Camping with Dogs: Pet-Friendly VW Cars

golden retriever dog sat in the back of an open car

With 10 million devoted dog owners in the UK, and over 7 million of those hitting the road with their four-legged friend week after week, the quest for the right vehicle becomes paramount.

Volkswagen is no strangers to crafting canine-friendly cars. Whether you’re the proud owner of a tiny lap dog or an enormous hound, Volkswagen’s lineup has something to suit you and the dog.

We’ve put together everything you could need or want to know about going camping with your dogs, we’ll cover:

  • How to choose the right car for your dog
  • Size matters: The right VW for your pooch
  • Dog-friendly VWs
  • Essential camping accessories
  • Best practices when camping with dogs
  • Safety first, adventure second

Ready? Let’s hit the road.

Choosing the best car for your dog

When out car hunting, it’s important to take a few things into account to ensure maximum comfort, safety and cleanliness when you’re out on the open road.

  • Boot size: The ideal boot size isn’t just a matter of spaciousness; it’s about dimensions that cater to your pup’s natural comfort. Look for a tall boot that ensures your pup can sit naturally and comfortably without needing to crouch or stoop.
  • Boot lip: For smaller or elderly dogs, a low boot lip is essential. A low boot (opening 60-70cm off the ground) ensures they can get in and out easily, while a minimal drop prevents joint strain when they’re excitedly jumping out and heading for a walk.
  • Durable boot space: Boot space that can handle chaos is a must. With muddy paws and scratching nails, you need a space that can handle the wear and tear of your pup’s presence
  • Sliding seats: For larger companions, sliding seats offer the extra room needed to stretch out and revel in the journey. It’s all about comfort, especially on those long road trips.
  • Wipe-clean floors: Camping, hiking and dog walks can get messy, but your car doesn’t have to bear the brunt. Opt for wipe-clean floors that make tidying up a breeze.

Choosing the right VW car model for your dog’s size

When it comes to selecting the right VW car model for your furry friend’s size, it’s essential to consider their comfort and safety. Volkswagen offers a range of vehicles that cater to dogs of all sizes, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey for both you and your canine companion.

Small dogs

For smaller breeds, the VW Golf emerges as an excellent choice. This compact yet stylish vehicle provides a cosy and comfortable ride for your pint-sized pup. With its thoughtfully designed interior, your small dog can relax and enjoy the journey while nestled in a secure and snug environment.

Medium dogs

If your four-legged friend falls into the medium-sized category, the spacious VW Tiguan is tailor-made for their needs. Medium-sized dogs will relish the room to stretch out and settle comfortably during the journey.

The VW Tiguan’s generous cargo area and fold-flat rear seats offer ample space for your pup to enjoy the ride to the fullest.

Large dogs

For those with larger dogs or multiple companions, the VW Atlas steps onto the scene as the epitome of comfort and space. This SUV’s expansive interior is ideal for accommodating your big and beloved furry friend.

When you’ve got a huge hound on your hands, the Atlas stands as potentially the best car for camping with dogs (and children!) due to the third-row seating that expands into a haven fit for royalty.

Pet-friendly VW cars for dog owners

Choosing the best car for camping with dogs doesn’t need to be a struggle.

With a selection of models designed to cater to both human and canine needs, we’ve handpicked a list of the most pet-friendly Volkswagen models to ensure your journey is as smooth as can be:

Volkswagen Campervan

No list would be complete without the classic Volkswagen campervan. A true icon of the open road, the VW campervan is an embodiment of the spirit of exploration.

The current VW California 6.1 model still boasts the same timeless charm and ingenious design, it’s a top choice for dog owners seeking unforgettable journeys.

Inside, you’ll find a carefully crafted space that caters to every need. From cosy sleeping quarters for you and your pup to a convenient kitchenette for preparing meals, the VW campervan ensures that every aspect of your camping experience is covered.

Whether you’re parked in a scenic spot or cruising down winding roads, the VW campervan becomes your home on wheels – a place where every moment is enjoyable for you and your best friend.

Volkswagen Tiguan

When it comes to combining comfort, convenience and adventure, this beloved SUV is a haven for both driver and dog.

The Volkswagen Tiguan’s spacious cargo area and fold-flat rear seats make it a fantastic VW car for dog owners, providing ample space for your canine companion to stretch out, relax and enjoy the ride – whether that means snoozing or gazing out of the window.

