RV Travel With Pets – It just takes a little bit of planning

//RV Travel With Pets – It just takes a little bit of planning

RV Travel With Pets – It just takes a little bit of planning

  A Canine Family Member Rides Shotgun

RV travel with pets can be a challenge. However for us, it is a great benefit to be able to travel with our dogs. It just takes a little preparation. They are part of our family! The prospect of leaving the canine half of the family home during our summer vacation is not acceptable. One of the many reasons we bought our camper is so that we can RV travel with pets.

Not only does our RV make it convenient to travel with our pets, it makes it cost effective too. In my neighborhood, a good dog sitter’s fees can add up to $500 or more per week depending, of course, on how many dogs are being cared for. Sending them off to board at a kennel where they would spend the majority of their time in a crate is unthinkable. When it comes time to leave for our next adventure, we just load the dogs into the RV right along with the kids. This is our prescription for a worry free vacation with the “whole family.”

Doesn’t that sound ideal? Well, as wonderful as it sounds, RV travel with pets is not as effortless as one might hope. At times, I must say they can present more work than the children ever will.

Getting Your Pets on the Road

Traveling with your dogs will take a bit of planning. So I sit down and make a list of what each dog will need to travel safely and happily with us. For example, our nearly sixteen years old Australian Shepherd needs his bed, diapers, at least four waterproof washable bed pads, and disinfectant wipes for the occasional diaper leak or worse. He also needs a supply of his medications to last the entire summer.

On the other hand, our one year old miniature Australian Shepherd needs only enough toys and bones to keep her busy on those long rides. Her needs are pretty simple. And then there is the queen bee, the Maltipoo. She needs small breed food and her special bed, called a Lookout, which allows her majesty to sit safely and securely in the front seat.

Besides the obvious items like dog dishes, dog shampoo, poop bags, my favorite Bag It Trash It poop bag holder, monthly flea treatments, and extra leashes, I am also certain to take along their healthcare files. Last summer I forgot the files. A lesson learned as I certainly wished I had had them when the senior dog took sick in Idaho or when another one picked up a bacterial infection after swimming in a stream in Tennessee .

In addition to rechecking the canine packing list right before we leave, I give every dog a bath and apply flea medication. It really helps to keep the RV clean if every dog starts the journey clean and fresh. The only time my dogs have had fleas when traveling was when they picked them up at an RV park. Unfortunately that has happened more then once. I have since learned, that as clean and nice looking as an RV park may look, there is always the possibility of being exposed to fleas left behind by previously visiting pets.

Even though we travel in a motor home, space is limited and weight is always something we are mindful.  For example, instead of packing bulky dog towels, I pack a couple of fast drying microfiber dish towels, which I specifically designate for dog use. Instead of bringing different formulations of the same dry dog food, I bring only the dog food made for small breeds and feed that to all three dogs. In other words, only one bag of dog food.

Staying neat and organized is also important when you RV travel with pets. For example, traveling with open dog dishes can get messy. In order to keep the mess to a limit,  I purchased an OurPets brand Store-N-Feed which keeps the bowls from tipping over, provides extra storage space for their food and is height adjustable, which is necessary for my senior dog. Since every dog wants his own dish, I also also bought collapsible silicone dog bowls. I love these bowls. In addition to coming in really fun colors, I can adjust the height for each dog.  When not in use, they collapse for easy storage. They are also virtually weightless and fit perfectly in my day pack when we go hiking.

The last item I need to pack for the trip is some sort of dog enclosure that I can use at campgrounds where they are permitted. (It was a surprise to me that a “playpen” for my dogs is sometimes an unwelcome item.) Finding an enclosure that does the job has been one of my bigger challenges. The super light fence I used the first summer, made by BestPet, was the ideal fence for my senior dog and the small Maltipoo. However, this summer with the addition of the rambunctious miniature Australian Shepherd, I invested in a much larger and sturdier fence. Unfortunately, sturdier meant heavier and after a few times of setting it up, taking it down, and packing it away, I gave up on it.

Finally I tried a folding canvas enclosure from Jespet; that worked well for the shepherd but not for the Maltipoo. That little dog can jump! She decided she no longer likes being confined in a small space with another dog. I have finally resorted to long leads for the miniature shepherd and the Maltipoo, using the canvas playpen exclusively for my senior dog.  I  must say that I do miss my first fence. It may not be as sturdy as I would like, but it was easy to set up and store.

