RVing with dogs — simple adjustments for a smooth journey.
When asked about my favorite part of full-time RVing, I never hesitate to answer, “I get to bring my dogs with me wherever I go!”
It’s something that made traveling pre-RV life difficult. I would have to find a friend or family member to watch my chihuahuas while I was away. That wasn’t always an easy task, as these small canines can be quite the handful. Now that my boyfriend and I have been full timing for almost one year, we relish the fact that our dogs can go everywhere we go!
There are a few things to take into consideration if you choose to RV with your dogs. You want to make sure your furry friends are comfortable, well cared for and safe because as any dog-lover will tell you, dogs are a part of the family!
Give Your Dog His Space
It’s just as important that your dogs feel as comfortable in your RV as you do. When we began our transition to full-time RVing, one of the first thoughts we had was, “Where will our pups sleep?” In our traditional home, they had comfortable crates that they would retreat to at night, but these containers were too big and bulky to fit into our 280-square-foot motorhome. In an inspired moment, we decided to raise our mattress platform a few inches and build 2 custom dog crates into the base of our bed. This has worked perfectly for us — we still have storage behind the crates, and the dogs love having their own special space.
If raising your bed isn’t an option, other areas can be transformed into a haven for your pooch with a little bit of creativity. Most RV’s have a dinette that converts to a bed or even accommodates a small crate on the floor beneath the table. Even a dog bed beside or at the foot of your bed will create a comfortable nook for your pup.
Making sure your dog has his own space in the RV will make his transition to this mobile lifestyle more pleasant and less stressful for you both.
Secure Fido While Driving
You bought an RV to hit the open road, but making sure your dog is safe while you’re driving is just as important as getting to that next destination. We recommend keeping your dog in a crate or bed while driving. Letting your dog wander while you’re on the road can be distracting and dangerous to both you and your pet. If your canine prefers your lap over a crate while driving, look into doggy seatbelt that can attach to their harness and your seatbelt to keep them safe and in place. One of our chihuahuas loves to sit on my lap while we drive, and being the doting mother I am, I always give in — but I always make sure she has her seatbelt on! Remember, this option is great for the passenger, but if you’re the driver, this is a big no-no!
Maintain Health and Well-Being on the Road
Before you hit the road, make sure your dog is up-to-date on all vaccinations, has his microchip implanted and tags secure, and has had a recent wellness exam from his vet. Prepare a box with a first aid kit for your dog, including any medications he needs and his health records. Before arriving at a new destination, always locate the nearest emergency vet. In the rare case that your pup needs medical attention, you won’t have to scramble to find care.
Take Care When Leaving Your Dog in Your RV
Sometimes, Fido can’t go everywhere with you. So, what do you do? The best option is to leave him in your air-conditioned or heated RV, but this isn’t always foolproof. If the power at your campground cuts off, your dog may be at risk of getting too hot or too cold in the RV. I recommended investing in a temperature alert device. I use one that also has a camera (bonus! I get to peek in on my pups while we’re away). This device sends an alert to my cell phone if the temperature drops below or goes above the parameters I’ve set. As long as we have Wi-Fi, this allows me to feel safe leaving them while we’re out and about. If you’re ever unsure about the temperature in your RV, always err on the side of caution and take your pup with you!
Enjoy the Great Outdoors With Your Dog
As you experience the US by RV, your pup will be right by your side. This means hikes through national parks; long trail runs and a splash in a spring or two! It’s important to be considerate of other explorers and always keep your dog on a leash. Your pup may be friendly, but not every dog will reciprocate the friendliness! Always have a stash of doggy bags on hand to pick up any business your dog leaves behind.
“Leave it just as you found it” rings true, not just for humans, but also for our doggie companions.
Spend Time Outside Your RV
When we’re not out exploring, we spend most of our time on our RV “porch.” We want our dogs to be able to enjoy this with us, so we have a couple of tricks that we use. If we are stationary for an extended period of time, we have a collapsible fence that we set up. This gives them the freedom to roam while we relax outside. If we’re on the go, we will forego the collapsible fence and instead use our dog leads. We will either tie one long rope from tree to tree and hook their leads to that or just hook their leads up to our chairs. Either way, we know if they see a bunny, we won’t be chasing our dogs halfway across the desert. They are secure and safe, but still able to enjoy the great outdoors with us.
One last tidbit: when making reservations to stay at an RV park or campground, always check pet restrictions in Good Sam’s RV Parks & Campgrounds listings.
We love the memories we’ve made while RVing with our dogs and by employing the tips above, we know that they are enjoying it, too. Dogs are like family and ensuring their safety and happiness on the road will make your memories together that much sweeter!