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An important part of preparing for van life with a pup means stocking up on the best dog gear for van life.

My guess is you are now living the dream or planning to do so by hitting the road and seeing as much of the world as your four wheels will take you. Now add a four-legged friend to the mix to make your journey that much more fun. Dogs add another dimension to van life and can make your van life experience much more joyful, bright and full of adventure. But having the best dog gear for van life can make a huge difference.

I know this because I’ve been traveling with dogs for two years now and have loved every minute of it. In my journeys, I have found that although your pups do not need much, there are a few pieces of dog gear for van life that make it easier to keep you and your pup happy. To make this transition a breeze I have compiled a list of the most useful items you can have for a dog on the road! Read on to find out which dog gear is the must-haves for van life! 

**All text and photos provided by Brie Goumaz of Chasing the Wild Goose**

A Good Quality Leash

Often van life with a dog means them running off-leash in the middle of a beautiful desert or a green lush wilderness. The truth is, more often than not, our dogs stay on leash. Although they are out exploring most hours of the day, they still have to follow the rules and remain civilized. This means you need one good quality leash. 

It can take time to find that perfect leash that works for both you and your pup but it is worth the investment. The last thing you have room for in the van is 3-4 leashes that get knotted up and don’t have a proper place. My recommendation and a leash that is tried and true is the Ruff Wear Knot a Leash. It is a simple leash that lasts forever and is recommended by trainers! Psst, don’t forget that you need a nice harness to go with that leash. We recommend the Ruff Wear harness as like the leash it is durable, well priced, and has great reviews!


It’s important in a small space to have something for you to direct your pup’s attention to when you want to move them away from your phone, shoes, cords and even bed. Deer or Elk antlers are antlers that are naturally shed from young bucks and then sellers go through and pick them up to sell. They have literally saved so many items in my van from being destroyed and  I cannot recommend them enough. They are easy enough to buy and come in a pack so you don’t have to worry about running out. 

Being in a van means you don’t have a great space for a messy bone which is why antlers are so great. There is no residue or gunk that comes off onto your cushions and they last forever which makes them budget-friendly. A pro tip: Make sure you are buying authentic antlers that fell off naturally and not the plastic ones that you sometimes will see at the store.


Some days on the road are filled with adventure hiking up a mountain or searching desert canyons. Other days are spent driving to your next destination or restocking in the city. Even though we don’t need adventure every day our pups still need stimulation and exercise which is why it’s important to teach them to play fetch or frisbee for these occasions. There are many days when I will take my pups to the local off-leash dog parks and play frisbee for a good hour or two to wear them out properly. The West paw frisbee is our favorite frisbee and has lasted a year now with no signs of wear. It is flexible and stores pretty easily, plus West Paw has a great warranty policy. 

If your dog is more of a ball dog, then check out the Chuck it Sport Launch which comes in a “pint-size” which is great for the van where you don’t have a ton of space. The Chuck it allows you to easily launch the ball long distances so your dog can get all their energy out without completely wearing their human out! 

Water Bowl 

Having a permanent water bowl in the van can be pretty difficult since you are constantly on the move and do not want to worry about spills. However, you want your dog to be able to have access to water most of the time and not stress about whether you put it up when driving. My favorite water bowl that has proven to hold up even in the sketchiest of roads, is the Franklin spill-proof bowl. I have left it on the countertop and the floor while driving and I’m yet to have a spill. It cleans easily, stores easily, and is a great price! 

One Quality Chew Toy

Even though you exercise your dog and make sure they get proper stimulation, they are still going to have to spend some time in the van. This is why they need a fun toy to keep them busy during downtimes. Our favorite toy is a simple chew bone from West Paw. It can survive even the sharpest puppy teeth and hasn’t fallen apart through our two newest pups. It’s simple, not overpriced and well worth your investment. It’s also a great distraction on those long drives or days when the weather doesn’t allow for long walks or epic hikes out in the wilderness. 

Just like you, your dog doesn’t need much in the van to stay happy! From food, shelter, love, and a few essentials you and your pup should be all set! Once you have this dog gear for van life you can hit the road ready to explore with your best friend! Do you have any dog gear for van life that I missed? 

If you enjoyed this piece, check out other dog-related content, including how to find dog-friendly campsites and how to customize your van to prepare for vanlife with a dog!