Let’s talk about some adventures in full-time RVing with pets…
It’s ten p.m. and the cat is screeching a request:
“Take me outside for a walk!”
We have inadvertently created a monster.
His name is Hobbes and he is a very sturdy 15 lbs. yellow tabby raised by two Labrador retrievers. He discovered how to use the dog door when he was just four months old and he’s been an indoor/outdoor explorer ever since.
One of our biggest concerns when we decided to travel full-time with our pets was how Hobbes would do being cooped up in a 38′ motorhome all day every day. So before we left, we decided to leash train him.
At first, he would have none of it.
I’d put the leash on him. He would look shocked. Then his eyes would roll back in his head, his legs would stiffen up, and he crash over and hit the floor on his side. Repeatedly. This went on for weeks.
Then, one day he walked a little. Then a bit further.
We took him “grandma’s” (Nelson’s mom) for a weekend stay. As we pulled into the drive, I slipped his harness on and got out of our van. Nelson rounded the corner of the van at the same time, Hobbes freaked out when he saw him, escaped from my arms, pulled himself out of the harness, shot under the van and then dashed around the house. Luckily, he ran through Grandma’s fence, into her backyard and up to her sliding door.
Clearly, we had more work to do. AND we needed a better harness.
Enter The Kitty Holster Harness. I did a ton of research on cat harnesses and this got lots of excellent reviews on Amazon for being sturdy and difficult for kitties to escape from. We ordered one and started trying to get him used to it. Then, a happy accident happened when we left for training in Florida. We decided to leave the pets at Grandma’s for the three weeks we’d be consumed with training and Grandma started walking Hobbes and getting him really used to the leash and harness!
By the time we returned, Hobbes was much more familiar with being leashed up and heading outside.
We quickly discovered, though, that seeing people and cars freaked him out fast. In the quiet of Grandma’s backyard, no big deal. At a wooded area at a truckstop or in the parking lots we live in for work – BIG SCARY DEAL.
As a solution, we started walking Hobbes with Rex, our 12 year old black lab, at night. It was quieter, with almost no cars around, and usually was people-free. We now regularly take a 30-minute stroll. And Hobbes reminds us that it’s time to go if we look too comfortable on the couch.
Both pets like the routine and it gives them time to roam and smell. Rex also goes on a couple-mile walk with Nelson each morning and several shorter walks throughout the day.
The pets seem to like that we pop in and out of the rig multiple times a day while we’re working. Keeping the routine seems to make everyone happy and stress-free.
We’d estimate it was 3-4 weeks before the pets really settled in and got to used the noise of the rig, the generator and the moving slides (we have two). Now, as soon as Nelson fires up the rig, Hobbes goes under the passenger’s captain chair to ride and Rex heads to his dog bed in the back. They ride there the whole time, only coming out when we stop for gas or meals. Then they head back until we arrive at our next destination and cut the engine. They pop out, ready for whatever is next (they are hoping for dinner).
Nelson also created a nice and private litterbox spot for Hobbes in our bathroom. We sacrificed a bit of cabinet space but it was worth it for his comfort and to keep the rig litter- and smell-free.
Our advice when traveling full-time with your pets in an RV – take things slowly.
Create and stick to a routine. Understand they (and maybe YOU) will be anxious for a time. That should pass as everyone adjusts to a “new normal.”
Do YOU travel full-time with your pets in an RV? Have you found any routines or solutions that work for your furry family members? Please share!
[Note: The Kitty Holster Harness link above is an Amazon.com affiliate link. If you purchase a harness using this link, we’ll make a small commission from Amazon. Thanks for helping to support our travels!]