Hitting the road with your dog can make for a dream trip. But before you embark on your adventure, you’ll need to do some preparation to ensure your pet stays safe, healthy, and happy. Remember that you may be far away from your home base and vet, so preparation is key.
Whether you’re heading out for the weekend or planning a full-time nomadic lifestyle on wheels, here are some quick tips on how to prepare for RV travel with a dog – or any other pet.
- Get a Pre-Travel Checkup
- Buy a Crash-Tested Harness or Crate
- Brush Up on Basic Training Cues
- Install a Temperature Management System
- Pack an Emergency Kit
Get a Pre-Travel Checkup
Before embarking on any RV travel with a dog, be sure to take them for a thorough veterinary check-up.
Ensure all vaccinations are up to date and their flea/tick prevention program is on track. Depending on where you’re traveling, you may also need to get a copy of your dog’s health certificate and proof that they are vaccinated against rabies. This will be vital if you need to board your furry friend during extreme temperatures.
If your dog has any ongoing health problems, ask your vet about the best ways to manage these conditions while traveling and stock up on any medications/prescriptions required. For example, dogs with arthritis might benefit from a ramp to help them get in and out of the RV without hurting their joints.
Pro Tip: This is also a great time to make sure your dog’s ID tag and microchip both have your current contact details.
Buy a Crash-Tested Harness or Crate
On driving days, you should make sure your dog is safely secured. Not only is this crucial to protect them in the event of an accident or sudden stop, but properly securing your dog while driving is also a legal requirement in some states.
The best way to do this is by using a crash-tested harness or crate. Crash-tested harnesses are similar to standard harnesses but are built to withstand the large forces that can be generated during an accident. Similarly, crash-tested crates have reinforced bars to protect your pet.
Never use a regular harness or crate in your RV when driving. It’s frightening how little protection these provide during a crash!
Of course, there’s no guarantee that your dog will walk away from an accident unharmed, even if you get a crash-tested harness. But the chances of injury are much lessened with the proper equipment.
Brush Up on Basic Training Cues
It’s important that your dog is well-trained before hitting the road in your RV. Your pet is going to experience a variety of new situations, so you need to be confident they’ll behave when surrounded by exciting distractions – especially if they’re out of their normal environment.
Most importantly, your dog must have excellent recall so you can call them away from potential dangers. They should also know the cues for “sit”, “stay” and “leave it.”
If you need to work on training before your trip, make sure you use positive reinforcement techniques to get the best results. This means using lots of praise and treats to reward your dog when they get things right, and avoiding punishing your dog when they don’t do what you want.
If you find training difficult, consider taking your dog to a local training class before traveling.
Install a Temperature Management System
One of the most serious threats to dogs left alone in RVs is overheating caused by power outages and extreme temperatures. Of course, it’s best never to leave your dog alone, but if you live in your RV full-time, you’ll inevitably need to leave them by themselves at some point.
To keep your pooch safe, you should install a temperature management system in your RV that notifies your smartphone if the temperature inside rises beyond a certain level. This will alert you if the AC has failed or switched off due to a power cut.
Some motorhomes have auto-start functions that are triggered by power outages. These should start up a generator if the power has been off for longer than a few minutes. This is useful as a backup, but I recommend having a temperature management system anyway, just in case. Companies like Waggle are a great place to start your research.
It’s also a good idea to install a smartphone-connected Wi-Fi camera so you can keep an eye on your dog for signs of distress while you’re away. If this is a new environment for your pet, understand that this transition could be very stressful for them.
Pro Tip: Always pre-check the weather when preparing to travel with your dog.
Pack an Emergency Kit
Pack a dog first aid kit and keep this in a safe place in your RV. Having the essentials will ensure you’re able to deal with any minor injuries your pooch may suffer on their adventures. This is a vital step if you know that you’ll be traveling off the beaten path where veterinary care may be limited.
If you’re planning to visit a particular location for a few days, research local veterinary clinics and emergency animal hospitals, making a note of their addresses and contact numbers. I recommend saving this information on your cell phone, as well as printing it out so you have a backup copy if needed.
Alongside medical kits, it’s also a good idea to bring copies of posters with photos of your dog in case they get lost. Should you lose your dog in an unfamiliar area, you can quickly hand out copies to businesses and put them up locally to increase the chances you’ll be reunited.
RVing with your dog can be an exciting and wholesome experience. RV Travel just wouldn’t be the same without your best friend by your side, but as a responsible pet parent, you must make sure that your dog stays safe and healthy during your adventures.
I hope this article has helped you to prepare for your next RV adventure with your dog. By following these tips, you can hit the road with your pet and look forward to making memories together!
Richard is the head editor of The Dog Clinic. His goal is to promote positive training methods and a deeper understanding of canine behavior. When he’s not working on the website, he loves hiking the local countryside with his two dogs.
Harvest Hosts does not endorse any affiliate links, if any, provided in the above article.In order for our hosts to continue letting dogs join you in your stays, please clean up after your pet!
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