The Truth about RV Living With Dogs
When I first started on this journey, I was warned “those dogs will wreck your trailer”. I thought “what a ridiculous statement”, as I looked at my 4 amazing dogs who had never before shown any aptitude for destroying anything, except maybe breaking some hearts. I realized I couldn’t just expect them to suddenly plunge into the RV lifestyle. Careful planning and preparation would indeed be necessary.
I eased all my dogs into thinking of the RV as home, wherever we happen to be. I always make sure I meet their mental and physical needs, every day. All day long. And this system seems to have worked. I can’t say without a little damage: Jolene (the lemon pointer) once went through an open window screen, but that was quick and easy to replace. I carry a window screen kit in my rv tool kit. Anyhow, nearly 2 years later, we are now in Alberta once again planning a trip across the Canadian prairies and beyond. Living with dogs in a small RV is entirely doable. You just need to prepare.
If you are planning to RV with your dog, whether full time or just on an occasional jaunt, this blog post is just for you. Here are 7 tips for successful RV living with dogs
Tip #1 for RV Living with dogs: Deal with behaviour issues before you go
If your dog is prone to having an anxiety attack when you are out of sight, living in an RV is not going to suddenly make him suddenly become more comfortable when you are gone. If you have a reactive dog who is either frightened in new situations, or who barks at, lunges at or bites people or other animals, life on wheels will not cause him to suddenly become chill. Reactive behaviour, aggression and separation anxiety always get worse with constant changes to the environment. Help your dog to get over them before you begin RV living.
Get Expert Help
If you aren’t an accredited dog behaviour expert, the easiest route will be through working with a CPDT-KA or KSA dog trainer or IAABC Dog behaviour consultant. For helpful dog training and behaviour tips, check out my dog training blog here: https://mydoggeek.com/category/dog-training-tips/
Tip #2 for RV Living With Dogs: Check ahead that your campground is dog friendly
Do some research online and if you are booking into a private campground, be sure to let your host know you are bringing a dog or three. They like to know these things. There are some great campgrounds for camping with dogs out there. Some even have amenities such as fenced dog parks, pools for dogs, and dog activities such as training and agility courses (ok, these ones are in the US, not in Canada yet)
Don’t get gouged:
Always be careful where you stay: We got gouged on an overnight stop in the South Okanagan when we were charged $20 for each of the 4 dogs. Some campgrounds charge a “head tax” on dogs.
Ask About Breed Bans
Some private campgrounds have breed specific bans, so If you are travelling with a bully breed, Rottweiller, Boxer, German Shepherd Dog, or other largish dog, ask before you reserve. There is nothing like getting to your campground, travel weary and anticipating a restful stay, only to find out they don’t want your dog there.
Provincial Parks or National Park Campgrounds are a good option
Provincial and National Parks campgrounds and Forest Recreation sites are a good choice for travellers with dogs, regardless of breed. There are no breed restrictions, and although dogs have to be on leash, there are usually a few choices of trails to walk on.
RV Living with Dogs Tip #3: Practice makes Perfect
Practice camping in your RV with your dog before you leave the driveway. If you practice living in the RV at home with your dog, he’ll regard it as home. I stayed in the Arfpod for months with for months in my dogs while my house was staged for sale. It gave the dogs a chance to learn that the routine was always going to be the same. After a short time (like me) the 4 dogs really prefered the cozy space of the the Arfpod to being in the house.
RV Living With Dogs Tip # 4: Keep a regular routine
Dogs love a routine. Schedule doesn’t really matter much, but the order and way you do things help a dog to trust the universe. If your dogs routine follows the order: Walk, training, breakfast, relaxing on the couch, play, train, cookies, relax, walk, eat dinner, cookies, relax, then he’ll be happiest if you keep the same basic routine wherever you go.
RV Living With Dogs Tip # 5: Exercise Creativity
You should always leash your dog on walks at campgrounds or in any environment that’s strange for your dog. Your dog will be distracted in a new environment and may not have the same reliability as he does at home. He may even be more reactive than usual to new dogs or people.
That being said, walks on leash force dogs to walk at an unnatural pace. Dogs off leash normally run or trot and only walk after they are good and tired. Leashed walks rarely provide enough exercise for a medium or large sized dog. Dogs need aerobic exercise and a chance to stretch their limbs in a way that builds and sustains muscles.
Luckily there are lots of ways to help your dog to get a good daily workout even when you are travelling. Here is a list of our favourite doggy workouts, that are easy to do anywhere.
Fetch: Many dogs love to play fetch. If you can’t find a safe, off leash area, your dog can play fetch on a long line. Here is a link to my video about training a retreive:
Dog Parkour: Dog parkour uses objects in the environment as agility obstacles for exercise, mental stimulation and a whole lot of fun! Find out more about dog parkour here: http://www.dogparkour.org
Yoga Ball Balancing: Use Yoga Ball training to help strengthen your dog’s core muscles while providing mental stimulation.
Acrobatic Tricks. Acrobatic tricks are a fun way for young dogs to burn off a lot of energy while building and maintaining fitness and coordination. Hoop jumps are an easy trick to teach most dogs. Here is a video about how to teach your dog to have fun jumping through a hoop.
Tip # 6 for Living With Dogs in an RV: Have a veterinarian handy
It’s really, really important to find out where the nearest veterinarian is, in case there is a veterinary emergency. Last week, young Annabelle the Elhew Pointer had a wrestling match with the neighbour’s barbed wire fence at 10 pm at night. We were glad to know the local veterinarian was Rocky Rapids Veterinary Services. Annabelle had multiple deep wounds on her left front leg and a gaping wound on her chest. I was glad to be able to have a vet meet us and perform emergency surgery at 10:30 pm. Annabelle is on the mend now, thanks to the speed at which were able to get services. Dealing with any emergency is always easier when we are prepared.
Tip #7 for Living With Dogs in An RV: Bring A Dyson Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
Considerable dog hair and bits of the flotsam and jetsam of camp life come into this little Rpod 180 every day. Having a Dyson cordless vacuum to clean it up is essential to not living up to my neck in dog hair and additional stuff. Even with their short coats, the pointers shed their weight in hair. I could probably make a whole other dog every week from it.
I’ll admit I was hesitant at first to buy one of these expensive little vacuum cleaners. They were far more expensive than anything else in the vacuum department at Bestbuy. But I am so glad to be able to thoroughly pick up messes quickly and easily without any hassle. After 3 years the Dyson is still undaunted by the massive amount of dog hair it inhales. As a bonus, the Dyson takes up little room and stores out of site on the wall in the bathroom.