Travel in a Teardrop

Retro Camping Across America

Camping in a Teardrop With Your Dog

So we decided to take the dog with us in our Teardrop Trailer…


Camping with a dog, or any pet, in a Teardrop Trailer adds a whole new level of complexity to your trip. While Matthew has a lot of camping experience, and Megan has some, neither of us has ever gone camping with a dog. So in the true spirit of “f*%# yes!” (our motto), we decided to take Rufus, aka “the Mutthead” with us on our first weekend camping adventure in our Teardrops NW Trek

Rufus, aka “Mutthead”

We planned accordingly. Megan purchased a food and water dish to keep with the trailer as part of the kit. We went to Ikea and got a durable, neutral-colored polyester (i.e. washable) bedspread to cover everything in an attempt to contain his dog hair, as well as keep his talons from shredding our regular bedding. We took his dog “vest” to keep him warm and dry and packed extra towels to dry off wet paws. 

We were excited to have Rufus experience the Oregon coast for the first time, as he’d never been to the beach. Having had our shakedown overnight trip sans canine, with the bed in the trailer being the same size that Rufus is allowed to sleep on at home, we figured there’d be plenty of room for we three, and while possibly a bit smelly from dog, we’d all be comfortable and warm.

Camping with a dog is very different than anything else


We were fortunate in that, as we went in early December, we had no neighbors, and all the woodland creatures stayed snug in their woodland homes. We didn’t have to deal with any poor behavior (actually, with all the new sights, smells, and change, Rufus did incredibly well, good dog!). It was dark and wet when we arrived at our campsite, and once we sited the trailer and parked the car, we learned the first challenge in camping with a dog.

Camping with a dog Challenge #1: Where to tie the leash?

We didn’t want to keep Rufus in the car all the time, and we certainly weren’t going to leave him in the trailer unsupervised, that meant keeping him on a leash, and securing the leash while we set up camp and cooked dinner.  Easier said, than done. The only tie down point on our trailer is the front tow bar, which worked fine, except when it meant he was in the way while we were setting up our awning/tarp. It also meant that he was out in the elements along with us while we set up camp. 

Tying Rufus to the front of the trailer also posed a challenge while we were in the galley getting dinner ready. He couldn’t see us and we couldn’t see him, which didn’t seem right. Once dinner was ready, we had a brief break in the weather, and broke out our spanking-new Kelty Lowback Loveseat Camp Chair (which we’ll review in another post, cause that thing is awesome!!!). The thing about a lightweight, folding loveseat is that it is, well, lightweight. We secured Rufus’ leash to the loveseat, and then had to take turns getting up to get our supper to keep Rufus from dragging it along with him.

Camping with a dog Challenge #2: Going to the Washroom

Dogs can, and will, do their “business” anywhere, and when it’s raining #1 is no problem, #2 is fine as well as long as you have your doggie bags with you and keep him out of other campsites or prohibited areas. But what do you do when you have to go to the washroom (or anywhere away from camp, for that matter)?

Again, we were fortunate in that the campground was empty, so we just took Rufus into the washroom with us. Cement floors, figured not that big of a deal, though most likely against the rules in a state park. However, and something we didn’t think about, getting up in the middle of the night also meant getting dressed in the trailer, with two bodies and a dog filling the space, as well as getting Rufus leashed and his coat on. Then returning to the trailer required everything in reverse, including wiping off his paws and coat to keep the bed from getting filthy and wet. 

Not exactly a lap dog, is he?

Camping with a dog Challenge #3: Is it really bigger on the inside?

Rufus is allowed to sleep on the bed at home from time to time. When we went on our first overnight, we found the cabin of our teardrop trailer to be quite spacious, surprisingly so. We figured Rufus would sleep at our feet, and as the mattress is as big as the bed at home, it would be no big deal.

Reality proved otherwise. 

He loved sleeping with the hoomans, and as we expected, treated the cabin of the trailer as the best doggie den ever! While Rufus eventually settled down and did sleep at our feet, he also spent a fair bit of time glomping on us. All of this was a lot of fun until it came to actual time to sleep. With a full-size dog taking the back third of the cabin, stretching the width of the cabin, we either had to allow him to sleep on our feet, or curl up. We thought he’d slide under the cabinetry, but he didn’t really want to. While this wasn’t entirely different geometry than at home, where it makes a huge difference is when you have gear (clothing, bags, etc…) not stored in the cupboards. We had shoe bags to keep our shoes in, one piece of luggage, and some incidentals stashed in the “corner” of the cabin, this isn’t going to work in the future if Rufus comes with us. 

