For many people who like to go camping or who are considering a full-time RVing lifestyle, concern for their pets is a big deal. Just as in a stationary home, our pets are part of our family. And we know that feeling is shared by the thousands of RVers who travel with their dogs, cats, ferrets, sugar gliders, birds, snakes and lizards. Hopefully not all at the same time.
One of the biggest considerations in traveling with your pets has to be thinking of others, not just yourself and your pet. Every campsite has its rules for people camping with their pets. The rules we've found to be pretty much universal are:
- clean up after your pets
- don't allow your dog to bark constantly
- have your pets on a leash at times
- don't leave your pet unattended outsie of your RV
But guess what? At just about every campsite we've stayed at, we've seen each and every rule violated. This posting is going to seem a bit preachy, but I want to be able to travel with my pets in the future. And if folks with pets keep violating park rules, full-time RV'ers with pets are going to be in quite the pickle when no RV park will allow pets anymore.
Clean It Up!
What's the big deal about picking up dog poop? Phil and I have a little bag holder right on Xander's leash. And even if you don't have that, bringing along a plastic bag to put your dog's feces in shouldn't be a big deal. I've stepped in more dog poop in RV parks than I want to have to admit. It's gross. And if you don't notice you've stepped in poop, then you track it all through your RV. Not a pleasant experience, you can take it from me. And it's bad enough for a person like me, who has dogs, to step in a pile, can you imagine being a camper who doesn't have a dog and you're taking a nice walk in the campground or the adjoining grounds and squish!? Would that endear you to people with pets? I can't blame for not wanting to camp folks with dogs.
And it's just not stepping in dog poop that makes violating this rule so grievous. Dog feces is a danger to other animals and to people as well. The year we worked in Yellowstone, the park had lost all but one wolf pup to parvo. How did the pups get parvo? Diseased dog feces that was ingested by the mom. And no matter how you feel about wolves, it should be scary to you that diseased dog feces can have such an impact. What can that same feces do to a little kid who's playing in a park where people don't clean up after their dogs? Or to other animals, including your pets?
Seriously, if you don't clean up after your pets, you're doing everyone a disservice. You're giving responsible dog owners bad names. You're making it easier for RV parks and other campgrounds to either charge a fee to have your pet camp with you, or to just say no to any pets. You're actually creating a health hazard for the environment. If you still think cleaning up after your pet is beneath you, you really don't deserve to have a pet. And I guess it's up to us responsible folks to do our parts. Carry a spare bag, and if you ever see someone not cleaning up after their pets, offer them a bag. I've even been known to pick up other dog's poop, but we shouldn't have to do that, should we?
Dogs bark. That's what they do. Our dogs bark when they see other dogs go by. But there's a difference between the occasional yap and constant barking. If your dog can't go two seconds without barking, then camping in established campgrounds, and certainly full-time RV'ing, is not the right choice for them. Constant barking is an annoyance to everyone. I can't stand barking, and I live with two dogs. It's not fair to those around you if your dog is constantly barking. If you can't shut 'em up, leave 'em at home. If you're a full-timer, take them for training or find some other deterrent. It's not cheap, but it will make your life easier.
Keep 'Em Leashed!
This is the rule that we see broken most often, usually by well meaning owners. The fact is this rule is in place for good reasons. Even the best-trained, most well-behaved dog can get into a temptation situation where they can get into trouble when they're not leashed. Even if you have the best trained and behaved dog, you never know what other dogs in the park are like. I've had people tell me how great their dogs are, so they unleash them, then have to yell their heads off to get their dogs to come back to them.
Even scarier for other dog owners is when unleashed dogs come running towards and dogs, scaring the bejesus out of me, and inciting my dogs. While your dog just might want to play, other dogs might not be so nice. We knew a guy with rescue dogs who were fine around people, but would rip the throat out of any other dog. When he would walk around a park he would warn people to keep their dogs away, but he shouldn't have had to.
Why go through that? Why put other people through that? Just keep your dogs on a leash when you're walking with them. A lot of parks even have fenced dog areas where you can allow your dogs free reign. Take them there if you want them to run free. Just don't forget to clean up their poop in those enclosed areas!
This is another rule that you see more times than you'd expect at RV parks. Dogs are leashed outside an RV, with their humans nowhere in sight. I've seen this in coyote or jav-infested areas. I've seen this on hot, hot days with no shade in sight. And I hear these poor dogs barking their heads off. If your dog can't be trusted your RV when you're not with them, then either crate them inside, or don't RV with them. It's really as easy as that.
If we all can follow these simple rules then we will be able to bring our furry friends with us wherever we go.
Next up: Pet proofing your RV