Are you considering RVing with your furry friend but feeling uncertain you know what it takes to make sure he’s comfortable while living on the road? Traveling can be a real stressor not only for us, but also our pets. Cassi from Midtown Mutts held an educational workshop during our first La Mesa RV West Sacramento Community Event last year, on how to identify your dogs needs while RVing. Today we’re bringing you her five tips on detecting signs of stress from your pup and how to travel comfortably and happily with your adventure buddy!
1. Is your pup trained?
Having a strong foundation of training skills under you and your dogs belt is the first thing to a successful trip with your pup. Being able to have your dog settle on their bed, stay and walk politely on leash are not just important for an enjoyable travel experience, it will ensure for both of your safety. We recommend using positive reinforcement to teach your dogs these skills. Training should be fun for both you and your buddy!
2. Understand your dogs body language.
This is key when traveling with your dog. Being able to identify when they are truly happy and when they are stressed about something in the environment will not only ensure that your pup has a great time traveling with you, but can help keep them and (those around) stay safe. We have all been told that a wagging tail means we have a happy dog – but that’s not always the case! How a dog wags its tail and what the rest of their body is telling us is often a better indicator of how happy our dogs really are. Here’s how to tell:
A happy dog = loose body language.
Their muscles will be more relaxed when they are happy, which will make it seem like your pup is wiggly. Their eyes will have a soft look about them and their mouth open, often with a lolling tongue.
A stressed dog = tight/tense body language.
A stressed dog will often show very subtle signs at first and escalate if those signs are ignored. They might avoid eye contact with something in the environment, or even stare something down. Their body language will be more tense, tight. Other signs of stress to look for are: yawning, lip licking, scratching themselves, hard eyes, furrowed eye brows, cowering, or leaning away from something. When looking at your dogs body language, it’s important to look at the whole dog, not just a single piece of body language.
3. Give your dog space.
When your dog is uncomfortable with something or someone in the environment, it’s important that you give your dog plenty of space from that thing or person. Once you’ve given your dog distance and they have calmed down, you can begin offering a treat. Do they refuse a treat they normally would take? If so, that is a sign that they are still stressed.
Consider giving them even more space or removing them from the situation completely. Make note of the thing they found scary or stressful so that you can help work with them to overcome the fear. Begin pairing those trigger things at a very small dose (so maybe from a very far distance) with their favorite tasty treat. Over time they will form an association with the uncomfortable stimuli to their favorite treat and begin to be less upset by it. As they become more comfortable, you can repeat this process, moving closer and closer to the stimulate, until there is no longer an issue.
4. Make sure they have their supplies.
When traveling with your dog, it is important to consider all the things you will need to have for a stress free trip. Beyond the obvious food and water bowl, you will want to bring a bed, a pen or tie to keep them secure when you can’t hold the leash and long lasting chews or food puzzles to keep them entertained during times when you need them to just settle.
5. Crate training your furry friend.
Crate training is an important skill for any dog to have. You never know when you will need to put your dog in a safe, secure place. When it’s crate time, we want our dogs to be happy and not feel stressed in that space. Traveling can be unpredictable, so having a plan for what to do when it is inappropriate for your dog to be out is important to consider. In addition to safety and convenience, if crate training is done right, your dog will love going into its crate. It will become a familiar, safe place for your dog to go, especially when the rest of your environment is new!
These five tips will help ensure you have a fantastic time with your best fur buddy while living out your RVing dreams! Did you make a new year’s resolution to be more active? Check out our recent interview with The Fit RV to get inspired on Maintaining A Healthy Lifestyle While Living On The Road.