Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

Tails of the City - Camping in a Variety of Environments

Campers and RVers are unquestionably some of the most mobile people in the world. In fact, many full-time RVers spend their entire life traveling from place to place. While mobility is clearly one of the things that makes RVing so appealing, it also means that you’ll inevitably find yourself in places that are very different from what you’re used to.

The introductions to each environment are from our book by Woodall's entitled "Camping and RVing with Dogs". We discuss different environments in great depth in the book. In this article, I will quickly share a dog experience that we have had from each type of environment.


Cities are considered to be one of the more challenging environments for people with dogs. However, if you check out any major urban area, you’ll see an endless variety of well-adjusted city dogs. Most dog owners stay in campgrounds outside the city and simply take their dog with them, when they go in.

A few years ago, we stayed in campground outside of Boston for while. Then, we would take our dog into the city for long days of walking and visiting. We quickly found an unfenced park with lots of dogs there. It wasn't an official dog park, but Boston is a VERY dog-friendly place. So, we were socializing and visiting other owners while we were watching our dog play off leash with a bull dog. Then, a friendly woman came up and started chatting with all of us in a friendly manner. Suddenly, she started lecturing all of us on the dangers of dogs, the diseases they carry, and the hazards that dogs pose to children in the park. So, beware in the city, some people love dogs-other people hate them.

In reality, if your dog is well-trained, you will find that the city is really a great place for them to visit. Just keep them on a close leash and bring plenty of your own water for them. I like those collapsible bowls and water bottles for the city.

The Desert

The desert represents one of the toughest natural environments in the world due to a severe lack of water; intense heat; treacherous plant life; and deadly predators. It’s also one of the most beautiful places on earth.

In my estimation, the desert is one of the most dangerous places for dogs. It is very hot, there are snakes, coyotes, and scorpions, and lots and lots and lots of paw-puncturing cactus. We have spent years in the desert with our dogs while RVing. In a nutshell, here is what I have found to be true.

1) With respect to cactus, you should put booties on your dog if you aren't that familiar with the desert. Even then, you should stick to well-marked trails and keep on alert at all times for fallen bits of cactus. We learned, from a park ranger friend, to take a comb and a small set of needle nose pliers with us everywhere I hiked. Eventually, my dogs learned to stop and pick up the paw that hurt and I would pull out the offending thorn with pliers. Then, we would be merrily on our way. (I don't recommend walking in the desert at all if your dog is a weenie, just stay on paved roads in the campgrounds. But, some of my fondest memories of my entire life are walking our dogs on desert swales with no-one around for miles and miles.)

2) Snakes can pose a major risk to your dog. If you have a rambunctious dog, you should probably keep them on a very short leash in the desert. Some dogs seem to just have a natural wariness about snakes and stay away from them. Others aren't quite so smart...let's leave it at that.

3) Water, Water, Water, and more Water for your dog. Period.

The Woods
Dogs love wooded areas. There’s always an infinite variety of smells and an abundance of interesting wildlife. However, like all natural environments, forests pose their own unique set of challenges.

I grew up in Maine where woods cover about 99.99999% of the state, so you could say that woods are my natural environment. The woods are really an ideal place for dogs. They can jump over rotting branches; chase a few squirrels; roll in some moss; and splash in some water.

The woods aren't one of the most dangerous places for dogs, but there are a couple things you should worry about. One of the major ones is ticks. Make absolutely sure you have tick protection for your dog before you take them into the woods. The other is to keep alert for wild animals. Recently, we were staying in North Carolina where they had a nature trail through the woods, next to a large field. I was walking my dog (and my two cats) on the trail when I suddenly heard something very large rustle the leave right in front of us. My first concern was for my dog because I knew that whatever it was, she would try to protect me from it. Well, it turned out to two large deer, who ran to the field and bounced through it in their silent magical half-flying leaps. I felt so blessed to see them!

Freshwater and Marine Environments

Whether it’s the ocean, a lake, or even a puddle, dogs like to splash around and get wet. If you’re staying at a park or a campground near a body of water, enjoy it with your dog.

I love to see my dogs splash around in the water. Aside from the obvious of making sure that there are no currents and that your dog needs to know how to swim, make sure you walk in the water yourself before letting your dog enter.

We are in Florida right now and luckily our beach is extremely dog friendly-No limitations. I don't usually like to speak ill of my home state, but Maine is really awful about its beaches. They hardly ever let dogs on beaches until off season when it is WAY too cold for a human being to be on the beach. Hint: Don't go on a beach in Maine in January!

But, one time I made a big mistake with water. I let me dog go into a river (no current hardly at all) without checking it out myself. When she came out, I started noticing blood everywhere. Well, she had stepped on something very sharp and cut her pad very deeply. When I went to look at the river more closely, I realized that part-goers had thrown their beer bottles all along the water line, so there was broken glass in the water. Never again will I let her go in without checking very carefully myself.

So, make sure you take your dog in lots of places-just use lots and lots of common sense!!!

Do you travel with your Dog? Here is a new Facebook Group founded by Julee Meltzer which is dedicated to Camping and RVing with Dogs. Please join us!

Camping and RVing with Dogs

This a group which welcomes anyone to share their photos, ideas, and anything related to Camping and RVing with Dogs. According to, almost half of all RVers travel with a dog.