One of the best parts of owning an RV is that we can take our pet boxer dog, Harley, with us. In fact, in the last two years Harley’s RV travels have covered 15 states, plus stops in Mexico and Canada. And he’s certainly not done yet!
Our fifth wheel trailer has become a home on wheels for Harley, just like it has for us. And along the way, we’ve learned a few tricks to making our travels happy ones for all of us.
Managing Pet Anxiety
Even although we provided his dog bed, toys, and familiar food bowl, initially Harley was a bit nervous in the RV. As rigs are often parked quite closely together at a campground, we often hear conversations, noises, etc. of our neighbors coming and going – something he was not used to in his home environment. We still have to work with him to stop barking and growling when fellow campers cross into what he considers “his” territory, but his anxiety is beginning to subside.
He still gets quite nervous when we start packing up the RV to move on to another destination. We solved that problem early on… we just put him in the truck while we go through the process of hooking up the trailer, cleaning up, dumping, etc. He’s so happy just to sit (naturally in the front seat!) and watch what’s going on, definitely reassured that he won’t be left behind. Another bonus: we don’t have to worry about his whereabouts while we’re focusing on our chores associated with moving out.
Related blog: Traveling with Pets in Your RV: Things to Consider
All the parks we’ve been to have very strict leash laws – understandably so. We keep Harley on a leash on his walks in the parks, but we did purchase a longer cable which we use to tie him up if we’re all sitting outside the rig. We also got him his own folding mesh dog bed, so he has a comfortable place to nap outside and still be with us. And we carry lots of baggies – need I say more?
Activities with Dogs
When we’re on the road, many of our activities are planned around Harley and where we can take him. More and more places are becoming pet friendly, but dogs are still prohibited from many of the trails in most National Parks. Many of the state and local parks where we’ve hiked have been much more accommodating. If we are going out to a restaurant, we try to find one that allows pets, which usually means we sit outside. If he’s not welcome at a store or attraction, we take turns remaining outside with him. Bottom line – we try not to leave him in the truck for extended periods of time.
If we are going to a destination or event that is not appropriate for dogs, we will leave him in the trailer, but only if we can be assured he has plenty of water and if necessary air conditioning which of course requires functioning electric hookups. He’s secure in his home with lots of familiar smells, and of course a big bed all to himself.
Health & Safety
We keep his vaccinations current and he wears a dog tag with our cell phone numbers on it rather than the home number, so if he should get lost we can be reached wherever we may be. (Thank goodness this hasn’t happened yet!) We travel with an international certificate of good health which we understood he would need to cross into Mexico and/or Canada. So far, we’ve only been asked for that paperwork once – by US authorities when we returned from Canada.
Harley’s joy of RV travel is most clearly exhibited when we arrive at a destination. He leaps out of the truck and bounds into the fifth wheel, as if to say “I’m home!” And his companionship on our adventures has made them so much more enjoyable.
For us, RV travel and our pet do mix, and we all love every minute.
What’s been your experience with RV travel and pets? Let us know in the comments.
About the Author: A familiar name to many RVers, Sue Bray has worked in the RV industry for 35+ years. Over the summers, Sue, her husband Mel, and their boxer Harley take off to tour the country in their 31’ fifth wheel, with no exact plans except to have an adventure. She chronicles their travels as well as lessons learned along the way in an ongoing blog series at RV Repair Club called On the Road with Sue.