We have been traveling full time with our van life dog, Jits, for two years now. Before that he was living in an apartment with us in New York City so van life was quite change for all of us. Recently we got a new addition to our van life family with little Uke, the chihuahua puppy. Training Uke got us to thinking about all the little things we do to make sure our van life dogs are as happy as possible and we wanted to share a few of them with you!

Our dog Jits, a well trained van life dog


A new van is very exciting! When we first got our van we were sure to put Jitsy’s bed and some of his toys on board so that he knew where ‘his spot’ was on board. It’s important to use an old bed and old toys that have your dogs smell already on them. This will give them some familiar scents in the new space. Our van life dog, Jits, likes to ride up front with us so we ended up cutting his old bed down to fit between the driver and passenger seat where he is a happy passenger.


With travel and a new backyard every day it can be hard for dogs to know where their yard ends and the wild begins. Jits has gotten very good with staying near the van but as we train Uke we have been using something more physical to mark out space. He has a picnic rug and we will put that outside where we make camp- this gives a defined space to sit and play. We use commands like ‘on the mat’ when he wanders and then we put him back on his mat and say the command again. (Eventually he will be like Jits and naturally stay close but for now the mat is helpful tool in van life dog training.

van life with two dogs


Jits is definitely a shedder but thankfully he LOVES a good brush. We brush him all the time outside; this is also a good time to do regular checks for ticks in the summer and especially if you are travelling in the northeastern United States. To manage hair inside the van we have a Milwaukee 12V rechargeable vacuum which is great for in the van.

For bath time, Uke likes to jump in the indoor TOURIG shower with us (and with him being so small that works great). Jits gets to use the TOURIG rear wash down shower, which also has hot water, so he has total luxury! We use Mossy Oak Outdoor dog shampoo; they have a citronella and a matching dog spray which is great for keeping bugs away from our good boys when they are adventuring.

Clipping nails, some dogs just hate having a manicure. We use a rechargeable dremil to do Jits’ nails. He still isn’t a big fan but he prefers it to clippers. With Uke we have been making a special effort to always play with his paws while he is a puppy to get him comfortable with it and ready for nail clippings. It’s been successful as he is very calm and will let us clip and file his nails without a fuss.

Kate and Jits


We don’t want any dog accidents in the rig so we have a morning routine with the dogs to go wizz and poop. They get rewarded with a greenie for going potty. As they are both very food motivated it didn’t take long for them to be up in the mornings, done with potty and sitting eagerly ready for a treat before driving. We also feed the dogs at the same times every day, which helps keep poops on schedule.


Dogs love being around their owners and the van gives them plenty of that for sure. They have lots of outdoor time, new smells and places to explore. We can’t imagine this van life journey without our dogs and we hope you and your best friend can enjoy the van life, too!

Jits and Uke playing outside the van