Camping with Dogs

Chuckanut Westfalias

Camping with Dogs

( as told to Bob and Maureen by Bailey )

First let me say that I am one camp loving dog. One of the hardest things for me is when one of our rented vans heads down the driveway without me. It is not that I never get to camp. I spent over 120 nights sleeping in a van last year but I can’t seem to get enough! There is nothing better than sleeping on the floor of the van so close to Bob and Maureen and knowing that our next walk full of new sights and smells is just a few hours away.   As a fellow dog traveler I want to give you some sound advice that you should share with your owners when they take you van camping.


Bailey, packed up and ready to vacation!

Riding in the Van

  • I ride on the rear seat. Bob and Maureen bought me a really nice sunbrella cover and I am only allowed on the seat when the cover is in place. They get really mad if I get up on the seat without the cover and sometimes they have to shampoo the upholstery so the next renters don’t have to sleep with their face in my hair and dander. It takes two hours and they forfeit some of their deposit. I hate listening to Bob carry on as he cleans the seat.
  • I know that I am in the front seat for photos sometimes but I am so afraid to get up there that they have to bribe me with cookies. Bob and Maureen do not allow me up in the front seat….ever! (except the time Maureen broke her foot and there was no where else to sit).
  • When it is hot Bob puts little white fan on and points it toward me so that I don’t overheat. Sometimes he even closes the curtains on the sunny side of the van. Every time we stop I am allowed to get out of the van, do my business (usually at a McDonalds because they always have grass) and get a drink of water. We never ride with the overhead vent open because the plastic will break in the wind.

Chillin on the back seat!

All Alone-

  • I am so glad that we have a rule that I can never be alone in the van.…even for a quick stop. The van is my part time home and I still worry that I will be left alone in there. We were parked next to a van on the ferry once and the dog in the van next to us was left alone while the owners went up on deck. I felt so sorry for that little guy! He ran back and forth inside, barked constantly disturbing us as we were relaxing on the ferry. He had licked the windows, was scratching at the doors and I think he did a lot of damage. He might have even peed on the seat in his anxiety.
  • I am too big for a dog carrier but if I was smaller having a place I already know would ease my anxiety and I would not bark so much.  I don’t know why but small dogs sure get nervous.
  • Not being alone means that Bob and Maureen really don’t eat out much because there is nowhere for me to be while they are gone. I am lucky that they look for restaurants with outside seating because sometimes I can wait out there with them. I know I am an inconvenience but that is what they signed on for when they decided to take me camping. In Switzerland I can just go in the restaurant and lie on the floor if I behave but not in the U.S.A.

In the Campground-

  • I go everywhere on leash with Bob and Maureen when we are in a campground. It is against the rules but sometimes Bob even sneaks me in the men’s bathroom. One time we were at Kalaloch and Maureen let me off leash for just a couple of minutes so I could do my business in peace and a ranger came around the corner, gave her a lecture and a ticket for letting me be off leash! It was just for two minutes! Honest! Those rangers drive around in the early morning looking for dogs that are off leash! You can’t even pee in peace in State Parks and National Parks. Private campgrounds are much cooler and I can usually just run free.
  • Some beaches don’t even let dogs on the beach. When we go to California we need to be really careful because they think I will chase their birds (my favorite!). They even let motorcycles on their beaches but not dogs! It is not fair at all because we are the coolest animals on earth. Bob and Maureen always carry a long rope that I am tied to when we are in camp. Once I walked around the fire pit and my rope was burned in half. It is a hard adjustment for me but Bob says that it is for my safety because the raccoons in the campgrounds and the Fog Wolves on the coast are really dangerous. Once when we were in Banff a wolf walked right through the campground. There are groups of coyotes in some remote areas that try to get me to play with them and to have me for their dinner.

Why Don’t Other Van Rental Companies Allow Dogs?-I asked Bob and Maureen why other van companies don’t allow dogs (service dogs excepted). Here is what they told me.

  • A rental van is a new place for dogs and they are nervous. A perfectly calm dog that is accustomed to being home alone will bark, chew even pee in an unfamiliar enclosed van. A van ruined by a dog also ruins the next persons vacation and that is not fair to them.
  • Some people are allergic to dog dander and hair. Even the cleanest dog leaves hair and dander behind and most often the van seats are shampooed after a dog rental. This is a lot of extra work and the $50 fee doesn’t cover it.
  • People leave their dogs in the van while they go in the store or on a ferry or in a restaurant and the dogs wind up in the front seat scratching the dash board and door panels, barking and slobbering all over the windows. Re-painting a dash board is a $500 project that is done by their detail shop and renters are responsible.

Dogtini for my birthday.

I hope that you bring your dog because there is nothing cooler than camping with a dog but be sure that you know the responsibilities that go along with the experience.

Camp On!!


Animal Coordinator

Chuckanut Westfalias LLC