Our life would not be the same without our two dachshunds (a.k.a wiener dogs)! When we first moved into our RV we didn’t have any pets, but once we took to the road we decided we wanted to add a fury companion, so we started with a puppy. I know your thinking a puppy, in an RV, are you crazy? Yes we were! We picked up our first, what was supposed to be a miniature dachshund, in March 2015 that we named Oscar. He was 8 weeks old and had the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. He was only 4 lbs and we thought we had hit the lottery. He is now 17 lbs and not so mini. He was the hardest puppy to potty train and never did learn to use pee pee pads indoors, so rainy days are crazy days, but that’s a story for another day.
Oscar did not like to be left alone, which I attributed to him being a puppy, but my husband said it was because he was lonely and needed a playmate, so puppy number two came into the picture in July 2015 at 6 weeks of age. This time we got a girl and she became known as Harley and was the darkest chocolate-colored weenie I had ever seen. At 7 weeks she was only 2.10 pounds and also suppose to be a miniature; however, there is nothing miniature about her as she is a plumb 20 lbs. now.
Over the last two years we have learned a few things about living with these two magnificent animals and can’t imagine what our life would be like without them. Although they spend the majority of their day sleeping and being lazy, they still provide much-needed entertainment for us. They are more than just pets, they are our babies and life would not be the same without them.
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LEAVING DOGS IN THE RV
On days that we want to venture out to sightsee, go fishing or just need a break, we leave them in the RV. When they were still puppies, we left them in a crate, which they hated. They did not like being confined to a small space and living in an RV, which is a small space in itself, didn’t really provide much space for a gigantic crate. The solution for us was to use what we had bought to use for an outdoor playpen inside the house. It provided a bigger area for them to move around in. We added their pet bed, a blanket and some toys and they were now good to go. We also leave the television on with their favorite DIY channel playing, which helps to block outside noises. We also leave either the A/C or heat on, depending on the weather, to regulate the temperature. The way we look at it is if we were still in a sticks and bricks house we would leave our dogs at home so what is the difference? This is our home and they have never known anything else, so they do well.
Although most days we leave the dogs at the house when we venture out, there are some days that require us to be gone for more than a few short hours, so we find a local doggy daycare to leave them at. In addition, this gives them time to spend with other dogs, just like children need to interact with other kids, dogs need to interact with other dogs. In the event we ever have to leave them in a kennel overnight, I would rather them be use to the idea of that atmosphere than be put into a situation where they feel alone and scared in an unfamiliar setting. They both love being at daycare and are excited when we drop them off and just as excited when we pick them up.
EXERCISE AND OUTDOOR SAFETY
We take the dogs out many times a day and spend quality time exercising and playing with them. The most important thing to remember is that most, if not all, campgrounds require dogs to be on a leash at all times. I cannot express how important it is for everyone to keep their dogs on a leash. The last thing you want is to witness a dog fight because someone let their dog run free. I see it in every park we have ever stayed at and it drives me crazy. When your outside, set up a playpen area, if allowed, and let your dog get some fresh air. Do not tether your dog outside and go back into your RV. Tethered dogs can get loose and/or tangled up and most parks require you to be present if your dog is outside.
We have a truck and fifth wheel. We have never once thought to let our dogs ride in the fifth wheel on travel days for several reasons. One, it is too hot. Two, the roads are too bumpy and the poor babies would be thrown all over the place. The safest place is to have them in the vehicle with you. Ours ride in the back seat. I have two small puppy pads, one on each side, that provide a softer area to rest on plus a blanket and toys. Harley is the best traveler I have ever seen. She never makes a sound. Instead she sleeps most of the time and only gets up when we stop, which we do every couple of hours to give them both a chance to walk, stretch their little legs and relieve themselves. Oscar is the whiner of the bunch and hates to be in the backseat. He would rather ride up front with the passenger so he can see what’s going on, which we do allow for a few minutes every hour or so. Once he gets his special time, then he will lay right back down and sleep as well.
It is very important to keep your dogs shots up to date. The only place that has asked for proof of rabies was at a park in New Hampshire, but I’m sure there are other places that will ask as we continue to travel to other states that we haven’t been to yet. You should keep your pets records with all your other important documents, so they are easy to locate when needed. When we are going to be in a place for more than a couple of days, I also look for the closest veterinarian office just in case we have an emergency. We learned this the hard way after Oscar was stung by a bee, had a swollen face and had to be treated. In our experience, in order to leave our dogs at doggy daycare or for an overnight stay, the kennel cough vaccine has been required. Some locations might not be prone to fleas, ticks or heartworms, but as a precaution we pre-treat our pets for all three. Either a google search or a call to a local veterinarian can provide information as to whether the area you are visiting should be of concern for these pests and if so precautions can be taken.
I saved the most important thing about RVing with dogs for last….etiquette. More and more people are becoming less concerned about what they do affects others. However, when you stay in an RV park or campground we need to remember that we are not the only ones there and not everyone likes dogs. We need to show consideration for those people as well. All dog owners need to pick up after their dogs. I think we all should have stock in the poop bag industry to recap all the money we spend on those bags. The last thing anybody wants to do when having a nice leisurely stroll, especially at night, is to step in dog poop. Pleeeaaaassssseee pick up after your dog! In addition, do not cut through another campsite especially with your dog, and don’t let them pee on the neighbors flowers or anything else in their yard. Another thing that irritates your neighbors is a dog who constantly barks, especially when your gone. If you’re not sure if your dogs a barker or don’t want to believe it when your neighbor tells you your dog barked all day long, then set up a video camera and record your dog when your gone. We wondered how our dogs behaved while out, so we did just that when we were on our trip in New York. We bought a wireless camera that we could view from our phone, which allows us to watch the dogs, to see what they are doing all day. Not only do we see them, but we can hear them and we can talk to them as well. It provided peace of mind knowing that they were fine and slept more than anything.
RVing with dogs is possible and can be a great experience for all involved. Our life wouldn’t be complete without our furbabies and the enjoyment and companionship they provide is undeniable.