We are totally dog people.
When we decided to sell all (or most) of our possessions. pack up and move into a 30-foot Class 8+ motorhome to full-time on the road, we did not think twice about including our two dogs, Rosey and Ramble, in this next chapter of our lives. However, their polar opposite personalities forced us to do a fair amount of planning and purchasing before we hit the road. We knew we could not plan for everything and that we would face some dog-related problem solving.
In these first several months of our full-time RVing adventure, we have learned a few tidbits that have made the journey more enjoyable for us and our four-legged friends. We hope these tips will help you, too.
Beware the hair
If you have carpet in your RV. congrats! You may not see the endless collection of hair that finds its way Into every nook and cranny. If you do not have carpet, congrats! You now have the finest dog-hair carpet a confined environment can offer. If your dog shed pre-nomad life, the hair is still going to be there and it's still going to need to go somewhere. It won't magically disappear just because you've traded in a cement foundation for wheels. On the bright side, sweeping up and lint rolling any hair-covered surfaces only takes minutes because your home is compact. We recommend a combination of frequent brushing (we love the Furmlnator), regular sweeping and washable dog beds to help keep you ahead of the curve.
Tack up your hounds
Remember how easy it was to just open your back door. send fido out to do his business, and then pause the TV a few minutes later to let your fur-baby rejoin
you indoors? Those days are over, sister. Private campgrounds in your future? You will need to leash your pets. State or National Parks in your future? You guessed it - leashes required. Knowing we would be doing a lot of in and out and up and down the motorhome steps for daily walks and potty business, we invested in sturdy, reflective and comfortable harnesses, collars and leashes. We chose Ruffwear products partly because of their style. but mostly because of their durability and because they are meant for outdoor activity. They have performed wonderfully through hikes in the woods, romps along the Atlantic Ocean on the beach, countless hookups and a few jail breaks. Be sure to look for tearfree, odor-free options. Bright colors also help motorists see your dogs both day and night. And if nothing else, Rosey and Ramble look darn good in their Sunday best.
We had to find an alternative for our old lady Rosey to ensure she has a comfortable option for resting and sleeping both inside and outside the motorhome. Our dog beds made with outdoor-friendly fabric get a lot of use while we enjoy fresh air at the picnic table or around the campfire. They travel in our tow car and come out once we've parked, hooked up and settled in. Along with an orthopedic bed for inside. we have a couple dog-only throw blankets we use to provide warmth. We like to make those typically unsightly beds fit in with our aesthetic with durable slipcovers featuring modern patterns from Jax and Bones.
Tips for toy maulers
We subscribed to both BarkBox and PetBox at certain points over the last year before we left Nashville. As soon as we began considering the full-timer lifestyle, we started squirreling away toys here and there so we would have a stash built up by the time we started traveling. This stash has been a sanity saver on rainy and cold days when we are forced to stay in or around the motorhome for a day or more. We do not have the space to toss a ball down a hallway or engage in a fierce game of tug, so a new de-squeaked Stuffle can provide us with a good few hours of entertainment while we nurse a cold or read a book by a rain-soaked window.
Feed me, see more
Before you leave, make sure you know where you can find the right dog food for your hounds. Rosey had some digestion issues when we first got her, so we've had to prioritize our dog budget towards low-filler, limited ingredient, all-natural dog food. Since her little brother suffers from Boston terrier-ness, this also means we have to feed Ramble the same to avoid any mealtime confrontations in close quarters.
We found a brand that works for both dogs, and more importantly, is available at PetSmart, PetCo or even Tractor Supply. Having access to your pets' favorite food at all times will give you and your pups more time to see the sights and do the things. If you do plan on switching to more readily available foods, remember to slowly transition your dog to the new food over a few weeks before hitting the road.
Always make a note of where the nearest emergency vet is in relation to your campground. Ramble was diagnosed with a seizure disorder at the beginning of 2015 and is on medication he needs to take every eight hours. In case he has a grand ma! seizure or a poor reaction to meds, we have to know the phone number and approximate location of the closest emergency vet wherever we go. Adding this to your camp checklist could save your canine companion's life.
We took this journey because it was a lifestyle choice we felt better suited who were are as individuals and as family. What we didn't realize was that our dogs would enjoy our adventures just as much as we do. This journey has brought out sides to both Rosey and Ramble that we never knew before. Formerly a couch-potato, now Rosey wants to spend all her time outside, even in nearly freezing weather. Put her on a mountain trail and she - the 14-year-old senior dog - pulls her humans up the inclines and over fallen trees and across creeks. Getting her out on a hike has breathed such new life in her! She acts like she's a puppy again. Ramble has also grown to love his life on the road. He has learned to listen to voice commands, to walk off leash and to take over the copilot seat.
Companion. Security system. Copilot. Best friend. Dogs may not be the whole reason for your life on the road, but they can certainly make your life on the road whole.