Every dog owner knows that as soon as you start your car or RV the dog knows and wants to be apart of the trip. In my experience, as soon as we start packing a cooler for a road trip or excursion our dog will go outside or sit in the RV so he won’t be left behind. He will sit in the passenger seat until we are done packing and ready to go. He knows we’re going on a trip and as a member of our family he needs to be with us.
Our black lab / golden retriever mix loves camping, the woods, the plains, all the outdoors, and above that he loves getting away from our same-old-same-old suburban fenced in backyard. And come to think of it, it’s important for my wife and I too to get away from the daily grind at least once a month when the weather is permitting. These small escapes are what keeps our sanity in check and our spirits high!
What Do I Need to do to Bring My Dog RVing?
But flashing back to when we first adopted our little puppy it took awhile for him to understand the purpose of our road trip vacations. He loves fresh air and the great outdoors, so staying in an RV while we drive for 8 hours was something that took getting used to.
When we’d hop into our first RV for our annual three week cross country road trip, our poor puppy couldn’t grasp why we’d always want to be in the vehicle or confined to a leash at different RV parks. He wanted to run around and smell the smells of the wild nature.
As we move closer to today, my wife and I started looking for ways to keep our annual trip and our dog happy both getting to and at our final destinations. The goal was, and still is, to ensure our dog is safe, comfortable, entertained, and to keep our annual trip going.
As we grew accustomed to stopping at more open and dog friendly stops, and as our puppy learned to adjust, he grew into the dog that won’t leave the RV if he sees us packing. He comes to enjoy both the RV excursion and the visits to various parks and RV parks throughout the Midwest.
So without further adieu, here are some of the most useful tips that my wife and I developed over the years to improve the RV experience (drive and destinations) for us and our dog.
Don’t use a crate or a kennel during the drive – use a child proof gate when necessary
After much whining, confusion, and maybe a puppy accident, we decided that using a kennel during our rides was one of the main stressors our dog was feeling. Instead we purchased a cheap baby gate that we set up so he can’t get into the driver cabin. This allows him to roam around the back and even sit on his favorite blanket, or even stick his head out the window to smells the smells. We know that there is an element of safety to be considered here and that animals are most likely to avoid injury if they are placed safely in a harness. So if you decide to take a more cautious approach, we certainly understand. But looking at what makes our dog happy we decided it was the right thing to do. This is something each owner should consider individually and make the decision right for them and their pet.
Make Frequent stops
During our three week annual excursion, we were never in a tremendous hurry after we got on the roads, so we’d do everyone a favor and allow for frequent stops for our dog to run around and take a “potty” break. In our case Sam gets restless after sitting for 4-5 hours and will start whining. So we plan accordingly to stop at rest areas with a nice lawn. We typically use google satellite view on rest areas when planning to make sure that there is enough space for him to walk around for a while.
At a glance this might seem obvious, but we found that it is what helps the most. By brining elements that our puppy is used to on long trips makes him feel more at home and less out of his safe zone. Therefore, our packing list always includes his favorite blanket, chew toys, and even a tug-o-war rope.
Pack a comfortable dog bed
For everyone’s best interest, we bring our puppy’s dog bed to sleep or otherwise lay down. While this won’t keep him from sticking his head out the window, it will provide a familiar setting for him to get comfortable and relax. Another bright idea would be to bring blankets to cover the RV furniture. This can keep the dog hair to a minimum and cleaning easy.
Pick a Dog Friendly RV Park
Do your homework up front when selecting an RV park. Check out the google map satellite view of any potential RV parks you are considering. This can give you an idea of the size of the RV spots, the common area, and any extra space for your dog to roam free. Most parks have a leash policy, so be sure to reach out to them or find out what that is in advanced.