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Traveling with dogs? What you need to know?

by | Sep 5, 2020 | 0 comments

RV Life

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Dogs walking on Homer beach at low tide
Is traveling with dogs challenging? YES! Is it worth it? YES YES YES!!!

Our fur babies provide so much love. I don’t always want to take a walk in the morning, in the rain, at night, when I’m tired, in the cold and more… but I wouldn’t consider my life complete without them. They provide more joy than the effort it takes to take care of them. If you already have a dog or are considering traveling in an RV with one, I wanted to provide some insight into what our life with the dogs is like and products we use to make our life easier.

Traveling in the RV

  • It’s interesting that we have two dogs that act very differently when the motorhome is moving.
    • Bandit settles easily and then lays down with whoever is in the passenger seat.
    • Harley used to walk up and down the motorhome. Now she does better where she will lay on the couch. But she doesn’t sleep and normally she does not put her head down. She is not overly distressed but she is not relaxed. I put soft blankets along with a dog bed on the couch when we are driving to give her a comfortable place.
  • We move the motorhome about once a month so the dogs are not dealing with moving the motorhome too often.
  • Both of the dogs recognize the actions we take to pack up to move the motorhome. They tend to settle during the packing activity and wait for the move.

Campground life

  • Sleeping
    • Our dogs, Harley and Bandit, are 15-pound Shih-Poos. They sleep with us in our king-sized bed. They spend most of their time sleeping on the edge of the bed on their own pillows.
  • Eating
    • I did some research on the best senior dog foods and I have settled on alternating between Core Wellness Senior Dog Food and Blue Life Protection Senior Formula. I picked these two as they are USA made and I can get them either online or at a PetSmart. Even though we have small dogs, I like the larger bag for the price savings. I don’t get grain-free as at least two vets have told me to stay away from them.
    • We use steel bowls with a rubber bottom that we’ve placed on a small bathroom rug. The dogs want to always eat on the carpet so we’ve provided the perfect machine washable carpet for them to eat on.
  • Walking
    • Dogs provide a great way to meet neighbors on dog walks. I probably talk to at least 1 to 3 folks on an afternoon walk. This comes in pretty handy to ask any questions about the area or campground.
    • All campgrounds require that dogs walk on their leashes and the owners are required to clean up behind their pets. Few campgrounds provide dog waste containers. I have found this to be challenging as I really don’t want to bring the waste bags into the motorhome.
      • My dogs are safer walking with a harness. It is much easier to control them when other dogs are nearby and I don’t have to be afraid that they could be choked by a collar. I only use the “step in” harness as these are very easy to put on and the dogs have learned to actually step into it.
      • I use retractable leashes where I added waste bag holders and flashlights onto the handle. I lock the leash short when needed but I am able to let them have more freedom when alone and hiking… and I always have waste bags and light when necessary.
      • By the door, I keep 4000 lumen small flashlights that I use when I walk the dogs at night. The flashlights are needed to have visibility in the distance so that I see well when walking around the campgrounds.
      • If we are boondocking in a very dark environment, even with a flashlight, I have found that lighted collars can be invaluable to be able to easily see where the dogs are.
      • I have found a foldable compact trashcan to use to dispose of the waste bags when needed.
      • I never take off our dogs’ collars and tags! They have learned to wear their lightweight collars 24 hours a day. Our dogs are really good at waiting to be told they can leave the motorhome, but something can happen one day that can distract them. Both of the dogs are chipped, but they wear their tags providing phone numbers along with the identity of our motorhome, just in case they should ever become lost.
      • Each dog also has a warm coat as we’re not always in places that is hot. When it’s just too cold outside, they need to wear warm coats that are easy to put on with Velcro.
      • I don’t need a raincoat for the dogs often, but when there’s a downpour outside… I found that needed a raincoat to keep them from getting totally drenched.

Being left behind in the RV

  • What do we do with the dogs?
    • For the first 3 years of traveling, we used a portable travel pen to put the dogs in when we were away from the motorhome. This pen folds up small and it’s easy to put away. Unfortunately, Harley decided that she no longer wanted to be in the pen and clawed her way out of it. We have never been able to put her back in it without her figuring out another way to get out.
    • Since we are concerned about the dogs barking inside the motorhome while we are gone, we then tried a play yard that Harley could not get out of. This works but it’s not easy to store/put away. It’s good to use outside, but it’s a tough item to use inside with our limited space.
    • What do we do now? We’ve decided to let them stay loose. This means that we need to be more diligent about how long we leave the dogs alone.
  • Before we leave, we make sure that
    • the temperature is correct for the forecasted weather while away
    • there is enough food and water
    • the generator will come on automatically if shore power is lost
  • While we are away, I still like to monitor the temperature inside the motorhome.
    • I used to use our weather system to remotely monitor the inside temperature, but they changed their internet product. I’ve been unable to get remote monitoring to work in the motorhome with this change.
    • I plan to get this Wi-Fi-enabled temperature monitor on upcoming Black Friday sales. This product is on all of the “best of” lists for remote temperature monitors and it is actually what I’m looking for peace of mind. I’ll update once I get the product and it working.


  • Whenever possible, I like to take the dogs with us on our adventures. When in the car, we have


  • We love to kayak and the dogs ride on my kayak often. I love to take them with us and when they go with us, I take


From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or “that’s a lot of money for just a dog.” They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a dog.”

Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog.” Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog,” but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog,” and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it’s “just a dog,” then you will probably understand phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.”

“Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure and unbridled joy.

“Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person.

Because of “just a dog,” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.

I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog,” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a woman.” So the next time you hear the phrase “just a dog,” just smile–because they “just don’t understand.”

– Richard A. Biby

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