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When Your Dog is Your Co-Pilot

If you take Rover along for the ride when you go RVing, you’re not alone. The RVIA estimates that more than 60 percent of RVers travel with their dog. Why not? Dogs are great company, entertaining and unwaveringly loyal.

But RVing isn’t always conducive to treating your pet responsibly—or lovingly.

Start with RV parks and RV resorts. Not all of them like dogs as much as Cypress Trail does. Here your dog will enjoy either of two leash-free, fenced dog parks—one for small dogs, one for big guys. Each has a doggy wading pool for cooling off. That’s a big deal in sunny Florida. There’s room to play ball, sniff and frolic with other dogs.

Some parks also have trails open to dogs. A few have fenced-in yards at campsites for canine exercise. You can find recommended dog-friendly RV parks online, but it’s a good idea to check online for dog facilities and dog rules at any campsite you plan to visit. If you’re still unsure, just call the park and ask.

Here are other things you can do to keep your dog happy and healthy while RVing:

Help your dog acclimate

Dogs are creatures of habit; a change to their routine can be upsetting. If your dog loves hitting the road in your car, he’ll probably love riding in the motorhome or tow vehicle, too. Don’t transport a dog in a trailer. Before taking him on a long trip, let him ride on a short RV jaunt or two, and spend time in the motorhome or trailer. Give him space of his own—a dog bed or a crate if he spends time in one at home. (Dogs often grow to find their crate a safe, secure place.)

Use a safety harness

Harnesses keep dogs safe. Humans aren’t strong enough to grab a dog and protect it in an emergency stop. A harness distributes the forces generated by a quick stop or crash and keeps the dog from flying into a windshield, the front seat or you. A harness even for a big dog from costs just $42.

Cool it

You wouldn’t leave your dog locked in a hot car. Don’t leave her in a hot camper, either. When she can’t go with you, set thermostat-controlled roof vents to open and fans to run before temperatures reach 76 degrees. If your van lacks one, install a powered rain-hooded vent that won’t automatically close with precipitation. Make sure she has water.

Choose appropriate flooring

If your dog is a shedder, carpeting might not be as desirable as nonslip vinyl flooring. Think twice about laminate flooring or ceramic tile, which can be slippery.

Find a pet sitter

If you plan extended time away from your dog, look for a reliable pet sitter, just as you would at home, to provide companionship, food, fresh water and exercise. You’ll have to provide a door key or temporary security system password, but if the sitter is reputable, that shouldn’t be a problem. For an extra fee, some sitters will sleep in your RV if that makes you—and your dog—feel better.

Find vet care

Occasionally an RVing dog—even one with up-to-date care—needs unexpected veterinary care. Ask for recommendations at any campground or animal shelter. Search online for veterinary care in the locale you’re visiting. Take your pet’s medical records on a thumb drive for an unfamiliar veterinarian to see.

Stop for exercise

If your dog is accustomed to multiple daily walks, stop more often than you might otherwise to let him walk, sniff and relieve himself. The walk will do you good, too. And don’t forget to clean up.

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