Having Rufus in the cabin made sleeping more uncomfortable and cramped than we anticipated, and while we don’t think it’s prudent to have him sleep in the car overnight, and figure this might not be as big of an issue in good weather, we’re not sure what the solution is, yet.


Do you travel with your dog or other pets in your teardrop? How do you deal with our three challenges?

Share your ideas and experiences in the comments below!


  1. John Agricola

    In 2016, we went on our “Once in a Lifetime” Teardrop trip from Akron, Oh. to the NW National Parks…down the Wash. and Oregon Coast to the Redwoods…and back up to Glacier NP and home. We spent 5 weeks on the road. Our outfit is a Honda Element and a Little Guy 5×8 Silver Shadow. We always travel with Rider…our 15 lb Cavashon. Always. So we’ve gained some insights on the subject of traveling with dogs.

    Do you think it’s possible that your setup is just plain too small for a family member of Rufus’ size? We are used to Rider sleeping in our Queen size bed at home. We sometimes wish the bed was a bit wider, but we’ve made due for the past 7 years that Rider has been in our family. Our teardrop bed is maybe 3-4″ narrower, but at least you’re against a wall and can’t fall out of bed. Rider sleeps at our feet between us. Then, of course, there’s the fact that inside a teardrop you have absolutely nothing but a bed. There’s no standing room, no sitting room…just BED. And you need to keep it sort of clean.

    We also had to make room for everything needed for our dog on a 5 week trip. The stuff we had with us got on our nerves after a while. A major bonus with a teardrop is that, when you’re tired at night, you simply step out of your car and get into your camper. But on this long trip we had to use the cabin of our teardrop to “store” stuff during the day. At night, we had to take all that stuff and pile it on the front seats and on the dash. Then in the morning we’d reverse the process. After a while we had to stop for a few hours in a parking lot, take EVERYTHING out, and put it back in in some sort of orderly manner. All while compliant little Rider curled up in a corner somewhere waiting for us.

    Over the past 25 years of camping, I’ve observed hundreds of campers who travel with their pets. It looks like the larger the pet, the more accommodation has to be made for their presence. Rider’s first acquaintance in Acadia was a Newfoundland in the site next to us. Those folks were in a BIG Class C and it was easy to see that, while we had to give a bit of constant thought to Rider’s needs and wants, these folks’ Newfoundland required a large percentage of their attention.

    If your tow vehicle can handle a bigger camper, maybe that would help you guys.

    I know I’ve gotten carried away…sorry.


  2. Kathy

    I found out most of these dog, teardrop, camping situations but my dog only weighs 35 lbs. I would in your case bring a dog crate with warm bedding in the car. And maybe buy a tie down that screws in the ground. Bathroom trips I bring my dog in with me as I am a solo traveler most times.

  3. Diane Ewoldt

    3 Corgis equals about 105 pounds of dog not to mention 12 feet clomping around the bed until they settle down for the night. You need an easy to set up side room tent that your door will open into- cause your dog will woof at EVERY little thing that goes bump in the night (and no one will get any sleep) if you leave them in the car or in a tent by themselves. These side room tents are also great little changing rooms. They attach to the side of the teardrop with a channel (google SailRite- you can make one from any tent with minor sewing skills). We travel with a dog hammock in the back seat to protect the upholstery from muddy paws, and throw 2 padded dog beds on the tent floor for them. I also carry a 3×5 polypropylene patio rug that folds into an 18″ square – helps to control the muddy paws- or at least gives you a clean dry place to wipe the paws.
    We also find that attaching a guy wire between 2 trees, or the picnic bench & a tree and slipping the leash on it gives the dog a little more room to roam in your camp spot. It’s also more secure than the screw in stakes.
    Waterproof stuff sacks (boat bags) are also great for storing extra stuff- we have a roof rack on the teardrop and these can be secured on top out of the way.

  4. Rena

    I have a 12# Pomchi. Tucker loves camping but when I have a friend with me, space is an issue. I have a 10×10 tent that I put up right next to the camper and crack the door for ventilation. In the warm weather Tucker goes into his portable crate in the tent at night. Same thing for the cool months but with a portable space heater in the tent and a towel/blanket over the crate. To tie him out I have a spike type of metal stand that I pound into the ground near the opening of the tent. The leash I have is mesh and has a reflective strip in it that helps at night. I also have a dog mat that goes outside the tent for him to rest during the day. Over the last year I have developed an easy routine with him. The other hint I offer is for when you walk your dog at night. Tucker is solid black and hard to see in the dark. I bought a few of the very inexpensive head lamps from Wal Mart and put one on him around his neck when we walk. Makes it very easy to see where he is heading. Good luck with your travels with Rufus.

