Living the RV life can be a great vacation or a full time lifestyle! One of the main reasons people choose to travel by RV is so that they can bring their pets. According to a 2016 survey done by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association; 61 percent of RV owners bring their pets along for trips and of that, 93 percent of them bring their pup! Whether you own or are renting, RV-ing with your four-legged friend can be easy, if you are prepared. Here is a list of ways to get ready for your next trip.
Choosing the Right Vehicle
If you don’t already own one or haven't rented an RV before, make sure to choose one that is dog friendly. Here are some things to keep an eye on when shopping for an RV:
- No Carpet Flooring: You are planning to live with your dog on the road. It doesn’t matter if it is long term or temporary - things can get messy. Having an RV with little to no carpet will make it easier to clean up after your pup.
- Interior Decorations: Look at the fabric used for the seating and sleeping areas. Will it show your dog’s fur? Is it easy to wipe clean? Can the fabric be removed like a slipcover to machine wash? Your dog is going to be making the same messes he makes in your car AND your house, so be prepared.
- Easy Access: When picking out an RV, think about whether your dog can easily get in and out. If you have a large pup, is the entrance big enough to fit him or her? This also goes if you have an elderly dog that might need more space when entering. If you use steps or a ramp for your dog to get into the car, will they also work for the RV? Keep note of how many steps are leading to the RV, because if you must carry your dog up ten steps each day it could be too much.
- Windows: Choose an RV without floor to ceiling windows. While these may look great, they won’t look as good if your dog breaks through them. Distractions like squirrels or rabbits can taunt your dog into chasing after them, even with the blinds shut.
- Space: Is there space even when the RV sides are in? Is there a comfortable space for your dog to sleep while driving? Is there enough room for your dog to walk back and forth? When driving, where do you anticipate your dog will want to be – up next to the bucket seats or in the back snoozing? Can you block off your dog from accessing the driver’s seat?
If you are thinking of renting an RV, here is a list of some pet-friendly RV rentals.
Make a Packing List
There is nothing worse than hitting the road only to realize that you’ve forgotten something important. Here is a list to make sure nothing is left behind:
- Food and Water Dog Bowls: Using dog travel bowls that collapse may be a good idea while on the road and with limited space. They can be taken out when needed and stored in small spaces when they are not. While you are driving, use the Splash Free Wander Dog Water Bowl, which is shaped to prevent splashing and spilling when the road turns rough or bumpy.
- Toys: A bored dog can also mean a destructive dog. Be sure to pack along some toys to keep your dog occupied during your trip. Using your pup’s favorite toy can also help treat RV anxiety, as its familiarity will put your dog at ease.
- Identification Tags and Microchips: An unfortunate reality of traveling with pets is that if they get out or run away, they will have a harder time finding their way back home. Make sure their ID tags have your contact information so when someone finds your pup, you will be the first to know. It is a good idea to have your dog microchipped as well.
- Leash: Many places that you will likely stop at to stretch your legs or rest, require dogs to be on a leash always. Most RV parks and campgrounds do too. You may find in the campsite that a hands-free leash is handy so you can have hands free to fish, grill, or play cards!
- Crash Tested Harness: Your dog should always be buckled up while traveling in a motor vehicle. While your RV may seem like home, it’s also a moving vehicle, so securing your dog with a crash-tested dog harness will keep you, your pup and everyone else on the road safe.
- First Aid Kit: While on adventures, accidents can happen which is why it’s a good idea to have a first aid kit specialized for your pup. Your first aid kit should include instructions on what to do if your dog is choking, eats something poisonous or has lacerations.
- Zipline: Most campgrounds require dogs to be leashed at all times.Buy or create your own zip-line that will allow your pups to be securely tied up, while still being able to roam about your campsite and have fun too. Ziplines are safer than tying your dog to a picnic table or tree as they won’t accidentally choke themselves or get tangled up.
- Outdoor Dog Bed: Be sure to bring an outdoor dog bed, one that has a waterproof bottom so you dog has somewhere to sleep and lounge in your campsite.
Getting Your Dog Used to Living the RV Life
Before even beginning your adventure, bring your dog(s) into the RV so they can get used to it. For some pups, they may need some treats and coaxing to get into the intimidating mobile home. Once in, show your dog his sleeping and lounging space. Do this a few times until they are truly comfortable.
The RV will seem like a home to your dogs, so understandably, it can be alarming when your home begins moving and making strange noises. Remember, just because your dog loves car rides doesn’t mean he/she will love the RV at first. To help ease the panic your dog may be feeling, be sure to bring some comfort items like their favorite toys and treats. It is also helpful to tire your dogs out at first before going on the road. The more tired your pup is, the more at ease they will be. Do this the first couple of times until your dog is comfortable being in the moving RV.
Successful Traveling Tips
For the past two years, Joe and Kait Russo have been RVing permanently with their Husky, Leo after quitting their jobs back in 2015 and filming it to share their adventures. Here are some tips they offer to future RV-ers on how to successfully RV with a dog.
- Map out your route and identify pet-friendly places to visit: It’s no fun to bring your dog along if they can’t go and do anything with you. Using sites like BringFido.com and Gopetfriendly.com, you can find pet friendly RV parks, campsites, rest stops and even restaurants!
- Avoid Preventable Accidents: On travel days, always take your dog(s) on long walks before hitting the road.
- Take advantage of rest areas: There’s not that much space to move around in the RV and not only will this allow for bathroom breaks but also a break to enjoy the fresh air and get in some play and movement.
- Leave water in a dog bowl even while moving: They suggest only filling it halfway so it doesn’t spill, but if you can also use the Splash-Free Wander Bowl which won’t spill even when filled all the way.
- Find a vet on the road: Ask family and friends who live in different states for recommendations on veterinarians they know of. This will allow you to always have a trustworthy vet for your pups. It is important to note that vets are licensed in the state that they practice. This can mean that getting prescriptions filled for your dog across state lines may be a little tricky.
Leaving Your Pup in the RV
While it is not recommended to leave your dog in the RV, it may be difficult to bring your dog with you in certain situations. If you must leave your pup, here are some tips on how to make the situation comfortable for them.
- Leave the AC on if it is hot outside (the same thing goes for heat if it’s cold outside). Like a car, your RV can heat up quickly, leaving your dog to overheat.
- Exercise your furry friend before you leave. Make sure to really tire your dog out, this will make it likely that your pup will fall asleep after you leave.
- Keep the blinds down, or the curtains shut. This will stop your dog from barking at every person who walks by your campsite. It will also keep the internal temperature more stable.
- Keep the television or radio on for background noise, which will prevent your dog from jumping at every sound they hear.
- You might want to invest in a device that measures the temperature in your RV and texts you if it gets too high. RV Pet Safety makes one and GopetFriendly.com also recommends a 3 device solution.
You have the RV and your four-legged co-pilot, but do you know where you are going? Check out some dog-friendly events, some of our favorite spots for dogs, and take a look at this pet travel safety video.
Kaitlyn Manktelow is a writer and videographer for Kurgo, a dog travel and outdoor products company. She enjoys filming, traveling, and singing way too loud with her rescue dog Samuel Jackson.