Living On The Road With Dogs: FAQ
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Roadlife is one of the best things we’ve done for Tybee and Tyki. Not only do we get to spend so much more time together, but they’ve gotten to experience so many incredible outdoor places. They get to have the same freedom as we do!
But, understandably, there are a lot of questions that come up when people find out we live on the road in 200 sq. ft. with two dogs. Below are answers to some of those questions.
How to keep the inside of the rig clean and mud free?
Having a towel by the door is key! When the towel is laid out on the floor mat, Tybee and Tyki know to stand on it and let us wipe their feet off.
To keep our bed clean when T & t sleep with us, we cover it with an old bedsheet to collect any fur and dirt that comes off of them.
Our mini broom and dustpan is wonderful to have so we can quickly sweep up any dirt that gets tracked in. But the best thing ever is our small Shop-Vac. It helps keep me sane.
How do you visit national parks with dogs?
National parks are known for their restrictive rules regarding dogs. Dogs are only allowed in developed areas (roads, parking lots, and some picnic areas and campgrounds). But this doesn’t mean we don’t visit national parks, it just means we have to plan our visits around Tybee and Tyki. We also accept that we won’t be able to explore the parks as thoroughly as we would otherwise.
When logistics and the weather allow it, we leave T & t in the Toaster while we visit national parks. If we can’t leave them in the rig, then we’ll head to the park super early while it’s still cool, park under shade, and leave them in the truck with all the windows down and a bowl of water. We only do this is we know it won’t get hot and they are safe in there. Then we make sure to get back ASAP. And we just don’t go if it’s too hot. No national park is worth losing them!
(I know just saying that we leave our dogs unattended in our truck may automatically piss some people off. Before you leave nasty comments, know that our dogs are our everything, and their safety and happiness is the utmost importance to us. We do not cut it close; if there is any doubt the truck will stay cool enough, we don’t leave them.)
Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument actually have dog kennels available (the Carlsbad kennel has A/C). Other national parks and national monuments may also offer dog kennels, but these are the ones we have come across.
I recently learned there are actually some national parks that allow dogs on the trails:
North Cascade National Park, WA: Dogs are allowed only on the Pacific Crest Trail and within 50 feet of roads. Full detail.
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ: Dogs are allowed on the trails above the rim at the South Rim. Full detail.
Mammoth Cave National Park, KY: Dogs are permitted on the hiking trails but not in the caves. Full detail.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, OH: Dogs are allowed over 110 miles of hiking trail and 20 miles of the Towpath Trail. Full detail.
The list above is not a comprehensive list of all the national parks that allow dogs.
If you have plans to go to Canada, they do allow dogs in their national parks (visit each park website to find out the details because some trails are closed to dogs).
Do you leave the dogs alone in the RV?
The main reason why we purchased a fifth-wheel rather than a van or truck camper is because of Tybee and Tyki. We knew it would be a lot safer, temperature-wise, in a larger rig. Not to mention that we reinsulated the entire rig.
Tybee was already 11 years old when we hit the road and had arthritis, so we knew she wouldn’t be able to go everywhere with us and would need a comfortable and safe place to hang out while we were gone.
So yes, we do leave the dogs alone in the rig. But we pay extreme attention to the temperatures, especially since we don’t have A/C. Here’s a post I wrote about how we keep the dogs cool and safe in an RV.
Where do the dogs sleep inside the Toaster?
Tybee and Tyki usually sleep with us on the bed (they like to sleep on each side of me causing me to feel like I’m in a coffin!). But they each have their own beds in the bedroom.
Tybee’s 4-inch memory foam bed fit perfectly at the foot of our bed, right in front of the sink. It was enough space for her to turn around and sprawl out when she wasn’t in bed with us. Tyki’s bed sits on top of the platform we made to go over the shower pan. There are nights when he chooses to sleep in that rather than with us.
How to you handle vet visits?
We handle vet visits differently with Tybee and Tyki. Being an older dog, Tybee needed vet visits frequently and that’s why she was signed up for the Banfield Pet Hospital wellness plan. Banfields are in most cities, which made it easy to find one when necessary.
With Tyki, we pick a new vet to go to whenever it’s time for his annual check-up. Oftentimes, vets offer free first-time visit deals, so we try to take advantage of those to save money.
Since we’re always visiting new vets, I keep a folder on my computer with information of the vets we’ve gone, notes from the visits, scanned copies of their records, dates of upcoming shots, and any additional important information.
Where do you get dog food and how do you store it?
We used to get dog food from Amazon, but we recently realized it wasn’t really any cheaper than buying at a store, and dealing with shipping is a pain. Nowadays, we try to get food from local pet stores and hope that they carry the brand we buy.
We store the dog food in a five-gallon bucket with a separately-purchased airtight Gamma Seal lid.