  5. Lorelei

    My dog child is 55 pounds. I tie him to the spare tire or front frame with a long enough rope to get to the back. I have a cloth, dirt colored shower curtain on the bed, easy to shake out and wash. I give him a light bed thing to sleep on outside if he wants to use it. At night, he takes half the trailer bed. I also have a mat for him to walk across my side of the bed which soaks up water from his feet. He likes to sleep by an open window. When I go to the restroom, I leave him locked in the trailer at night, and he just waits for my return. During the day, I sneak him in the restroom with me. I don’t know why no dogs are allowed, mine doesn’t mess indoors. If the restroom is a long trek, I have a Luggable Loo, so I’m not leaving him. So, he is no problem or challenge. He is not obnoxious and doesn’t bark at people or dogs unless they get pushy and come too close. There’s a lot of dog thievery, so I don’t leave him ever. Non-friendly dog places are the only problem. I take however much dog food in the Xterra and water from home or he can have bottled water. I don’t pile stuff in the trailer, so we can nap wherever.

  6. Vanessa Roach

    We travel with a 75 lb Labrador Retriever, Luca. Yes, we do agree that traveling with a dog seems easy in theory, but in actuality requires a lot of space and planning.

    We have an ARB awning, with a ARB side tent. This has proved to be a life saver for us. We did try to sleep with Luca in the teardrop with us. On a cold day, it is ok, although we do find that we are always struggling with where to put our feet, and Luca does not really like sliding under the cabinets (this is really the only place he can fit and still give us enough space). On a hot day, it’s unbearable. Luca breathes too heavy and sucks up all my air (LOL). Probably not true, but feels that way.

    It turns out that the best solution for us is to carry a foldable dog kennel, which we transport on our overhead rack on the teardrop. We set up this kennel in the side tent, with Luca’s super comfortable cushy bed inside the kennel. In warm weather, his kennel is just left completely open for airflow and the tent is well vented (it’s essentially an open cage). In cold weather, we wrap his kennel with a 0 degree rated sleeping bag, with a small opening for airflow. We have found that his kennel is actually warmer than the teardrop on those 35 degree overnighters.

    This works for all of us. Luca loves his kennel (much more than he likes the teardrop) and snuggles up in there nicely. He’s comfy and we’re comfy … not having to sleep with a big stinky dog. I sleep on the side of the teardrop that faces the tent (with my window open) to keep an eye on him, but haven’t really had an occasion to worry … he just goes right to sleep.

    The kennel also serves another purpose. We use the top of the kennel to store our luggage, extra jackets, a camp light, etc. That way we don’t need to keep these things in the teardrop. We use the side tent for changing clothes and we also keep a porta-potty in the side tent for those late night pee needs.

    The only issue we’ve noted so far, is that we need space (width) to deploy the side tent. We always try to get a site that is at least 12-15 ft wide. However, we have had occasions where we haven’t been able to deploy the side tent. In these instances, we make due, but it’s not as convenient and comfortable.

    As for tying down Luca. We have found that he needs to have access to the kitchen area while I’m cooking, or he feels so so lonely. We usually can find a tree (or the picnic table) to tie him to that allows access to the kitchen area, but keeps him from getting to the road. We keep him on a pretty long leash attached to a harness. He has finally learned not to get himself all wrapped up in the awning poles (too many times). However, we do spend some time walking him around things to untangle him. It’s just one of the joys of having a dog (LOL).

  7. Suzanne Prentis

    I travel alone with a greyhound. Bronco is a good traveller, but camping was new to him. I use a wire tied to the towbar and a suitable tree to make a “run”for him. He has a mattress and his water and bowl outside. On cold nights he sleeps in with me – provides warmth for both of us. He has his coat and rug. I carry extra water and food for him and have been able to leave him for up to couple of hours no worries. (He did find the esky and help himself to his chicken necks and sausages of mine). Toiletting is done with walks as normal. He has learnt to cope with no sofa to sleep on and we enjoy going away – Bronco, me and Crystal the tear drop. Sometimes my daughter joins us, but she prefers to sleep in a swag in the Toyota hilux back. The sacrifices to have him there are worth the times we share by the campfire, meeting people and having adventures.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *