I love to travel, but I also love my dog. Before I discovered RVing, these two facts were constantly at battle. I always had to find someone to watch my pup while I traveled and felt like I was constantly cutting trips short to get back to her.
RVing with pets is the best of both worlds. I get to travel often and have my furry companion with me at all times.
Of course, RVing also presents some challenges for both you and your pet. After almost two years of RVing, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for RVing with pets:
Keep Your Pets Healthy
Trust me, you do not want to pull up to a campground and discover that your dog is sick and you don’t have your pet’s health records.
Keep your dog and cat up to date on their shots and always carry proof. We like to keep our dogs’ immunization records and rabies certificate in the door of the motorhome, right next to our registration and insurance. It’s just that important.
Last year, ticks were out in full force. When RVing with pets, regularly check them for ticks, and make sure to give them a flea and tick prevention treatment before heading back to the campground.
The US Forest Service recommends carrying certain first-aid items for our furry friends:
- Booties (think toddler/baby socks) for protecting injured paws.
- Emergency space blanket for shock or cold.
- Flat-bladed tweezers and a small container of mineral oil for tick removal.
- Bandana for a makeshift muzzle.
- Multi-tool with needle-nose pliers for extracting splinters, thorns, etc.
It’s also a great idea to look up the name, phone number, and location of a nearby vet clinic. You can call ahead to your RV park or campground to see if they have that information available.
Basic Training For Dogs
Going camping is exciting. The fresh air, the fire-roasted hot dogs and the abundance of nature can really excite a person. Now imagine how your dog must feel with all their heightened senses.
The more training your dog has the better behaved they will be, meaning a less stressful RV vacation for all.
Now, don’t fret if your dog has never been to puppy boot camp. Basic commands should suffice for most camping situations:
You never know what you might find out on a nature walk. Scat, food droppings or roadkill aren’t something you want your dog to ingest—although they’re bound to disagree. Your dog should listen when you tell them to leave something alone. The better your dog is at listening to this command, the easier your camping trip will be.
Despite distractions like smells, children, and other dogs, your dog should always come to you when he is called.
Your dog must be comfortable on a leash. I’ve never been to a campground or RV park that didn’t require a pet to be on a leash at all times. If your dog is unfamiliar or rusty, I would recommend practicing before heading out on your RV trip.
Campground Etiquette For Pet Owners
As much as I love my dog and consider her my first kid, I know there are campers (and pets) out there that don’t see the appeal of my sweet pup. Be a considerate neighbor and follow a few simple etiquette rules.
Keep Your Pet on a Leash at All Times
Yes, this is important enough to mention twice in one article.
While your dog may be docile and very good at coming when called, it’s important to think about other dogs that may not be as friendly. Avoid a conflict (and breaking campground rules) and keep your dog leashed at camp.
Don’t Leave Your Pet Outside by Itself
To be honest, I made this mistake the very first day we went camping. Within just 20 minutes, I had the campground owner knocking on my door.
Although your pet may be the sweetest dog in the world, other campers may be afraid of dogs. Your dog may be like mine and think being on a lead outside the RV means she is on guard duty. No one wants to walk past your campsite and have your dog bark at them.
That isn’t to say your dog can never be outside. We carry a lead and stake with us and put it down in any camp that permits it. We love having our dog outside with us while we are cooking, playing or just soaking up the great weather.
If you have a relaxed cat, I’ve seen many people do this with their kitties. I’ve even seen them in a large kennel outside with their owners.
Pet-Proof Your RV
Whether you have a cat, dog, or other furry friends, it’s important to pet-proof the vehicle before your trip.
Place a piece of plexiglass on the bottom of the screen door if your dog is easily excitable. This will let you have the main door open and you won’t have to worry about your pup tearing the screen. This is also a great idea if you have a cat.
Bring along scratching posts for your cat. Chances are if you’re a cat owner, you already know why. You don’t want your sweet kitty tearing up the carpet, dinette, or window valances.
Use a gate to make some areas off-limits to your pet. Our dog was constantly trying to sit in the passenger seat of our motorhome. The thought of her nails and camp-dirty self all over my light-colored leather made me cringe. We made a gate and now the whole cab area is inaccessible to her.
Also, just like you don’t leave garbage on the ground outside for the animals to get to it, you need to contain your garbage inside your RV. I always put any garbage I have in a cabinet or cupboard so my dog isn’t tempted to go dumpster-diving when we are out of the house.
Remember, RVing with pets is supposed to be fun. Have fun by taking your pets to as many places as possible and letting them explore. They’ll be grateful for all the extra time they get to spend with you and are sure to love being on vacation as much as you do.