What is it like living on the road with an older dog?
Wonderful and difficult. Older dogs need and deserve more attention, and luckily living on the road allowed us to do that for Tybee. We always made sure to set her needs above ours. You can read about the specific difficulties we had in this blog post.
Was the transition to living on the road hard on the dogs?
It wasn’t for Tybee, but it was difficult for Tyki. I’ve had Tybee since she was 8 weeks old and she’s never had a bad day in her life. She’s always been super chill and adaptable.
We adopted Tyki a year before we hit the road and from what we can tell, he was abused in his previous life. The transition from a house to an RV and the lack a routine really took a toll on Tyki. I talk more about the issues Tyki faced and what we did to help him adjust in this post.
How do you socialize your dogs on the road?
Honestly, we don’t. Neither Tybee or Tyki like dog parks. Their socialization comes from whoever we’re hanging out with and just being out in towns.
Tybee liked everyone and was always eager to meet people. But she wasn’t a big fan of other dogs, especially as she aged and knew she wasn’t as stable on her feet – high-energy dogs made her nervous. Tyki takes a while to warm up to people and dogs alike. But he’s real sweet once his does. Sadly, he’s never made a good dog-friend so he’s a bit awkward around other dogs.
How to keep them comfortable on travel days?
Setting aside a dedicated space for your dogs to comfortably lay is key! The back portion of our truck cab is all for Tybee and Tyki. The back seats of our supercab truck aren’t full size, so we built a dog platform to give them a wide enough space to lay. On top of the dog platform is literally about 6 inches of dog beds piled on top of one another. It was enough space for both Tybee and Tyki to lay and move around. But Tyki now gets the whole space for himself since Tybee passed away.
We also removed the original truck center console and built a new one that was wider and level with the platform. This way they can walk up and hang out between us if they want.
How do you handle getting dog medicine?
For flea and heartworm (prescription required) medicine, we get it online at 1-800-Pet-Meds.
Tybee needed additional medicine like Proin (for urinary incontinence), Gabapentin (pain control), Rimadyl (anti-inflammatory), and Adequan (arthritis pain control). Those all require prescriptions. While they can be purchased at 1-800-Pet-Meds, I got them from the vet out of habit. Gabapentin is a pain medication for people, so I was able to pick this up from any pharmacy, and it was cheaper than a vet.
The difficulty with prescription medicine is that vets can’t refill a prescription written by another vet in a different state. If you need a refill, you’ll have to bring your dog in to get looked at and have another prescription written. This is why I always ask to get the max number of pills at one time.
What do you do when the dogs can’t come along with you: eating out, grocery shopping, running errands, etc.?
Our options are leaving them in the Toaster (if temperatures allow it), leaving them in the truck (if the temperatures allow it, still with the windows down), or one of us hangs out with them in the truck while the other runs errands.
Tyki’s favorite place to hang out, aside from being outside and chasing chipmunks, is in his truck. He goes to it voluntarily when he’s nervous, so we know he feels safe and comfortable in there.
Where do the dogs hang out when you’re boondocking?
Tybee and Tyki are both extremely well-behaved dogs so we don’t ever worry about them. Once we’re all settled in at a boondocking site we let the dogs roam free. Tybee’s arthritis kept her close by. But Tyki wanders. It usually takes him a few days before he’s comfortable enough to actually be out of sight. He does his own thing and comes back throughout the day to check up on us, water up, and nap before heading back out again. Tyki tends to ignore people so we don’t worry even if we’re boondocked near other people – unless we know they don’t like dogs or have cats they let outside.
We don’t let him wander around outside at night, especially if we hear coyotes or other wild animals. If we do let him out at night for a potty break, we clip an LED light to his collar so we can watch him.
There were several things we made sure of before letting him go off on his own:
We made sure he responded well to our recall commands. This was crucial to us being comfortable letting him do anything off-leash.
He always wears his collar with his tags on it that has our phone numbers.
Tyki is also chipped.
Do they ever get in the way in that small of space?
Tybee had the tendency to lay right in the middle of the main room, which meant we had to walk around her whenever we were walking from one end of the rig to the other. But she did this in a regular house, especially in the kitchen! So we were used to it. Besides, she was allowed to do anything she wanted.
Tyki usually just sleeps in his bed when he’s inside the Toaster. Until he hears us preparing food, then he stands in the bedroom doorway waiting for vegetable butts to be tossed his way.
How do you bathe them?
Tybee needed monthly baths, Tyki not as often. We usually visit self-serve dog washes; they’re easy to find in medium to large towns. If we happen to be staying at an RV park then we’ll wash the dogs in either our indoor or outdoor shower. If we’re at a friend’s and it’s not too cold outside then we’ll use the garden hose.
Leave us a comment if you have a question that hasn’t been answered here and we’ll add it to this post!