Saturday, December 9, 2023


Help! Our dog hates RVing!

Panicked RVers recently posted this message on Facebook: “Help! Our dog hates RVing! We don’t want to give it up (RVing OR the dog). What can we do?”

When plans collide

We all enjoy’s daily “Readers’ Pet of the Day” pictures. There are cute little dogs standing at the Class A driver’s seat, eager to get on the road, large pups all stretched out and relaxing on an RV sofa, and enthusiastic doggos happily peeking out from inside the RV’s screen door. No matter what breed or size, there are many, many dogs that simply love RVing. There are also many happy dog owners who love taking their dogs along on their RV adventures, too.

And then, there’s Kate. She’s the gal who posted her pet problem on Facebook. Kate and her husband have a dilemma. They love RVing and they love their dog, Champ. The trouble is that Champ doesn’t love RVing. Boarding Champ is not an option for Kate. Besides the prohibitive cost, Champ doesn’t do well when boarded. The family used to hire a house/dog sitter when they traveled, but their trusted sitter graduated from college and moved away. Now Kate can’t find anyone willing to take the job.

Thank goodness for kind RVers and helpful Facebook folks! They all offered advice and suggestions for Kate to try. Here are just a few helpful tips that were mentioned. Everyone recommended trying these ideas a few times a week at first, and then more often leading up to your trip departure day.

Ease into it

Take your dog in and out of the rig several times. Offer a treat when the dog successfully enters, and again when he exits your RV. Going in and out will help the dog become familiar and confident with using the entry steps. Note: If your dog is older or has mobility issues you may want to purchase a doggie ramp like this one for RVs.

Spend time inside

Go into your parked RV and relax. It’s important to allow your pet to freely explore all of the areas in your RV. Don’t hover. Read a book or organize a cupboard instead. Soon your dog will realize that normal, mundane activities happen inside the RV, so he need not remain on “high alert,” or cower nervously at your feet.

Before your trip, stay overnight with your pet inside the RV. Use a white noise machine or noisy box fan to muffle nighttime noises and deter barking.

Normal routines

If you allow your doggo on your bed or sofa in your stix-n-brix home, let her lay beside you while you watch TV or read inside the RV. If your dog feels safest inside his crate, bring it inside the RV. Give frequent pets and snuggles or treats as a reward for calm behavior.

Use toys and treats

Take your pet’s favorite toys with you inside the RV. Play together inside the rig. Try hiding a familiar dog toy (or treats) in various places inside the RV (shower, closet, under dinette, etc.) and encourage your dog to find it. After playing for a while, return to your stix-n-brix home so that your pet knows that he’ll always return home.

Be patient

“Give it time,” offered one RVer. “There are new smells and sounds for your pup to discover inside your RV. As you travel, she’ll find even more noises and odors to explore. She may be nervous at first but give her time to adjust.

On the road

  • Adhere to your normal routine as much as possible (e.g., feeding times, exercise).
  • Take frequent walks and play with your dog often.
  • Never leave an anxious pup alone inside your camper.
  • Always follow RV campground rules regarding pets.
  • Actively work with your dog on his behavior (e.g., no barking/whining.)

Do you travel with a dog(s)? What additional advice do you have for Kate?

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Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.



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Leslie (@guest_257812)
1 month ago

Our Lab HATES our 5th wheel as well. After numerous attempts to get him into the 5th wheel, which included buying a ramp, modifying the ramp to different degrees, using treats as incentive etc, we finally got him in. He was so terrified that he just laid completely flat on the floor. Couldn’t coax him to move any further into the 5th wheel. When we finally gave in to leaving it was quite an adventure to get him turned around facing the door. When he finally got to the doorway, he bailed! Luckily my husband was at the side of the step when this 85 lb boy went flying out the door.

He is so very happy and excited to go on vacation at the Dog Sitters while we are on vacation. Win/Win

Irv (@guest_257789)
1 month ago

Our current dog wants to go home after one or two days. She seems to have a good time but lets us know it’s time to go home.

The dog before this one loved camping. When she saw that we were starting to pack, she’d lay in front of the door from the house to the garage so that we couldn’t leave without her. (We often started a day or two early.)

Lorelei (@guest_257783)
1 month ago

Do everything gradually. Sit there a while.
Go around the block, then give a treat. Make everything fun. All my dogs got over whatever. I don’t think the present one loves going, but he never complains. I’d never leave my dog with anyone. I had one who was afraid she was going to the vet, so she would barf. So, I took her to the vet a time or two just for attention and treats. They knew why we were there and went along. She never barfed in the car again. It helps to figure out the problem. At the destination, we go for fun walks. My dog came to me by airplane. He may have been afraid of being shuffled off again to someone else. He soon learned I’d never leave him, never.

Skip (@guest_257781)
1 month ago

As a dog trainer, I would recommend that they consult a local dog trainer who should look at the big picture (not the snapshot we received from Katy) and they can help get their fur baby to enjoy RVing more. The trainer might also recommend an animal behaviorist if it is not something that they can deal with.
There are a lot of reasons that Champ might not like RVing.

Bob (@guest_257769)
1 month ago

Another solution may be a Thundershirt. It’s used on dogs that are affected by loud noises, but it also has a calming affect for other scenarios.

ThunderShirt® is vet recommended and already used by MILLIONS of dogs and cats to feel calmer in stressful situations.
It may help to calm during fireworks, thunderstorms, travel, vet visits, separation anxiety and more! Like swaddling an infant, the ThunderShirt® patented design applies gentle, constant pressure to calm all types of anxiety, fear, and over-excitement issues. 

Neal Davis (@guest_257741)
1 month ago

Thank you, Gail! All suggestions are good and can be applied. Our previous dog strongly preferred DW’s parents’ 5th-wheel RV to our MH. We finally concluded it was because theirs never moved when he was in it and ours did. We always tried to maintain his routine and frequently walked him through the campground. Eventually his age — arthritis combined with cataracts — required me to carry him down the steps and place him on the ground every time he left the RV. Thankfully, he was never heavier than 55 pounds. 🙂

Jim Johnson (@guest_257637)
1 month ago

We don’t know anything about Champ other than he doesn’t like the RV. Does Champ like riding in a car? If not, the issue could be motion sickness. It could be claustrophobia. Or my guesses could be completely wrong. We have our 1st dog (our 2nd golden retriever) that does not like riding in anything that moves. He is fine with both our camper and larger travel trailer because they have never moved (with him inside). Our best guess is he had motion sickness as a puppy. He doesn’t want to be left behind, but at 4 yo we still have to lift him into the car. Sadly, you may need to sedate Champ.

scott (@guest_257892)
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Johnson

we have a sheltie who is a barfer…no car travel w/o getting sick but she loves camping. After speaking to the vet, she get 1/2 of a bonine tablet and travels in her carrier without issues and is ready to go when we get to the camp grounds

Tom (@guest_257623)
1 month ago

Your vet has calming medication that will help, or there are calming treats at your favorite pet store.

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