Tips for RVing With Anxious Dogs
For dog lovers, one of the best things about having an RV is that you can include your best four-legged friend in your camping adventures. But there are more things to consider when camping with dogs than vaccinations, microchipping and pet first aid kits. Not all dogs are innately well-suited for RV life, even if you’re towing the most luxurious RV. Some may take to camping naturally like it’s the best thing you’ve ever done together. Our dogs, for example, see the camping gear come out and they’re genuinely excited. They’re also constantly underfoot while we’re packing to make sure we don’t leave without them!
Other dogs are less enthusiastic. The new sights, sounds, and smells they encounter on camping trips may seem scary, making them more nervous than excited. Whether you’ve got a pup that’s ready to go or one that’s not so sure about this whole camping thing, we’ve got some great tips to help ensure your travels are just as relaxing for your dog as they are for you.
Camping With Dogs
Nobody knows your dog like you do. They’re a part of your family, which is why you want to bring them along in your luxury RV. This knowledge of how they’ll react will be key to ensuring everyone is enjoying the trip.
If your buddy is a first time RVer, plan to take them on a short weekend or overnight trip close to home. If they seem especially anxious on your test run, you may want to do shorter trips until they get used to life in their luxurious home away from home. Investing time in these dog training experiences can go a long way to making sure this important family member is comfortable.
It’s important to remember that old dogs can learn new tricks, it may just take them a little while longer to master their RV skills than it would a younger dog.
Controlling the Barking
The reality is that dogs bark. They bark when they feel threatened, scared, or anxious. They bark when they see other dogs. They bark when they see people walking by. Some dogs inexplicably bark at leaves blowing in the wind. Whatever triggers your furry friend at home will cause them to bark when you’re traveling in your RV. The trick is to control the barking so that it doesn’t annoy the rest of the campground. If it does, even the most dog-friendly of campgrounds may ask you to take your noise machine to another establishment.
Once again, the key here is knowing your pet. You know what’s going to set them off, so do your best to avoid their triggers. First and foremost, if you have a highly sensitive dog, tent camping is probably not the best choice for you. In a luxury travel trailer, you have more control over their environment. If people, animals, and other things walking by are triggers, you can close the shades so they can’t see what’s going on. If noises cause fits of dog barking, you can turn on the radio, AC, or a fan to block some of the exterior noises.
There are triggers other than people, places, and things. When you’re camping with your pet, it’s important to make sure that they have access to water. They may be barking to draw your attention to their empty water bowl! If you’re in a pet friendly RV like the Bowlus Terra Firma or Endless Highways Edition, your pet’s dog food and water bowls are provided in a convenient drawer just for them. This makes it easy to keep their dishes topped off.
Beyond your stays in established campgrounds, it’s important to keep your dog’s barking under control while boondocking. All that noise may attract an unwanted visitor or two so for the safety of your best friend and the local wild inhabitants, you’ll want to help him behave like he would if you were camping in a state park or private campground.
Reducing Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety can be a real struggle for pets and their parents both at home and in the RV. You brought your dog camping so they could experience the trip with you, so ideally that means they’d go on every adventure you do. But there are places that simply aren’t pet friendly and you may need to leave your pup at the RV (be sure to check the campground rules first – some won’t allow you to leave your pet unattended). If you have an anxious dog, this could get tricky. A stressed out dog isn’t having any fun, but you can help ease that anxiety. We’ve found that consistency is the key.
One trick that works well is to kennel train your dog so they have a safe space to hang out while you’re away. Create a consistent routine of having them enter the kennel before you leave and remember not to set your kennel up near a window. While you might think they’d enjoy the view, it could trigger barking as the aforementioned people, dogs, and leafs come in and out of view.
If you’d prefer not to have to deal with a kennel in your luxury RV, you could restrict their access to a specific section of your travel trailer while you’re gone. This could be the bedroom or bathroom for example. Make sure they have their dog bed, so they have a comfy and familiar place to hang out. Lucky dogs that camp in a Bowlus get their own personalized bed, because we know he or she needs a luxurious place to rest and recharge for the next adventure.
The bottom line is that if you keep their boundaries consistent, they’ll feel safe, secure, and relaxed. Relaxed dogs are less likely to bark or worse, tear up the inside of your RV in a fit of anxiety.
A quick word about RVing with multiple pets. It’s important to know if and how they trigger each other. If they’re not good snuggle buddies, you may want to create separate spaces for them while you’re away.
Engage Their Brain
Another way to reduce both separation anxiety and barking is to make sure your dog isn’t bored while you’re away. Experienced campers who travel with their dogs always pack some favorite toys, a blanket, and plenty of treats to reward good behavior. Peanut butter or cheese filled Kongs are great (especially if they’re frozen). Dental chews also work well to keep your buddy busy – and their breath fresh!
Puzzle toys or a snuffle pad are fun for your dog too. Plus, if they’re busy looking for treats, they won’t have time to be anxious.
Safety When They’re Home Alone
Before you head out on any trip, it’s important to think about how you’ll keep your pet safe if you have to leave them alone in your RV. If you’re camping in a Bowlus, you can control your luxury RV’s HVAC system through an app on your phone. This remote temperature control system works like other aftermarket RV pet monitoring devices and gives you peace of mind and the power to ensure your pet is safe and comfortable until you return. If temperatures soar while you’re gone, you can turn up the air conditioner to keep Fido cool.
You could also invest in a WiFi camera to keep an eye on your pup while you’re away. You can hook the camera up to the campground’s WiFi, though those aren’t typically that reliable or that strong. If you’re traveling in a Bowlus Endless Highways Edition, you’ll have a robust router and an antenna pre-wired on the roof. Just hook up to as many as two different cellular networks, and you’re ready to securely connect your camera to the internet.
If you’re headed off for the day to tackle a long hiking trail in a national park or other locations where dogs aren’t allowed, you may also consider booking your best friend a spa day at a local doggy day care. You’ll come back to a dog that’s as exhausted as you are!
There are some dogs that just aren’t going to love the camping experience no matter what you do. And that’s OK too. There are some people who have no interest in RV life, so we shouldn’t expect that all dogs will be game for that kind of adventure! If this describes your dog, then it’s best for everyone involved to book them a nice trip to their favorite boarding facility while you head out in your RV. That way, everyone gets the vacation that suits them best!