Part of what makes an RV trip special is sharing it with the ones you love. That’s why we’re all about family motorhomes. Unless you’re more of a “Mystery Machine” traveler, you know, with friends, which is cool, too.
You remember the Machine, right? Well, those meddling kids have something in common with you, and it’s not just ruining the dastardly plans of a villain dressed in a cheap Halloween costume. They traveled with their dog. And “Scooby Doo” apparently set a trend: More than half of all RVers bring a dog with them.
I know, I know, we’re leaving out cats. But let’s be honest, they’re not heartbroken about it. Not caring is kind of their style. So, we’re focusing on the pooches this time around.
Here are some things to remember when you take your next RV road trip with your dog. And remember, it’ll take more than a few Scooby snacks to make the trip go smoothly.
Start slow — Starting your dog off with a six-month trip across 27 states, including Missouri, is probably not a good idea. Spend the night in the RV with your pet, even if it’s at a local campground, then take a weekend trip, and then step it up from there, and it won’t be long before you can go RVing with them. You want your dog to think of the RV as a second home. Another way to do that is to…
Bring your pet’s favorite toys — Just like you, your dog probably has a favorite stuffed animal. Bring it, and the bed, and the tennis balls, yes, even the ones that are full of slobber and dirt and smell like you left out the cheese too long.
Bring the pet travel essentials — Toys are great, but you’ll also need food, a water bowl (collapsible ones are great), a brush, medications (for the dog, and for you), a leash and, yes, poop bags. Walk around the house and take note of all the things you have for your dog. It’s more than you think. Chewy.com is a great place to find these items, and more.
Buckle up, Buttercup — It’s tempting to let your dog wander around the RV, especially during long days on the road. But it’s dangerous for many reasons. If you crash, your family and your dog could be seriously hurt, if not worse. Your dog may distract the driver, especially when they want some attention, and have you ever met a dog that doesn’t want some attention? Plus, keeping your dog buckled will prevent her from bolting the RV when you open the doors to get a cheeseburger. If your dog’s aren’t used to a crate or kennel, you can buckle them in with a car seat belt harness. This is RV pet safety 101.
Be ready when they bolt — Dogs love cheeseburgers, too. So, no matter how well behaved they may be, they may try to escape when the opportunity strikes. New surroundings can make a dog nervous or excited, and they can, believe it or not, run faster than you. When they do run, or they simply get lost, you’ll be ready because you’ll already have chipped your dog, right? If not, well this is us nudging you. You’ll also want to expand their tag to include much of the information that you have on your driver’s license. There are companies that make tags look like a license.
Be ready for anything else — Have your vet recommend some other dog doctors in the areas where you’re visiting, or look for online reviews, and check the hours in case anything goes wrong on your trip.
Weather report — The weather is one of the biggest challenges on any RV vacation, and traveling with your dog can make it much worse. A thunderstorm may affect your pet travels, even if they are fine at home, so pull over if your dog starts freaking out. You can also bring a thunder shirt or distract your dogs with a tennis ball during a storm. Also, be wary of temperature extremes and don’t count on your RV to solve them. And definitely don’t leave your dog in a hot RV. You can also get a generator that starts automatically (as found on the 2019 Pace Arrow) to ensure the air conditioning still runs if the RV loses power. There are also temperature gauges that will alert your cell phone if it gets above a certain temperature.
Be wary of wildlife — Part of the point of an RV camping trip is to see wildlife beyond robins and squirrels, but your dog may simply see it as something to chase. Rangers get really mad at dogs that chase wildlife and owners that allow it. Angry rangers write tickets. Wildlife, such as moose, can kill your dog (or you!) if you try to stop them. If you do let your dog out during a wildlife watching trip, keep them on a short leash, and make sure their barking or growling doesn’t ruin the experience for others. Also check for ticks, fleas and other pests, and get the equipment to deal with them.
Keep your records on Rex — Bring vaccination records to your campground, as many ask to see the latest records of your dog. You may also want to bring proof of ownership and a couple printed photos in case your dog gets lost.
Get along, lil’ doggy — Walk your dog a few times a day, especially on long trips. Some campsites may have a dog park. Your dog deserves exercise just as much as you, so plan for extra time to get those dog walks in, and enjoy the new sights you see along the way—even the vending machines at a rest stop.
Double check the dog — Some national parks don’t allow dogs, and some campsites may not, either, or be under a bear watch after some recent sightings and may not want your dog around. Call ahead and ask about restrictions. You can find a good list of dog-friendly RV parks here.
Keep the bad behavior at bay — Make sure your dog doesn’t bark all night, as nothing will upset your camping neighbors more. Keep your dogs on a leash, as not everyone loves your dog as much as you. And always, always, always pick up after your dog. That means scoop the poop.
When you’re a dog owner, you want a pet-friendly RV, and Fleetwood is no exception to the rule. As long as they’re kept safe during and outside of transit, we encourage families to bring along the little ones.