Two summers ago, traveling with only two dogs, we brought along a portable crate.  We found that having a crate available, although  rarely used, came in handy. This was especially so when it was too hot to leave the dogs in the RV and we wanted to visit a museum or other special place.  For example, while visiting the Meteor Crater in New Mexico, we were able to park our pups indoors in an air conditioned room while we spent the morning exploring the crater in 100 degree heat. Its extra large size easily accommodated both dogs. Of course not all attractions offer an air conditioned option for pets; but for those places that do, we were glad we had it.

This last summer, while traveling with all three dogs we simply had no room to pack dog crates. The children had to come to an understanding that because we chose to bring all the dogs along we were all going to have to make some sacrifices.  That meant we would not be able to go everywhere and do everything we may have liked. I expected this would be an issue at times; but happily it was not.  The kids had come to understand that if they could not go somewhere because of the dogs, there would always be something else we could do that included the dogs.

Once on the road I find it helpful to implement a routine with my animals.  Dogs like routines and it helps to follow their programs to keep them calm and comfortable. My routine consists of starting off every day with an extra long walk. Whenever it is possible, I want them down and napping at least to the next gas stop. I do not need the dogs moving around in the RV while I am driving. At gas stops, each child takes a dog and everybody gets a walk. In other words, exercise where ever possible. ( That include the kids as well!)

Exercise for my senior shepherd with his bad hips is a bit more complicated. To get him in and out the camper, I have to lift him. The first summer in the RV we used a pet ramp by PetGear, which really saved my back. Unfortunately, the dog’s failing health this last summer rendered the pet ramp useless and it was more efficient and easier for all just to carry him. Besides it was good for the quads!

Looking for the ideal place to walk your dog when your on the road is not always easy. Sometimes gas stops are just not the safest and best places. That’s when I turn to my smart phone app for finding dog parks. Dog Park Finder can usually find me a place to walk my dogs within twenty miles of my location. At times like this we just have to be patient. Our journeys inevitably take longer when traveling with the dogs.

The hardest part about keeping to a routine for the dogs is the challenge of the time zone changes as we travel across the country. It’s important for dogs to be fed at the same time every day.  At least one or two of the dogs will let me know if I am late feeding them. Unfortunately, I have not found a real solution to that problem other than to feed them one hour earlier or later. That means I may have to put up with some whining puppy dogs for an hour until they get used to it. For this contingency, I pack lots of cookies. Patient dogs always get their rewards.

The reason I am so firm about adjusting their schedule for dinner with the time change is because  dogs adjust their sleep pattern off their meal time. My dogs get up every morning at home at 6:30. This means that if I cannot get their “clocks” adjusted, I am going to be walking and feeding them at 4:30 or even 3:30 in the morning when we get out west. Believe me, walking the dogs in the dark, in bear country is no fun and can be very scary. I know. I have had to do it many a night. It happens that both my shepherds are vision impaired. The senior dog is totally blind. You may not be surprised that adjusting the internal clocks of blind dogs is not an easy task.

And Then There are Wild Animals

On many an early morning walk while out west, I have come across many different wild animals, fortunately, mostly from afar. Nevertheless, I keep a can of bear spray clipped to my dog leash just in case. The scariest incident I have had to date was last summer in Nebraska. Walking my senior dog in pitch dark with no moon at 4:30 in the morning, I heard a BIG grunt over my shoulder. Seized with panic, assuming I had come across a bear, I picked the dog up by his hind legs and threw him upside down and tail first into the RV, throwing myself on top of him before I got the door closed. I spent the next couple hours waiting for daylight (and picking up his panic produced poop).

It was only later that day, when I recounted my story to the park ranger, I learned that there are no bears in Nebraska. They were hunted out a long time ago. However, there was a very aggressive large buck in the area and that was probably my “bear.”

Did I mention not to forget to pack the bear spray? If you are headed out west there will no doubt be a time when you have to walk the dog in the dark. I recommend you always carry bear spray, the kind that comes in a holder that you can attach to your belt or leash to keep you safe.  Chances are you will never need it; but one should always be prepared.

Getting the dogs ready to travel every summer takes time and planning. Once on the road,  trying to put a routine into place for the dogs, getting them to settle down and acclimated to travel takes even more energy. However, once everyone and every dog gets used to traveling again, everything gets easier. Indeed every year’s trip so far has become easier as both the dogs and the kids become more experienced. There is no denying it. Bringing our dogs with us every summer is a lot of work. Every year we debate whether to bring them. In the end, every summer they come with us. They are part of the family and we would just not have it any other way.

