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Van life with a dog

Van life with a dog

Posted by Heatso on 30th Jan 2022

Key installations, tips and advice when it comes to van life with a dog. Your all-in-one guide when it comes to acquiring a pet.

Van life with a dog: what you need to know

Most likely, you are a van lifer planning to get a furry companion, or a dog owner planning to move into a van. Either way, there’s a lot of things you need to consider before making this life changing decision. In this blog, we will try to answer all the questions you may have and provide some guidance and advice.

Living in a van with pets

It’s really common amongst van dwellers to have a pet. However, you have to seriously think it through if you are ready and definitely want to have a pet in your van. They simply come with a lot of responsibilities and a strict routine.

Different animals alter your lifestyle differently. Dogs, for example, are extremely attached and make wonderful companions. Whereas cats are usually fine being left alone for a period of time as they tend to keep their needs to themselves.

Can a dog live in a van

Dogs are attached to their owners, not to their surroundings. It will treat the van as their home and comfort zone. The van however, needs to be as suitable for your dog as it is for you. Your furry friend will require his own space to sleep and eat. Ideally, it should all be planned out before you start converting the van.

Many van lifers do not mind sharing their sleeping space with their dogs. However, if you like to have your own space, then you should make a separate area for your dog. This usually means sacrificing one of your storage spaces.

Keeping a dog in a van

Before you allow your dog to live in a van make sure to consider the necessary modifications. If you want your dog to live happily, be ready to meet their needs.

Key installations

A vent fan or two

Proper ventilation for your dog to always have access to fresh air is an absolute must. One of our favourites - the MaxxAir fan comes with a thermostat and a remote control. It is a major benefit to always be able to monitor the temperature inside the van.

Dog camera

A dog camera inside the van is also recommended for extra safety and stress-free living. You will be able to keep an eye on your dog and see if everything is okay.

Air Conditioning Unit

Getting an air conditioner is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet stay comfortable in the heat. The HEATSO Cool 12V A/C unit is reliable and efficient, and will keep a steady temperature indoors for long periods of time.

Although it’s essential to keep the cabin cool in the summer, it’s important that the temperature difference indoors and outdoors isn’t too big. Dogs are sensitive to extreme temperature changes, so being able to adjust the temperature remotely makes the Cool 12V very convenient.

Air conditioning sticker

Letting passers-by know that your dog is safe and sound inside the van while you’re away is essential. To do so, it’s enough to just put a sticker on both sides of your van specifying that your dog is safe and has access to fresh air.

Dog bowls

Make sure to buy two bowls for food and water. On a hot day, your dog always needs to have access to water when they’re left alone. With all of these things, you will easily be able to leave your dog in the van and monitor their well being.

Living in a van with a dog

Speaking of whether your dog will be fulfilled with this lifestyle. Your dog will be way happier with life on the road than waiting for you inside a house until you get home from your full-time job.

There are a lot of benefits of bringing a dog to live with you. One of them, is that you’ll always have a reason to go outside. Whether you are working, gaming, or watching your favourite TV series, there will always be someone reminding you that it’s time to go for a walk.

A dog loves an adventurous life. You will start visiting dog friendly patios, dog parks, national parks and areas around them, and more. In other words, your lifestyle will become much more active and fulfilling.

If you already have a dog and want to start van living

Consider going on a short road trip once a week in the beginning. Your dog might be weird out at the start, especially if they’re not used to travelling in a vehicle. Occasionally driving with the dog in a car will help.

Do your best to make it fun and entertaining for the dog: bring bags of their favourite treats and reward them for responding to your calls and behaving well. With a couple of practice days, your pup will start to develop positive associations with van travel and will quickly get used to it.

If you are a van lifer and want to get a puppy

At the beginning, try to spend as much time outside with your pup as possible. Only allow them inside at night and under supervision.

Young pups don’t have full control of their bladder until 6-7 months old, which means they tend to pee in the most unwanted areas. It doesn’t matter whether they live in a van, an RV or a house - it’s simply in their nature. It can happen at any time, even when they’re too excited or scared of a thunderstorm. It will be your task to successfully prevent them from leaving stains and unwanted odours around the van.

First and foremost, you need to get a cage, to prevent accidents from happening at night. Don’t worry, it is absolutely normal to have a dog cage. The four legged friends love being in a narrow environment where nobody can reach them, it makes them feel safe and comfortable. At first, your puppy might be scared of it, but you can teach them to love it with treats and positive reinforcement.

The key point is that you have to prove to your dog that you aren’t limiting their space. In order to do that, keep the cage open at all times during the day, so your dog can have a safe place to come back and rest. Lock it up during the night when they fall asleep, also place a water bowl inside so they always have access to it.

One of the best places for a dog cage is under the bed. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a cage, it can be just a closed area with a small gate.


Dogs make the best travel companions, especially when it comes to van life. You will always have someone at your side, always full of life and joy, willing to go for another hike and explore new places.

However, you have to take care of them, almost as if they’re your child. Dogs learn really fast so it’s mostly the first stage of their life that will be difficult to handle. You can expect your dog to become smarter over time, and this will lead to fewer problems and more joy in your life.