But the Tiguan offers more than just a comfortable space. Its impressive four-wheel drive capability is a game-changer for pet owners who love outdoor escapades.

Whether you’re exploring rugged terrains or venturing off the beaten path, the Tiguan’s strong traction and control provide the confidence you need to tackle uneven terrain while keeping your dog safe and secure.

With a roomy interior, the Tiguan makes it easy for your pup to lounge out and snooze – just in time for a day exploring.

Volkswagen Golf 8

When it comes to embarking on camping trips and hitting the open road with your dog, the Volkswagen Golf Mk 8 is the ultimate choice, combining agility, versatility and style.

Designed with both drivers and their four-legged friends in mind, the Golf offers a seamless blend of functionality and aesthetics – an ideal choice for small to medium-sized dogs.

The Golf’s agility is a standout feature, making it perfect for navigating through various terrains and destinations. Whether you’re exploring countryside trails or cruising along scenic routes, this compact car delivers a dynamic and responsive drive.

Whether you’re planning a weekend camping getaway or a leisurely road trip, the Golf ensures that your dog’s comfort and convenience are a top priority.

Volkswagen Touareg

As the king of spaciousness, the Volkswagen Touareg offers everyday practicality – a haven for larger dogs or multiple companions. There’s no need to pack light.

This spaciousness offers ample room for your furry friends to stretch out, move around and make themselves at home during every drive.

This SUV’s panoramic sunroof adds a touch of luxury to your camping experience. Inviting natural light and fresh air, every moment on the road a shared delight as your passengers and pup watch the world pass by.

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Volkswagen T-Cross

A smaller yet incredibly versatile SUV, the Volkswagen T-Cross stands out as a compact vehicle that doesn’t compromise on functionality or comfort.

But here’s the best bit. Made to perfectly suit your canine companion, the sliding rear seats free up more room in the boot area, accommodating your dog’s needs and ensuring a comfortable journey.

Whether your dog wants to stretch out or curl up in a cosy spot during the ride, the T-Cross offers the flexibility to make that happen.

One of the challenges during travel, especially with dogs, can be dealing with motion sickness. The T-Cross addresses this with its smooth riding experience, particularly on the motorway.

This attribute is particularly advantageous for dogs prone to travel sickness, ensuring a more enjoyable ride for them and a worry-free drive for you.

Essential accessories for camping with dogs in your VW

Comfort and safety should be your top priority. To ensure your dog’s happiness, health and comfort throughout the journey, consider these essential accessories:

Car harness for dogs: Safety first, adventure second

Simple and necessary, a car harness is your trusty tool to keep your pup safe and sound throughout your journey – whether it’s a ten-minute trip to the park or an all-day road trip.

The Highway Code stipulates that dogs must be suitably restrained so they can’t create distraction while driving, and a car harness/seat belt fits the bill.

Remarkably, over a third of dog owners travel with their dogs unrestrained – a recipe for disaster. However, danger can easily be avoided by investing in a quality car harness that securely attaches to the seatbelts.

It doesn’t take a lot to take the responsible step towards providing a secure environment for both your pup and passengers.

Seat covers: Shielding your VW’s interior

Let’s face it – our dogs aren’t the tidiest travel companions. Camping with dogs is synonymous with a lot of muddy walks, and nobody wants the day’s adventure left behind on your seats.

Invest in waterproof seat covers to shield your VW’s interior from the inevitable dirt, dog hair and filthy paw prints that go hand-in-hand with outdoor explorations. These protective covers not only preserve the cleanliness of your Volkswagen’s interior but also offer a stylish touch to your dog-friendly ride.

Tailored custom VW seat covers are available to seamlessly fit your vehicle, offering an extra layer of protection that ensures your VW remains in pristine condition while you and your pup explore the great outdoors.

Dog guards and dog cages: Secure and comfortable travel

For those with larger breeds or a preference for heavy-duty solutions, dog cages provide the ultimate in security and comfort during your travels.

These sturdy enclosures prevent your canine companion from escaping and causing distractions while you navigate the road. Moreover, they offer a layer of protection during sudden braking or collisions, prioritising your pup’s safety in unexpected scenarios.

Alternatively, the Highway Code suggests a dog guard as another viable option.

