RVing with dogs is not only possible but enjoyed by many of us full-timers. As we age, our dogs are our fur babies. We couldn’t leave home without them. Jim and I have two dogs, Rose and Daisy. They’re littermates and have never been apart from each other. When we decided to RV full-time, we never, for a moment, considered leaving Rose and Daisy behind. They’re family.
How Difficult is it to RV with Dogs?
When you adopt a dog, you know they will require a certain amount of care and attention. That doesn’t change when you RV with dogs. It does, however, require a little more planning. At our sticks-and-bricks house we had a fenced yard and a dog door so our animals could go in and out as they pleased. We didn’t have to walk them to use the bathroom, we just had to clean our backyard occasionally.
Dogs that RV with us almost always need to be kept on a leash. That means walking our dogs regularly, for exercise, fun and necessity. It means planning long road trips appropriately with lots of breaks for both driver and animals.
Dogs, Big and Small, Need Exercise
Our dogs are small and are perfectly happy sitting on our laps all day long. However, that isn’t good for us or them. We take regular walks for exercise, but also to allow them to investigate their new surroundings. Our dogs are dachshunds, hound dogs, so they need time to smell everything. When you’re RVing with dogs you have to take exercise into consideration. If I want to take a fast walk for my exercise, I leave the dogs with Jim.
We don’t have large dogs now, but we have in the past. Depending on their temperament, they may need a lot more exercise than our small guys. A lot of RV parks have dog parks where you can let your dog run loose, chase a ball or play with other dogs.
RVing Dog Etiquette
One of the first problems we encountered is the socialization of our dogs. They were used to being alone with us and were seldom around other people. Every time we walk our dogs people stop to pet them. Initially, this was a problem. Our dogs were not friendly towards new people. With a little time and practice they overcame this problem and now are happy for the attention.
Other dogs, however, can be a problem. Our dogs are very territorial and can be aggressive when encountering other dogs. We’re working on that problem and it’s getting better with training. I bring these problems to your attention because they were something we encountered when we started RVing with our dogs.
Leaving Dogs Alone in your RV
When you RV full-time, your RV is your home. We take our dogs with us almost everywhere but, let’s face it, they aren’t welcome everywhere. When we do leave them at home (our RV) we make sure that they have water, windows are open and there is a good airflow. RV’s heat up quickly, just like cars do. Even on a cool, sunny day the temperature in your RV can get dangerously high very quickly.
Some of the newer, fancier RV’s have a generator that will turn on automatically and, in turn, start your air conditioner, if the temperature gets too high. We don’t have that luxury, so we rely on a temperature alert system. It connects to our cell phones and warns us if the temperature gets too high. If that’s the case, we can return home and handle the problem.
How to Handle Barking Dogs in your RV
When we do leave our dogs alone, they like to bark. First, they cry like they’re dying because we left them. Then after a short while, they quiet down, but continue to bark at any sound, person or dog that walks by. When we’re boondocking that’s not a problem. In a campground or RV park, it can be.
To lessen the problem, we always leave the TV or radio on, or at the very least, a fan running. Something to provide some ambient noise to help block out other sounds. We close all the shades so they can’t look out and so it’s dark in the RV. When it’s dark it helps them settle down and sleep.
One other trick is to give them a rawhide bone to chew on. Because we have two dogs, they spend the whole day protecting their bone from the other dog. It keeps them occupied until we return.
Where are Dogs Allowed?
No, dogs are not allowed everywhere. All campgrounds and RV parks have different rules. Some don’t allow certain breeds of dog that they consider to be aggressive like pit bulls or Rottweilers. Most are dog friendly but have leash rules. National parks don’t allow dogs on trails or at various sites. Always check with the park before you visit.
Medical Issues while RVing
Dogs, like people, have medical issues that arise when you’re RVing. Our dog, Daisy, had back problems last winter when we were far from our regular vet. We were happy to find a Dr. G at Animal Clinic of Flour Bluff, that handled the problem. We found ours through Google reviews, but a lot of camping apps now have vets on their listings. It was part of our very strange first year of RVing.
If you’re going to be traveling out-of-state, it’s always a good idea to carry your vaccination records with you—just in case. You may never need them but if you do, they’ll be handy.
Be a Good Neighbor!
Finally, but probably most important, be a good neighbor. RVing with dogs means being responsible. Pick up after you dog. No one likes to visit a campsite only to find the prior camper failed to clean up after their dog. A lot of RV parks even provide bags for this purpose. No, it makes owning a dog a little less fun, but it’s part of the package.
Also, think twice about tying your dog outside. If you’re inside, it’s probably okay, but certainly never leave a dog tied when you go away.
Don’t Lose your Dogs!
Dogs who RV are always in changing environments. Their homing instinct is probably not going to be particularly good. Don’t lose your fur babies. Our dogs always wear collars with their name and our phone number embroidered on them.
Of course, your dog could lose its collar or any ID tag (Dachshunds don’t have collar-friendly necks) so it’s important to microchip your dog as well. This is a simple and inexpensive procedure your vet can do for you. The microchip is registered to you and if your dog is ever lost, any vet or animal shelter can scan for the chip and give you a call.
Protect your Dog from Predators
Whether you’re boondocking in a national forest or camped in a luxury RV park along the coast, predators can be a problem, especially with small dogs. A nice walk along the water could mean a quick lunch for a lurking alligator. Allowing your dogs to run off leash in the forest could mean dinner for a coyote and her pups.
Dogs running free in the wild also can be a problem when they chase a bear cub, or even harass a family of racoons. Keeping your dogs under control at all times means they’ll be safe from wild predators.
Yes, You Can RV with Dogs!
We couldn’t conceive of RVing without our dogs. It takes a little work but it’s so worth it. They are our children. Always keep your fur babies safe and happy. See you and your dogs on the road.