A great benefit of traveling in our RV is that we can bring our dogs. They are part of our family! The prospect of leaving the canine half of the family home during our summer vacation is not acceptable.  Not only does our RV make it convenient to travel with our pets, it makes it cost effective too. In my neighborhood, a good dog sitter’s fees can add up to $500 or more per week depending, of course, on how many dogs are being cared for. Sending them off to board at a kennel where they would spend the majority of their time in a crate is unthinkable. When it comes time to leave for our next adventure, we just load the dogs into the RV right along with the kids. This is our prescription for a worry free vacation with the “whole family.”

Doesn’t that sound ideal? Well, as wonderful as it sounds,traveling with dogs is not as effortless as one might hope. At times, I must say they can present more work than the children ever will.

Traveling with your dogs will take a bit of planning. So I sit down and make a list of what each dog will need to travel safely and happily with us. For example, our nearly sixteen years old Australian Shepherd needs his bed, diapers, at least four waterproof washable bed pads, and disinfectant wipes for the occasional diaper leak or worse. He also needs a supply of his medications to last the entire summer. But my one year old miniature Australian Shepherd needs only enough toys and bones to keep her busy on those long rides. Her needs are pretty simple. And then there is the queen bee Maltipoo. She needs small breed food and her special bed,called a Lookout, which allows her majesty to sit safely and securely in the front seat.

Besides the obvious items like dog dishes, dog shampoo, poop bags, my favorite Bag It Trash It poop bag holder, monthly flea treatments, and extra leashes, I am also certain to take along their healthcare files. I forgot the files last summer. And I certainly wished I had had them when the senior dog got sick in Idaho and when the others somehow got a case of worms.

In addition to rechecking the canine packing list right before we leave, I give every dog a bath and apply flea medication. It really helps to keep the RV clean if every dog starts the journey clean and fresh. The only time my dogs have had fleas when traveling was when they picked them up at an RV park. As clean and nice looking as your RV park may look to you, there is always the possibility that they may be exposed to fleas left behind by previously visiting pets.

Even though we are traveling in a motor home, space is limited and weight is always something to be mindful of when traveling with a full house.  For example, instead of packing bulky dog towels, I pack a couple of fast drying microfiber dishtowels, which I specifically designate for dog use. Instead of bringing different formulations of dry dog food, I bring only the dog food made for small breeds and feed that to all three dogs. Traveling with open dog dishes can get messy, especially while driving. I purchased an OurPets brand Store-N-Feed which keeps the bowls from tipping over, provides extra storage space for their food and is height adjustable, which is necessary for my senior dog. As for the two other pups, I bought them collapsible silicone dog bowls. I love these bowls. In addition to coming in really fun colors, I can adjust the height for each dog.  When not in use, they collapse for easy storage. They are also virtually weightless and fit perfectly in my day pack when we go hiking.

The last item I need to pack for the trip is some sort of dog enclosure that I can use at campgrounds where they are permitted. (It was a surprise to me that a “playpen” for my dogs is sometimes an unwelcome item.) Finding an enclosure that does the job has been one of my bigger challenges every year.The super light fence I used the first summer, made by BestPet , was the ideal fence for my senior dog  and the small Maltipoo. However, this summer with the addition of the rambunctious miniature Australian Shepherd, I invested in a much larger and sturdier fence. Unfortunately, sturdier meant heavier and after a few times of setting it up, taking it down, and packing it away, I gave up on it. I then bought a folding canvas enclosure from Jespet;that worked well for the shepherd but not for the Maltipoo. That little dog can jump! She decided she no longer likes being confined in a small space with another dog. I finally resorted to long leads for the miniature shepherd and the Maltipoo. The canvas playpen was used exclusively by the senior dog.  I came to miss my first fence. It may not be as sturdy as I would like, but it was easy to set up and store. Sadly, I am doubtful my senior dog will make next year’s trip. So I plan to pack the super light fence for the other two dogs.

