Tips for RV Travel With a Senior Dog 561

Senior dog staring out RV window

I would do anything to keep my dogs with me as long as possible.  But like humans, our dogs get older and time flies by too fast. Fortunately for our dog, Peanut Butter Brickle, we found a “fountain of youth” – the RV travel lifestyle.

I often hear people say that older dogs just want to sleep. Peanut Butter Brickle, our 14-year-old dog, would wholeheartedly disagree. For almost seven years, we have traveled in our RV with our dogs by our side. We sincerely believe that the RV lifestyle has added not only years to his life, but that the RV lifestyle has added quality of life.  And isn’t that what we all want? – a rich life of memories made with man’s best friend.

The Dogs of 2 Traveling Dogs
Peanut Butter Brickle and Digby Pancake enjoying the oudoors. Photo: Rachael Johnson

Don’t Underestimate Your Dog

People can still accomplish many fun and active things as we get older. Our dogs can too! You know your dog better than anyone. You know your dog’s health, limitations, and personality. If your dog is physically able to enjoy a walk, consider the RV travel lifestyle.

Capitol-Reef-National Park with dogs
Brickle and Digby in Capitol Reef National Park

One of the best parts about RV travel for dog parents is that you can customize how you travel! Having a house on wheels allows you to take breaks more often, have your dog supplies on hand, and move to accommodate the weather. As our dog, Digby Pancake, got older he was more sensitive to hot temperatures. So we planned our trips and RV routes to avoid very hot temperatures. Invest in a remote RV thermometer so you can regulate temperature inside the RV at all times. A cooling dog bed can also help pups who are sensitive to heat.  We were known to get to a campsite that wasn’t shady or too close to others and ask to change campsites. If it didn’t work for the dogs, we moved on.

Even if your dog has limitations with age, like decreased mobility, there are ways to accommodate your dog. We purchased dog stairs from Camping World to get Brickle in and out of our tow vehicle more easily. We also purchased a ramp for Digby Pancake to safely get him in and out of the RV. Just like a regular house, your house on wheels can be altered in order to help your dog enjoy life to the fullest.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Experience New Things

We find that our dog, Brickle, is happiest when we travel. For him, new sights, smells, and a home base to explore gives him renewed energy. I see that energy in the pace of his steps and his appetite, not only for mealtimes but for life. His excitement doesn’t start when we get to a new campground, it starts when we start the truck and the RV heads down the open road. What is amazing to me is that although we have traveled full-time for years, he will remember every campground we have ever visited. I see him picking the same trails to hike on and remembering landmarks. Never think that your dog doesn’t notice the little things, or that your dog doesn’t remember specific places or people.

If our senior dogs cannot enjoy what they used to when they were younger, the thrill of a car ride in a new place with the windows down can be magic! Many National Parks do not allow dogs on trails, so we took opportunities to enjoy the roads and sights from the RV with our dogs. These were some of our favorite memories as we watched them see buffalo, bears, or other animals from the safety of our vehicle. After a ride, a picnic would always be nice in the park picnic areas, which generally allowed dogs.

RVing to Dog-Friendly Campgrounds

Help Your Dog Find a Purpose

I see the fulfillment in my dogs with their sense of purpose when it comes to travel.  Just like humans like to accomplish things every day, so do our dogs.  Brickle takes pride in his work, work like:

  • Taking the lead during hikes
  • Finding his favorite spot at the campsite
  • Alerting us to the time of day

Yes, dinnertime is always on time with Brickle on watch.  Each new campground gives us a new plan for our day’s activities. But we always include at least an hour to give him time to sniff, explore, and get settled as soon as we arrive at camp.

2 Traveling Dogs in South Dakota

Our newly adopted dog Fruitycake was very timid, scared, and lacked confidence. We were nervous about taking him camping for the first time. And we were right to be nervous! For the first few weeks, Fruitycake was unsure of his role in our family, what camping meant, what his boundaries were, and what was expected of him. His barking almost got us kicked out of a few campgrounds – we admit!  But he blossomed about a month into our travels with a routine and diligence in training.  It also took a lot of patience on our part. However, the key to Fruitycake’s happy camper success was Brickle’s experienced lead.  We have watched older dogs train younger dogs better than we could. Brickle seems to find joy and purpose in showing Fruitycake what is expected of him.

2 Traveling Dogs on Dog-Friendly Road Trip
New pup to the pack, Fruitycake, right. Image: Two Traveling Dogs

Keep Your Dog Healthy On The Road

Digby Pancake passed away recently after battling illnesses for years. We know that RV travel kept him with us for longer than if we had not traveled. We made sure to get him the healthcare he needed with scheduled vet visits, pet insurance, alternative health treatments, a good diet, and purpose. Even when Digby was feeling his worst, he would ask to take a ride in the car or the RV.

2 Traveling Dogs at Dog-Friendly Pechanga Resort

Take A Test Drive With Your Dog

If you are unsure if RV travel is right for your senior dog, renting an RV from Good Sam may be a perfect opportunity to find out!  There are many pet-friendly RVs available for rent, and some may even be delivered directly to your campground of choice.  Make sure to pack your dog’s bed, favorite toys, and things that bring them comfort. Allow your dog to find their own safe place in the RV and allow time to adjust. Be sure and have your dog leashed before exiting the RV.  A senior dog may get confused more easily in a new place at first, so pack your kindness and many extra treats. Pick a destination close to your home or in a familiar area may make the first trip easier.

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Cherish Every Minute With Your Senior Dog

When people ask us how old Brickle is with a sad look, I don’t understand. Just because Brickle is almost 14, he lives every day to the fullest and he enjoys being out on the trails having new adventures. Give your senior dog a chance to try the RV lifestyle, no matter what their age is.  A senior dog should be given the opportunity to thrive! Fresh air, new scents, new scenery and adventure may be what your dog needs now more than ever. And remember, just like us, our dog’s personalities can change as they get older. Brickle has become more tolerant, kind, and observant with age. Your dog may surprise you!  When our dogs are happy – we are happy.  My senior dog gives me a reason to get up early, plan more trips, and to live every day with attention.

The RV life has certainly kept my senior dog young, and it has kept me young too.

We know that life is short.  But our dogs truly live each day to the fullest and teach us to do the same. Dogs do not know how young or how old we may be. Don’t judge your dog on their age, but give him the opportunity to experience that “fountain of youth” like Peanut Butter Brickle! Find everything you need to travel safely and comfortably with your senior pet at Camping World.

Rachael Johnson and her husband Nate founded 2 Traveling Dogs in 2011. They write a daily dog blog that highlights the RV adventures of rescue dogs Peanut Butter Brickle and Digby Pancake as they travel the USA to highlight animal rescue. With over a million social media followers, they use their platforms to encourage others to adopt their pets and live the best life possible together while traveling!
www.2travelingdogs.com
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