By effectively converting your boot area into a dedicated space for your dog, a dog guard prevents pets from entering the rest of the vehicle, minimising distractions and safeguarding them from being jolted forward during abrupt stops.

With model-specific options available, you can choose a dog guard that seamlessly integrates into your VW, ensuring both longevity and functionality.

Best practices for camping with dogs in your VW

Pre-trip vet visit

Before the wheels start rolling, your dog’s health and safety need to come first. A pre-trip vet visit is always a good idea to ensure your furry friend is in prime condition for the road ahead. Ensure that vaccinations are up-to-date to prevent any potential health risks.

Additionally, consider microchipping your dog for added security, and don’t forget to attach a tag to their collar featuring your contact details. This simple precaution can make all the difference if your dog were to ever become separated from you during your travels.

Pack the essentials

Packing for your pup is as crucial as packing for yourself. Keep this checklist handy to ensure you’ve ticked off everything you need for a good trip.

Must-have checklist for dog owners camping with their VW cars

  1. VW dog guard or car harness: Safeguarding your dog’s safety during travel.
  2. Water and collapsible bowl: Ensuring your pup stays hydrated throughout the journey
  3. Bedding: Providing a comfortable and familiar space for your furry friend to rest
  4. Toys: Offering entertainment and comfort during downtime
  5. Pre-portioned meals: Convenient and mess-free dining options
  6. Towels: Ready to handle wet and dirty situations
  7. Poo bags: For the obvious…
  8. VW seat covers: Shielding your car’s interior from the mess that comes with camping

Pet-friendly environment

As covered, it’s important to ensure your dog is restrained properly in the car. A car harness or a dog guard offers security while allowing them to enjoy the ride without restrictions. Place one of their favourite toys or blankets in the car, creating a sense of familiarity and home.


Just as you need breaks, your dog does too. Stop along the way to give you both the chance to stretch your legs, let them do their business and enjoy the fresh air.

These breaks make the entire journey more enjoyable, and the stops for air help relieve any travel sickness your pup might have experienced along the way.

Pet-proof your campsite

Designate a dog-friendly space that provides shade and comfort, a place where your dog can relax and unwind after the day’s adventures.

Finding shaded areas is incredibly important when you’re travelling in the summer, where the warm weather can potentially be dangerous for your dog – even if they do enjoy basking in the sunshine.

Ensure your dog is tethered securely, ensuring they’ve got safe but still room to explore. Cushion their space with bedding and a few toys. Creating a cosy, comforting sleeping space is your best bet for preventing restless nights.

Tips for a safe driving experience with dogs

There’s a few important things to remember when driving with your dog, so you can keep your companion safe and sound. Here’s our top tips to keep in mind:


Failing to restrain your dog not only jeopardises their safety, but it could also result in a hefty fine up to £5,000! Use a car harness, guard or cage to prevent mishaps.


Crack a window open to allow fresh air to circulate and help maintain a comfortable temperature. Proper air flow goes a long way in preventing your dog from feeling anxious or overheated during the ride.


Never leave your dog unattended in a hot car. Heatstroke is one of the most common and potentially fatal risks for dogs in such situations. Even on moderately warm days, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly rise to dangerous levels.

Hanging out

While cute, letting your four-legged friend hang their head out of the window is incredibly dangerous. What’s more, this behaviour could also signal to the police that your dog is not properly restrained.

In case of emergency…

In case of any unforeseen situations, it’s essential to be prepared.

  • Stay calm: Dogs are remarkably attuned to their owner’s emotions. In times of stress or emergencies, your dog looks to you for reassurance. Try to maintain a composed demeanour to keep your dog as calm as possible.
  • Seek veterinary attention: If your dog displays signs of illness, discomfort, or extreme distress, don’t hesitate to seek veterinary attention. Prompt medical care can make a significant difference in the outcome of any health-related situation.
  • Contact roadside assistance: If your VW encounters issues during your adventure, reach out to roadside assistance for help.

Being proactive and having a plan in place will contribute to a smooth and stress-free journey for you both!

Hit the road with confidence

From selecting the perfect vehicle to packing essential accessories, we’ve got you covered for a seamless journey.

And remember, if your VW needs servicing or maintenance before your big drive, Vasstech is here to ensure you’re road trip ready. Safe travels!

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