Tips, tricks and need-to-knows
For those already enjoying the RV lifestyle, there is nothing like the freedom and excitement of life on the road. And, for those thinking of giving it a try, what are you waiting for? You would be hard-pressed to find a friendlier community—or a better way to explore the country!
And, whether you are brand new to RVing or a seasoned veteran, one thing is for sure: The whole family comes along, which naturally includes your pet. But, there are a few things to know about traveling with your pet, especially if you are new to RVing—not that old pros can’t learn a few new tricks as well!
Cats make excellent traveling companions, too.
Traveling with Your Pet
First, not all pets travel well, which is something my wife and I discovered with our small rescue terrier mix, Barney. He becomes “Mr. Shivers” whenever we begin each journey, although we’ve found that letting him ride in his crate and near my wife keeps him feeling safe. So long as he has his blankets to curl up under, and the crate is close to Mom and Dad, everything is ju-u-ust fine—something that can work for your travel-nervous pooch as well, so long as they are crate trained. Or, you can try keeping your dog occupied with a new toy or chew stick—something that will also have them associating long drives with … a new toy! A new goody! YAY!
Barney feels secure when traveling in his crate with comforting blankets to burrow in. Most RV parks require that pets are on leash when not in the RV.
Pets can be susceptible to motion sickness too, and if yours is, try giving them some peppermint, fennel, dill, or catnip, all of which have soothing qualities for upset tummies. (Well, maybe skip the catnip for your feline friends, at least while you’re attempting to drive….) If your pet can’t consume the whole herb, try using tincture drops, or simply add to drinking water; and this is, of course, in addition to slowing down and driving carefully, which you should be doing, anyway.
A collapsible exercise pen is a nice option to give your companion room to stretch, or a tethering system also works.
Also, even though you may be living a schedule-free life of leisure on the road, your pet still needs a routine to keep them comfortable. Be sure to stop at rest areas for scheduled breaks and take the time for regular walks when on long drives. Even though you may be fine going extended miles with only occasional restroom breaks, dogs especially need regular stops not just to relieve themselves, but to exercise and get some all-important sniffing taken care of as well. This should be on the same schedule they are used to being on in their “regular” home.
Keeping your pet on leash whether at the park or at the rest stop prevents a skittish pet from running into traffic.
There will also be times when it is necessary to leave your dog alone in the RV, such as when food shopping or going on hikes in areas where pets aren’t allowed. For this, you need to ensure your dog is comfortable being left alone in what is likely an unfamiliar area surrounded by unfamiliar people. While Barney has always been a VERY good boy with this, we have also experienced folks who’ve left a barking dog home alone for the day—not fair to the pup, and not fun for those in earshot!
To help overcome separation anxiety, try acclimating your dog with longer and longer stints away from you until they are comfortable without you around. You can also toss a “Find it!” treat to your dog as you leave, which will get their mind off you vacating them, and you should always be sure and exercise them before leaving so that pent-up energy won’t become destructive bored behavior.
RVing is the best way we can think of to live a comfortable life while visiting exciting new places—something we would never consider doing without our “son” Barney along. In fact, not only is the RV community super friendly, supportive, and helpful to each other, they are also some of the most pet-friendly people around. It seems nearly everyone who RVs has a pet—almost as though having a furry friend is a prerequisite to the lifestyle!
And, so long as your pet travels well and is easily acclimated to new areas (hint: new areas also mean new things to sniff!), there is no reason to consider leaving them behind.
Besides, who would consider such a thing in the first place?
• Bring folder with medical history & vaccination record
• Microchip your pet and register the chip online
• Collar with ID and tags should be on your pet 24/7 when travelling
• Staying long? Know where the local urgent care vet is.
• Flea/tick prevention
• Have current photo of pet in case it gets lost