EU from Britain. Animal health certificates are obtained through your vet. Rules for countries outside the EU differ; check the requirements for each country you may be visiting well before your departure date from Britain.

Things to consider in relation to travel safety with your dog

Whatever the distance of the journey, you will need to consider the frequency of stops that you will need to make to keep your dog happy.

That’s not just about ‘toilet’ stops, it’s about making sure the dog doesn’t get bored – because bored dogs can get restless and may bark – and that can distract the driver.


How do I keep my dog cool in my caravan?

You can have an air-conditioning unit fitted. If you don’t want to do that, you can keep the caravan ventilated by opening the rooflights and windows on the first latch, so creating airflow. Do not leave windows open unless you are in the caravan because your dog may escape.

And don’t be tempted to leave the top half of your caravan door (assuming you have a stable door) open for ventilation – a large dog can jump out of it. In hot weather, even though you may open the windows and roof vents, standard advice is not to leave dogs alone in a caravan, because it may become too hot for them.

Can you travel with dogs in caravan?

Definitely not. Dogs must be in your towcar.

What are the rules for travelling with dogs?

The Highway Code states that dogs must be restrained so that they cannot distract the driver or injure you or themselves if you stop quickly.

How much does an animal health certificate cost?

Prices vary hugely. From £99 for one dog to £250 and more. Our research shows an average cost of around £150.

Final thoughts

Enjoy holidaying with your canine companion! Caravan holidays with dogs, whether you are a family with children, a couple, or on your own, can be great fun.

Plan ahead, choose the right campsites for your dog, make sure he’s comfortable and happy while you tow the caravan, and invest in a dog crate for use in your car and in your awning. And don’t forget to pack enough of his favourite food, just in case it’s not available near to where you are staying.

Expert Caravan advice to your door!

Caravan Magazine

Caravan magazine has been inspiring caravanners for more than 80 years! We have grown to become a leading authority on caravans, the caravan industry, caravan lifestyle, campsites and caravan travel destinations. We know what our readers want – and that's to make the most of their caravans and their holidays!

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03/05/2024 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

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