I’m sure for most pooches anywhere with their number one humans will feel like home. But soon enough you might find them wondering when they get to go home and rest on their favourite doggy bed. This was the case with my girl Ruby every time we went to visit anyone. She’d love the car ride, the excitement of the adventure and all the new smells, but she was always so happy the moment we got home and she was able to snuggle into my bed where she’d sleep for hours. So I was very determined to make my dog feel at home in my van when I decided to travel full time on the road.

What does your dog love?

Like humans, dogs have their own personalities and for each dog there’ll be the things they consider ‘homey’. It’s your job to watch your dog and work out what these things are and to incorporate them into your van space.

You might consider things like:

  • Where they eat their food
  • Do they like being inside or outside
  • Where do they sleep
  • Do they like being with you all the time
  • Do they like their own space
  • Do they like car rides
  • Do they like to play with toys
  • Do they like other dogs
  • Do they sleep with you
  • Have they got a lot of material things
  • What do they eat
  • What’s their favourite thing to do
  • Do they sleep through the night
  • Have you got more than one pet to accommodate
  • What do they avoid
  • What makes them uncomfortable

Incorporating these things into your van

Ok so I don’t want to overwhelm you with the idea that you have to take all of these things listed above and find a vehicle with everything ready to go. What’s required is for you to remain open minded and to get space creative. Try picturing your pet in the space and where you can add their ‘homey’ spaces in and around yours.

You may need to look at the size of your fridge if they eat a lot of wet food. A space for their dog bed if they have one. A secure outdoor place to hook their lead if they like being outside. Dog friendly fabrics if they like being on the furniture. A place out of the way if they eat their food in a specific area. A drawer or their own for all those doggy outfits. You get the idea.

Ways I have made my dog feel at home in my van

  • I firstly found a vehicle with enough space for us to be both comfortable. Ruby likes her space and I ruled out all the vans with slim corridors and no seating areas.
  • Ruby loves to spy on the neighbors but she’s a little anxious so I have a van with a lot of large windows so she can watch what’s going on outside but feel safe and secure inside.
  • She loves to play sometimes so I have a little hanging basket that holds a few of her smaller toys, it’s out of the way and it’s available when she wants it.
  • She prefers to be inside and loves to lay under tables and on the cool kitchen floors, my U shaped seating area is perfect for her to spread out under.
  • One of the things I put the most work into was the fact Ruby loves to be on comfy things – especially my bed. Having a Winnebago style van I sought through a literal world full of dog stairs and ramps until I got the perfect set ordered from the US. This allows her to safely get up and down from the high bed. She also spends a lot of time sleeping on the couch.
  • Luckily my dog doesn’t have a lot of material possessions she’s attached to. I have one lambs wool rug she lays on sometimes that fits perfectly between the drivers seats. And all of her leads hang on my coat rack in the door way.

Making the move into the van

I didn’t want to move into my van and hit the road with my dog the next day, I knew she wouldn’t like it. So after selling my house I lived at my mum’s place. Once I purchased my van I was able to have Ruby in and out as I was renovating it and slowly moving in all of my things. This way she was able to get used to the space, the smells and how everything all worked.

Once everything was pretty much done I moved in with Ruby full time but still had it parked at my mum’s so she felt safe. We lived in the van for almost two months before hitting the road for the first time. In this time it became her new home and she was happy to be in there. And since she’s always happy to return to the van at the end of every day.

I recommend allowing this time before you drive away to make your dog feel at home in your van. They need to imprint themselves on the space and feel safe if you need to leave them in there knowing you’ll return to them.

Life on the road with your pooch

Once you’ve made the move into the van it’s important to keep their routine as much as you can accommodate. If they normally walk in the morning or afternoon, keep that routine. If they have dinner at a certain time or play fetch at 10am every day. What ever it is try to keep that routine going so they know they aren’t forgotten in the midst of all the traveling fun and stress.

It will make your dog just that little bit happier to call your van home when they feel like you’re still considering their needs.

Do you travel with your dog? I would love to hear all of the quirky things you’ve done to make them feel at home below. Or if you’re thinking of hitting the road with Fido ask me any questions you like.

Happy wandering x