Jan 29, 2023

Vanlife with dogs

Written by Nadine


Once you have decided to have a dog, it is obvious to take the beloved four-legged friend with you on vacation. Camping vacations are, in my opinion, perfect for dogs, as you travel by car and can thus save the dog a stressful journey by plane. 

But traveling with the dog of course also holds such pitfalls and you should be prepared for some. 

In the following blog article I have tried to work out the most important topics so that you can go on vacation relaxed with your dog.


This article contains affiliate links. 

The most important point...

... right at the beginning. Never leave your dogs alone in the car from spring to summer, because in just a few minutes the inside of the car can heat up to 70° Celsius on a warm summer day!

Even if you leave the windows open a bit and park in the shade, the temperature inside the car can get muggy and too hot. Dogs regulate their body heat almost exclusively by panting, but this is no longer possible at too high temperatures and it can lead to irreparable organ damage or cardiac arrest. Even a dog that is rescued alive from an overheated car can die as a result of overheating.


!!! Do not leave your dog alone in the car!


Is your dog used to traveling by car?

Before you rush to go on vacation and possibly the trip becomes a disaster, you should practice driving with the dog in advance. 

First of all it is important to assess the dog. Does he stay in the car without any problems? Is he nervous? Does he vomit quickly while driving? Does he not want to get into the car at all?

When you have found out the actual condition, it is best to practice as small steps as possible. 

For example, start rewarding getting in and out of the car, close the tailgate for a short time and reinforce each step positively with treats or toys. Once this is stress-free for the dog, you can go for a short drive around the block. Try to make the ride as pleasant as possible for the dog. Young dogs usually help when they ride in a carrier, as they don't feel lost in the car. It can also help dogs that often vomit while driving. 

The transport box can be set up at home and already positively occupied by hiding treats there or playfully teaching the dog to go into the dog box and pause there briefly. At some point you can close the box and leave the room for a short time. Many dogs also like to use the box as a place of retreat in the home environment. 

Otherwise applies:

  • take enough breaks for your dog (you know your dog best)
  • always leave the dog leashed at the rest stop, you never know how the dog will behave there.
  • don't feed the dog before you start your journey and don't give him/her many treats/chew bones on the way. So the dog cannot get sick so quickly.

Entry requirements and vacation first aid kit

Before the big trip starts, you should inform oneself, which entry regulations for the desired vacation country prevail. 

In some countries, the dogs need certain vaccinations or treatments against parasites that must have taken place in a certain period before entry. Also consider which countries you travel through. 

On europa.eu you can find the travel regulations for EU countries.

Furthermore, it makes sense to compile a first aid kit. 


For open small wounds I always carry a first aid kit for dogs. There are the usual bandages and a cooling bath, iodine wipes and a rescue blanket. 

In addition, I also carry the following items:

  • Tick Tongs - I like both the gripping tongs and the tongs that you just slide under the tick and twist to loosen it. It is a matter of taste with which one comes along better.
  • Silver spray - For me the non plus ultra of wound care. I personally am not a friend of bandages, usually the bandage causes more damage than the injury itself. The friction usually creates open areas and it is easily inflamed. For wounds that are not particularly deep, I clean them first and then spray the wound with silver spray. Even with injuries on the bale I have done well with it. 
  • Dog shoes - On some terrain it offers itself to put on the dog special shoes. Often the paws are not accustomed to the load of larger hikes. Especially if the dog cools down on the hike in a lake or other water, it happens quickly on stony paths that the skin on the paws runs off and the dog runs out of round. But also in the snow it can make sense especially with longhaired dogs to become shoes because the snow does not collect on the hair between the paws.Important here! Make sure that the shoes fit properly and are not too big or too small. Accustom the dog best before the vacation to the shoes, in the beginning, actually every dog finds it strange at first, but when it goes on a walk it is usually quickly forgotten. 
  • Traumeel - Traumeel is a homeopathic remedy. I give it to my dogs when they have muscle problems, lameness or acute sports injuries. It is supposed to have an anti-inflammatory effect and to speed up the healing process. 
  • Gastrointestinal tablets - If you like to go to the sea and have a water-loving dog, it can quickly come through the swallowed salt water to intestinal problems. But also by ingested food residues it can come very quickly to a gastrointestinal upset, which then usually manifests itself in diarrhea. For this purpose I use the tablets from beaphar, which usually provide very fast relief and are also freely available. 


