Seeing new places through the eyes of our pets is one of the greatest rewards of RV travel. Our homes on wheels enable them to join us on our adventures, however teaching pets to actually enjoy those travels can sometimes require work. The good news is that with a little effort, most dogs and cats can adapt to the RVing lifestyle by following these three tips for a pet-friendly RV adventure.
Make the RV Their Home Too
When you travel without your favorite pillow, don’t you feel just a little lost at night? Our cats and dogs also feel the same way when they go places without their familiar stuff. Animals rely so much more on their sense of smell than we do so when they go to places that lack odors from their most familiar objects, the world gets confusing. To help your pet adapt to your home on wheels:
- Don’t leave home without their favorite bedding, toys and even a rug if you can work it in.
- Spend quality time together inside the RV before you ever leave the driveway.
- Create a happy environment and let them know that it’s where they’ll find their favorite treats.
- Practice leaving your dog alone inside the RV. Just as you did when your pooch was a puppy, build up his confidence when being left alone. If your dog is crate trained, use it. If not, consider using a baby gate to keep your dog confined to a small interior area.
Keep the Routine
As humans, we love the refreshing routine change that RV vacations bring into our life, but our pets can become confused by it. You can minimize their mental chaos by sticking to daily routines while traveling.
- Sleeping in is nice, but your pets will thank you when you awake as close to your usual hour as possible.
- Keep morning rituals the same: walk, potty, eat breakfast.
- Stick to their usual dinner hour.
- Take your dog on that last potty walk of the day at the usual bedtime.
When traveling cross-country and switching time zones, sticking to pet care routines is even more important. In his blog post about helping pets adjust to annual time changes, Dr. Ernie Ward says “For most pets, these changes are abrupt, unexpected, and challenging. They may ponder, ‘Why am I eating now? Why do I have to get up so early?’”
Wherever you go, campgrounds will expect your dog to be on a leash at all times. If your dog isn’t used to eliminating on-leash, you’ll need to train him how to do so long before your departure date.
Nobody expects to get sick or injured while traveling, but things happen. Here’s how to be prepared for any pet-related emergency:
- Always travel with a digital or paper copy of your pet’s most important medical records, including vaccination history, contact information for your vet clinic, etc.
- Carry a Pet First Aid Kit, but don’t rely on ones made for humans. “You need to be aware that many over-the-counter medications (such as Ibuprofen) that are safe for humans to use can be very toxic to animals,” says adventure traveler TC Wait in her article about building a first aid kit for pets. “Additionally, a human-sized band-aid isn’t going to be very helpful for an injury on your Chow-chow,” she says. Wait advises asking your veterinarian to help you build a good kit. “Your vet knows the specific needs that your dog has, and can help you find items to include in your kit specifically for your dog, and the activity you are planning.”
- If your dog or cat shows anxiety on the road, a variety of anti-anxiety pet care products are available at holistic-minded pet supply stores. From the “Thunder Cap” that keeps my dog calm in stressful situations to the “Storm Defender” jacket that alleviates storm anxiety for many pets, an online search for “anti-anxiety remedies for pets” reveals dozens of potential tools.
More campgrounds than ever are laying out the welcome mat for pets and now we never have to leave them behind. Creating a safe, nurturing environment inside our homes on wheels ensures that everyone stays happy no matter where the road takes us.
About the Author:
Rene Agredano, a Coach-Net member since 2015, is a self-employed full-time RVer who enjoys writing, jewelry design and animal advocacy. Her adventures with a three-legged dog and husband Jim are chronicled at LiveWorkDream.com
David P. ~ “I had to use the Coach-Net system for a coach jack problem. Pat helped me resolved the issue. He was very helpful and I was able to continue my journey. This was the first time I had to use it and it worked out great. When time to renew, I most definitely will. Thanks again for the help.”
Carolyn Lsyne said:
We have two large dogs we want to start travelling with us. The new travel trailer is plenty big enough to accommodate them comfortably. Our problem is getting them into the trailer. We put carpet on and under the steps and have even bought a ramp. We’ve tried their favorite treats and toys to entice them. They just won’t go into the trailer. We have to pick them up. They are really large and heavy! Any ideas would appreciated. We’ve been trying a solid month now.
LiveWorkDream (@LiveWorkDream) said:
Hi Carolyn, that is a great question and it’s one that many dog parents of larger breeds will eventually encounter as their dog becomes older and needs more help with stairs.
Have you considered a dog harness like the Ruffwear Webmaster? I use it every day for our Wyatt, an 80lb Shepherd who is missing one leg. The harness has a handle on top and it allows me (I’m 5’3″ so not that big) to assist him up and out of our raised fifth wheel and our pickup. It’s awesome.
And don’t feel badly that your dogs won’t use the ramp: MANY dogs won’t unless they’ve been trained as puppies. Dogs have poor depth perception and are terrified of being on ramps because they can’t tell how far they will fall, if they do. It’s called “the visual cliff” and many animals like cows are also affected.
What lucky dogs you have to accompany you on the road!
This article is definitely dog oriented. We would like to hear from cat families who travel. Our dog is easy. The Siamese are super active, and like little kids, need things to keep busy with. Ours are over 15 yrs old and still climb and mouse. The dog sleeps until the door opens.
What kind of litter/ litter box arrangement works.
We have a Shih Tzu rescue, great little guy ,except he wants to get out the door with us all the time .My wife has been bitten on The step by the door her trying to stop him.We have had Sammy a yr .Here is what we do . I walk Sam out side while my wife puts a treat down for him and she proceeds to the car.I walk Sam back to the RV steps, unhook him and I hold his harness open the door and he runs in I LOCK the door behind. Sam proceeds to the dash watches us leave. , we have circled back around and see he has gotten down, and he does.
When we come home we noticed he doesn’t eat the treat ,or drink any water so we know not to be gone any longer than 5 hrs .
We tryed a crate he barked continuously.
We tryed Anxiety medication doesn’t slow him down. OPEN TO ANY SUGGESTIONS.