For those of you who already own an RV, you know that it gives you the best of both worlds: the freedom of the open road while traveling with the amenities of home. RV owners love the ability to explore the world on their own terms and there are many more people hopping on the RV train. Recreational Vehicle sales for 2010 are already at $559.1 million dollars, up an astonishing 79% from last year.
The summer season is the best time to pack up the family for a fun-filled road trip – and of course this includes your dog! Here are some ways to prepare for your pet travel adventure to ensure that your pooch enjoys the trip just as much as you do.
Pet Proof Your RV
Even if your dog’s puppy days are long gone, it’s important to make sure the RV is ready for your pet in order to keep the vehicle in good condition. In the event of an accident (which is possible in new surroundings), you may want to wrap table legs in plastic and have towels, rags, and cleaners on hand to resolve messes quickly. If your dog is normally allowed on the furniture, covering the RV furniture with a slip cover or fabric can help combat hair and dirt. A dust buster or portable vacuum cleaner is also a great idea to keep up with debris.
Be aware of various items that are in the open and in your dog’s path. Make sure extension cords cannot be chewed on and that cleaning supplies and insect repellents are out of reach. Even if your dog doesn’t engage in these behaviors at home, when the dog is first getting used to your motor home her behavior may be a bit unpredictable. Before the trip, bring your dog inside the RV multiple times to familiarize her with the space so it’s not a complete surprise that she’ll be spending an indefinite amount of time here.
Pet Travel Safety Restraints
The pet travel tips the for car apply to your RV as well. While the RV is moving, it’s necessary to have your dog restrained to avoid harm during a sudden stop or accident. Some RV goers prefer using a crate or kennel, while others choose to use a pet seat harness. Ultimately, use whichever method is the most conducive to your dog’s size and comfort level.
It’s also imperative to build in time for frequent stops along the way so that your dog can stretch his legs, get some exercise, and have the opportunity for potty breaks. If you plan on spending time away from the RV, use your judgment as to whether or not your furry friend should stay behind. Assess if your dog can handle the separation for a few hours. A good rule of thumb is that if your dog normally has separation issues, now is not the time to leave him alone in the RV.
If you know that your little one will be able to handle the time alone, make sure the AC is working properly so that it can run while you’re gone. A good bet is to buy a small, portable air conditioner to run as a backup to keep him cool and comfortable inside.
While you’re enjoying the luxuries of home on the road, there are things that you can bring to make your dog feel the same way. Here is a checklist of items to pack for your pooch:
– Favorite bed, blankets, and toys
– Treats and food that your dog is already used to eating
– Dishes for food and water
– Tick & flea repellent and any necessary medications
– First aid kit
– Your pet’s medical records and vet’s phone number
– Contact information for local vets in all your destinations in the event of an emergency
– Your dog’s leash (bring an extra one just in case)
Luckily, no matter what town you’re in you’ll most likely have access to a pet store if you forget something or realize that you need something along the way. Still, it’s best to bring what she’s already using to give her some sense of normalcy whenever possible.
Dog Friendly Campgrounds
Half the fun of having an RV is being able to join up with other RV-people at various pet friendly campgrounds and RV parks. Once you’ve mapped out where your family will be going, research different places where your dog will also be welcome so she can partake in the fun and be close to family and new friends.
A little bit of pre-planning and packing will go a long way in keeping your dog healthy and happy during your family’s RV trips. Before you know it, everyone (including your dog) will be referring to the RV as “Motor home, sweet motor home.”