Two summers ago while traveling with only my senior shepherd and the Maltipoo, we also packed a portable crate, which we kept under the RV. We found that having a crate available, although it was rarely used, came in handy. This was especially so when it was too hot to leave the dogs in the RV and we wanted to visit a museum or other special place.  For example, while visiting Meteor Crater off Route 66 in New Mexico, we were able to park our pups indoors in an air conditioned room while we spent the morning exploring the crater in 100 degree heat. Its extra large size easily accommodated both dogs. Of course not all attractions offer an air conditioned option for pets; but for those places that do, the crate came in very handy.  The crate is also very useful on long road trip days when our sometimes overly active little Maltipoo needs a safe place to herself.

This last summer, while traveling with all three dogs we simply had no room to pack dog crates. The children had to come to an understanding that because we chose to bring all the dogs along we were all going to have to make some sacrifices.  That meant we would not be able to go everywhere and do everything we may have liked. I expected this would be an issue at times; but happily it was not.  The kids had come to understand that if they could not go somewhere because of the dogs, there would always be something else we could do that included the dogs.

Once we hit the road I implement my routine. Dogs like routines and it helps to follow their programs to keep them calm and comfortable. My routine consists of starting off every day with an extra long walk. Whenever it is possible, I want them down and napping at least to the next gas stop. I do not need the dogs moving around in the RV while I am driving. At gas stops, each child takes a dog and everybody gets a walk. That includes my senior shepherd who has bad hips. This requires me to lift him in and out of the RV. The first summer in the RV we used a pet ramp by PetGear,which really saved my back. Unfortunately the dog’s failing health this last summer rendered the pet ramp useless and it was more efficient and easier for all just to lift him in and out. Besides it was good for the quads!

Sometimes gas stops are not the ideal place to walk a dog.That’s when I turn to my smart phone app for finding dog parks. Dog Park Finder can usually find me a place to walk my dogs within twenty miles of my location.At times like this we just have to be patient. Our journeys inevitably take longer when traveling with the dogs.

The hardest part about keeping to a routine for the dogs is the challenge of the time zone changes as we travel across the country. It’s important for dogs to be fed at the same time every day.  At least one or two of the dogs will let me know if I am late feeding them. Unfortunately, I have not found a real solution to that problem other than to feed them one hour earlier or later. That means I may have to put up with some whining puppy dogs for an hour until they get used to it. For this contingency, I pack lots of cookies. Patient dogs always get their rewards.

The reason I am so firm about adjusting their schedule for dinner with the time change is that dogs adjust their sleep pattern off their dinner time. My dogs get up every morning at home at 6:30. This means that if I cannot get their “clocks “adjusted, I am going to be walking and feeding them at 4:30 or even 3:30 in the morning when we get out west. Believe me, walking the dogs in the dark in bear country is no fun and can be very scary. I know. I have had to do it many a night. It happens both my shepherds are vision impaired. The senior dog is totally blind. You may not be surprised that adjusting the internal clocks of blind dogs is not an easy task.

On my early morning walks while out west, I have come across many different wild animals, fortunately, almost always from afar. Nevertheless,I keep a can of bear spray clipped to my dog leash just in case. The scariest incident I have had to date was last summer in Nebraska. Walking my senior dog in pitch dark with no moon at 4:30 in the morning, I heard a BIG grunt over my shoulder. Seized with panic, assuming I had come across a bear, I picked the dog up by his hind legs and threw him upside down and tail first into the RV, throwing myself on top of him before I got the door closed. I spent the next couple hours waiting for day light (and picking up his panic produced poop).  It was only later that day, when I recounted my story to the park ranger, I learned that there are no bears in Nebraska.They were hunted out a long time ago. However, there was a very aggressive large buck in the area and that was probably my “bear.”

Did I mention not to forget to pack the bear spray? If you are headed out west there will no doubt be a time when you have to walk the dog in the dark. I recommend a bottle of bear spray, the kind that comes in a holder that you can attach to your belt or leash to keep you safe.  Chances are you will never need it; but one should always be prepared.

Getting the dogs ready to travel every summer takes as much,if not more, time then getting my kids ready. When all is said and done, I also find those first few days on the road to be exhausting. Getting organized on the road, putting a routine into place for the dogs and getting them to settle down and acclimated to travel takes energy. However, once everyone and every dog gets used to traveling again, everything gets easier. Indeed every trip so far has become easier as both the dogs and the kids become more experienced. There is no denying it. Bringing our dogs with us every summer is a lot of work.Every year we debate whether to bring them. In the end, every summer they come with us. They are part of the family and we would just not have it any other way.

By |2019-05-20T20:19:14+00:00December 6th, 2017|Pets and RVs|0 Comments

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