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 RVtravel.com’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.
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.
“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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