When looking at embarking on an RVing adventure with your pup, it's crucial to consider everything from their comfort and safety to how you'll store and access everyday doggy items. Regardless of whether you have an eighty pound German Shepherd or a ten-pound toy poodle, having a plan in place is the difference between a successful and stressful adventure.
RV safety should be the first thing you think about when planning your camper adventures, especially if you plan to leave your pup alone at all in your camper. The material used is a lot less durable than what we're used to in our homes, which makes getting into cupboards or other storage spaces a possibility to prepare for. And even though your German Shepherd is usually the picture-perfect pup, remember you'll be in a new place, with new sounds and smells. Plan ahead to make sure your camper is a safe space for your pup.
A useful safety tip is to make lists of all cleaning and other chemical agent items you're planning to have with you. Fluid for lanterns, bug spray, bear spray- whatever you can think of. Then check those items against another source, like this list provided by Pet Poison Helpline, and see what can be harmful to your doggy and make sure those items are kept in safe storage area or secure box within another storage area. And don't forget to familiarize yourself with the poisonous food items on that list as well to make sure any snacks sitting around (like chocolate for toasted marshmallows and smores) are out of reach.
2. A Tired German Shepherd is a Good German Shepherd
As soon as you embark on your RVing adventure, your pup's life is about to experience some drastic changes, and the best way to keep those changes from creating behavioral issues is to mentally and physically stimulate him or her. The humane society has a list of great brain games for dogs that you can find here. Along with games to tire your pup out, you'll need to plan time to exercise. The amount of time you need to dedicate to their exercise will depend on the breed: some are notoriously lazy, like Great Danes, while others will need more rigorous activity, like the forever energetic German Shepherd. If your RVing life is going to consist of daily hikes, then plenty of exercise is already built-in.
3. Dog Appropriate Activities
If you're traveling with a pup who struggles to keep up with activity, and it's your goal to get out as much as possible, try to break your adventures up into small sections so that you don't overly exhaust our pup. You can also research Rover.com sitters in your area who can keep an eye on your fur baby while you plan for an all-day or overnight hike or activities that are not dog appropriate.
4. Temperature Check
Just because you're RVing doesn't mean your camper is safe at all times. If it's too hot and you're going to be gone for an extended period of time, your pup could face unsafe conditions. Keep in mind where you park your camper (shade can make a huge difference), and be prepared to make a new plan if necessary to avoid leaving your pup for prolonged amounts of time in a hot camper.
5. Kennel Comfort
Because your pup will be in new places with new sounds, it's a good idea to work on getting them comfortable in their kennel before hitting the road. Your German Shepherd will feel safer if he has his own den (crate), and that way, you won't have to worry as much if you need to leave him or her alone for a few hours. Remember, a bored German Shepherd is often a destructive German Shepherd, and kennel comfort can go a long way to preventing your camper from getting "re-decorated".
6. Organize, Organize, Organize
The last thing you want to deal with while on the road is learning that you're running short on supplies or realizing you forgot an essential item for your German Shepherd.
This is another great avenue to put your list-making skills to use! First, make a list of how to prepare your camper and what you'll need handy. Things to think about are: water and food bowls, dog towels to handle muddy messes, dog-safe shampoo in case you get into a stinky situation, plenty of poop bags, and whatever else you can think of that you routinely use in your home.
The next list to focus on is a packing list. It may seem silly to make a packing list for a pup, but imagine getting settled into your first few days of RVing only to realize you forgot a vital piece of doggy equipment? Things to focus on with the packing list are medications, comfort items, treats, leash, and collars, etc. The more prepared you are to hit the road, the smoother the experience will be!
7. Dog and Campsite Etiquette
Is your German Shepherd dog reactive? Or maybe your Lab is stranger aggressive? Whatever individual behavioral issues your dog may have, prepare for those, and how you'll deal with them. If your camper will be parked at a campsite with hookups, chances are it'll be fairly busy. So your dog-aggressive German Shepherd may be faced with having to go on walks to and from the camper with lots of potential to have run-ins with other dogs. Or if you're planning on camping off-the-grid with no hookups (like electricity or running water), there's a chance a hiking stranger could surprise your pup. Be aware of the situations you're putting your doggy in and plan accordingly.
If you're going to be exploring National Parks, know that they all have their own regulations. It's a good idea to visit the National Park Service website found here for an idea of what to expect.
8. Obedience Check
RVing and camper living (even if it's just for a few days) will mean spending a lot of time outside, and that means you'll want your dog to have a good recall command. The last thing you need is your eighty-pound German Shepherd thinking that he's a bad ass and taking off to chase a thousand-pound moose! Start practicing come and down, and if you're unsure of how to train and proof those commands (meaning that your dog will still obey under distraction), then reach out to a local trainer and get help before your RVing experience begins. This also adds the benefit of getting to work on obedience while adjusting to the camper, meaning your doggy will get plenty of chances for exhausting mental stimulation.
9. Name Tags and Shots
Make sure your German Shepherd is microchipped and wears a collar with a name tag at all times. You're in a new and unfamiliar environment and want to make sure if your pup gets lost, he or she is easy to return. Along with identification tags, be sure your pup is up to date on shots and has a recent health check.
10. Emergency and First Aid
From cuts and scrapes to porcupine attacks, anything can happen. Research and put together an emergency kit to keep in your camper so that you're prepared for those possibilities. Watch videos or attend local classes on how to handle it if your dog gets caught in a trap (if you plan on letting your pup run free), and consider ordering educational material to keep in your camper so if you experience an accident RVing, you know what to do.
Enjoy your RVing adventures and camper living, and don't forget to take plenty of German Shepherd centric pictures along the way!
Welcome to the Pack!
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