Background reading - Inland / outland post from Leon.http://www.canadavisa.com/canada-immigration-discussion-board/spousal-sponsorship-t46995.0.html;msg344291#msg344291
It is possible to visit while an app' is in process, there are risks.
Proving residency is not the only issue, you have to show that you will leave Canada when your visit is complete.
Traveling with "only the clothes on your back" can also raise flags, certainly if you get sent to secondary screening.
Your dogs are likely to say "moving" to the IO, getting refused is not going to help at all.
You may be better off visiting once in a while, instead of attempting to stay.
Inland is slower in many cases.
Insurance isn't mandatory, but IMO you would be crazy to travel and stay without it.
Medical treatment can be very expensive without medical cover.
You need to have a plan B - what will you do if you cannot move, or are refused entry?