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RVing with pets? First, consider this

All RVing pets are quiet, clean, obedient, well-adapted and appreciated by other motorhomers. Right? Well ... before traveling with animals aboard your motorhome, here are points to consider.

Differences
Like people, different types of pets react differently to motorhome travel. Many "grew up" in the motorhome, and it's the only life they know. They adapt to motorhome travel easily. For others it might take many occasional trips before they become comfortable in the motorhome.

Because of health, environmental or behavioral factors, some pets might never be ready, willing or able for motorhome travel.

Routines
Some pets, especially dogs, tend to be creatures of habit. And an animal that is used to a certain life at home may not appreciate having to alter its schedule to accompany the family on motorhome trips. It might be better to leave the pet at home with a neighbor or friend. Consider your pet's welfare before bringing it along on a motorhome trip.

Space
Motorhome floor plans today are more spacious than ever. Pets accustomed to plenty of room to play inside at home, however, will need to adjust to the motorhome's tighter living quarters. City animals that like to romp in urban parks might not like to be out in open trail country. Conversely, country animals used to total freedom might not adjust to being "cooped up" in the RV.

Behavior
Is your pet well trained? Is it housebroken? Does it come when called? How well does it do on a leash? Does it greet visitors aggressively or with too much enthusiasm? Will it get motion sickness on longer trips? RV travel might exacerbate existing behavioral problems.

Campground manners and rules
Campgrounds and vacation spots expect your pet to be quiet. Some animals can become territorial about the motorhome and may bark at strangers or other animals walking past their "house." You'll rarely have a secluded campsite, so relentlessly noisy or aggressive animals are unwelcome.

Most, if not all, campgrounds expect your pet to remain on a leash when outside the RV. Will your pet be happy on a leash ALL the time, especially if it is used to meandering in a fenced-in yard at home?

Some campgrounds may not permit pets to be tied outside to picnic tables or nearby trees. Check with campgrounds in advance to become familiar with their facilities and pet regulations.

Be considerate
"We're tired of always having to watch where we step."
"We always have to listen to them bark, howl and yap."

Not all RVers are pet lovers. Most can at least tolerate them, however, IF pet owners are considerate. That means, for example, cleaning up pet waste, preventing the pet from making excessive noise, and keeping it on a leash when outside the motorhome.

A majority of FMCA commercial member campgrounds allow pets in their facilities. Inconsiderate pet owners, however, can lead parks, campgrounds and attractions to restrict or ban pets.

Left behind
Does your pet like to be alone? Some pets may bark, whine or howl incessantly when you leave them to go visit an attraction. Many vacation destinations will not permit pets.

In some national parks, pets are permitted only in parking lots and along roadways, and always on a leash. They're not allowed on most hiking trails, inside buildings or in the backcountry. There are exceptions, however. Visit the National Park Service Web site, www.nps.gov, for more info.

Temperatures
Pets can become uncomfortable in a motorhome during high summer or in cold weather. The temperature inside a closed RV can easily exceed 100 degrees on a hot day. Heat stroke kills many animals each year, simply because the owner left the animal inside an enclosed vehicle when the owner could not take him along.

Is it worth it?
Motorhoming with pets takes time and dedication. It means potty breaks and exercise time; packing toys, food, medicine, grooming items. It might mean having to locate a veterinarian while traveling, or spending less time at attractions so you can attend to your pet's needs.

But for many RVers, the companionship and enjoyment derived from traveling with pets override the extra considerations that pets require.

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