  • inform yourself about the entry regulations of your destination but also of the transit countries
  • carry a valid vaccination certificate (EU pet passport) with you (this should be filled out correctly: chip number, owner address, vaccinations)
  • be sufficiently prepared for minor injuries of your dog

How do I secure my dog while driving?

This issue is really not easy to solve in the Caddy. The safest option for the dog is certainly a robust aluminum box that is sufficiently secured in the trunk. Now in the minimalist Caddy is usually simply too little space and the box while sleeping outside to place is of course also not a really sensible solution. 

Unfortunately, I have not found a final solution yet. Nevertheless, I present you three variants:

  • There are harnesses where you can then secure the dog via the belt system for the journey. To my knowledge, however, these cut off very badly in the crash tests. In addition, this variant is also only suitable for Caddys that still have a back seat installed. 
  • I (Nadine) have the luggage net from VW, which is hooked on top of the body and below in the trunk at the holding points. Of course, this solution is not optimal, but the danger that the dog is thrown through the car in an accident is very low. 
  • Franz and Christian of caddy_wilma_21 have designed a retractable wooden dog box. This can be extended before the journey upward, Sodass the dog in the car is protected. You can find more about the extension in our community.

There is no non plus ultra is in the Caddy, at least not without large space losses, since everyone must look where and how you can make compromises with a good feeling. 

Bella in ihrer versenkbaren Hundebox

Gadgets that have proven to be very useful for me

For camping as well as for dogs there are countless things that you can buy to make life easier. The following gadgets have proven to be very useful to me over the years:

  • Fastening on campsites - indispensable for me. You usually don't have a fence or something similar in the caddy and on almost all campsites the dogs have to be leashed. There are two variants, once a spiral which is turned into the ground to leash the dogs there. However, this works mainly in soil, in stony ground it can usually not be reindrehen. I use the spiral also on the beach when I surf, but only to signal to others that the dogs are leashed and you should not approach just like that. If a dog it wirklcih on it anliegt he can pull the spiral of course from the sand. 
    There is also a stainless steel plate on which one drives, with one of the four tires, in order to fasten it. On the plate is an opening to attach the line there. This variant is particularly suitable for larger / heavier dogs.
  • Air circulation in the Caddy
    If your Caddy has a tailgate, it is possible to fix it with a tailgate opener a bit. Thus, you are sufficiently supplied with fresh air at night, but is also useful when traveling with dog(s). For example, if the dog needs a break and with the tailgate open is difficult to rest, you can provide the necessary peace and still get enough firn air into the Caddy.

    To ensure that the air can circulate sufficiently, air grilles are available for the front side windows. These are inserted into the open window then with then clamped with the closing window. 

    !! Nevertheless, never leave the dog alone in the car in summer - even with tailgate opener and air grilles !!!

  • Water supply
    In order to provide the dog with sufficient water even on long car trips, there are special water bowls that are equipped with an anti-slosh function. Thus one can leave the bowl also during the journey in the dog box/trunk and the dog can supply itself independently with water. At the campsite, the function can also be removed the bowl can be used as usual.

    On hikes and to reduce the pack size in the caddy own so-called folding bowls. These are designed so that they are folded and can be stored after use to save space.

    If you offer water in the bowl on a hike, you are often faced with the problem that you can not pour extra water back into the bottle and thus have to throw away the remaining water. To avoid this, there are water bottles that have the water bowl integrated in the lid. If not all the water is drunk, you can pour it back into the bottle.

  • Securing on longer hikes
    On hikes it is often necessary to lead the dogs on a leash. For a short distance this is usually no problem, on longer hikes the leash in the hand often becomes an obstacle, especially on difficult terrain. Here leashes with expanders as well as risers are a good remedy. Both gadgets are also ideal for jogging with the dog.