One of the main reasons people buy RVs is because they like to travel with their dogs.
But the fact is, not all places are dog friendly. If you want to bring your pooch along, you need to make some adjustments.
On our big Roadtreking Family Vacation of 2013 out west, we traveled with six adults, two kids and three dogs.
You need to understand, our dogs are big dogs. Their heads are the size of most other RVers pets. The lightest among them is my Norwegian Elkhound, Tai. He weighs 70 pounds. Next was my daughter Wendy's Goldendoodle, Charlie, at 75 pounds. Then came my son Jeff's part St Barnard and husky, Sequoia, who weighs 120 pounds.
We went everywhere we wanted to go but we encountered several places – usually in National Parks – where dogs were not allowed. That required some dog juggling. One of us would usually volunteer to get dog duty, staying back at the camp or in the RV watching the dogs while the others went sightseeing.
Most typically, dogs are not allowed on hiking trails that would put them near wildlife. Dogs are naturally protective of their people. So are animals of their young. If a dog spots a mama bear on a hike, its's going to bark and growl. That only antagonizes the bear. So you can see why the Park Service has that rule.
Still, there were several places, even a couple of trails, where dogs could go. They can be walked around the campsites, on the main roads and in parking lots and we never were at a loss about where to walk the dogs.
Most beaches prohibit dogs. Most, but not all. We have found several beaches in our travels with Tai this year where dogs are allowed near the water. Usually, if you ask around at the campground, you'll learn that almost every community has a no leash dog park, often with water access for the pups to play.
The dogs are also people magnets. Almost everywhere we went on our family vacation, people flocked to meet the dogs.
Not everyone likes dogs, however. At Rocky Mountain National Park, my daughter had Charlie on a leash at one of the overlooks, where dogs are permitted. A loud mouthed woman in a passing car rolled down the window and screamed at the top of her lungs, “No dogs allowed.” That was not true. Dogs are allowed in most of the public areas, just not on the backwoods hiking trails.
It is easy to understand why some people are upset about seeing dogs. Just look around at the ground in rest areas and campgrounds and you'll see the reason. Dog poop. Inconsiderate dog owners – slobs – who refuse to pick up their pet's waste. We always travel with a plastic bag in our pockets and we always clean up after our dogs. But so many pet owners don't. And that gives all dogs a bad name.
We also always keep our dogs on leashes or, at the campground, tied on ropes. Sequoia and Tai are pretty calm. But they will gladly chase a deer if it passes by. Charlie is a barker and there were many times when we put him in time out because he was too excited by all the people walking past. We also kept him inside my daughter's trailer until late morning, so he didn't wake other campers with his excited yips and barks.
The sun is a big issue for dogs. They sweat only through their mouths and they always need shade. At camp, even on cloudy days, we extended awnings to give them a cool place, always with a bowl of water close by. Tai and Charlie liked to hang out under the trailer. Sequoia preferred the shade of a tree. Dogs are social animals and they like to be around their people, their pack.
We also used the Roadtrek as a big dog kennel. Our 24-foot eTrek is fine for Jennifer and me and Tai. But add Sequoia and Charlie and the aisle got pretty crowded. The dogs didn't mind because the air conditioning kept things comfortable. We never left an animal in the Roadtrek without a human tender. Can you imagine how horribly hot and dangerous it would be inside an RV if the AC stopped working?
Dogs are also prohibited from most stores and buildings. When shopping, we'd leave the dogs with one person for a few minutes. Then someone else would change places, so we all could shop and the dogs always had a human with them.
Like people, dogs need breaks from long driving down the interstate. But be aware of where you walk them in rest areas. Dogs are often prohibited in picnic areas, again, because of the inconsiderate actions of those who don't clean up after their animals.
Be careful where you walk them. In the west and south, poisoness snakes are often in the underbrush just past the green grass. Ticks are also a problem in spring and early summer. In February, Tai picked up two ticks from a five minute walk in a per exercise area at a rest stop along I-75 in Tennessee.
Those are some of my observations after a couple of seasons of RVing with dogs. How about you? What tips can you suggest? Use comments below.