Many RVers take their pets with them while traveling. Unfortunately, that can create a lot of unexpected opportunities for your pets to get lost. But there are steps you can take to prevent a lost pet, and find them if they do get lost.
RVers have unique challenges when it comes to pet safety. These include frequently being in unfamiliar surroundings, and unknown dangers, such as coyotes and bears, as well as traffic.
A big mistake some RVers can make, is becoming complacent with their animal’s behavior. They assume their pet never wanders away, always comes when called, always gets along with other dogs, or never bites. An unfamiliar environment might “spook” a dog, causing him to bolt. Dogs also follow their noses, with new, enticing scents, until they are lost. Their prey drive could kick in, and they could run off after a rabbit. Even worse, they could cross paths with a coyote, wolf or bear.
A normally friendly dog may not react as they usually do. Often, a feeling of stress and apprehension about a new place could threaten your dog, and they might lash out unexpectedly at strange people or pets.
Some practical advice for all RVers who travel with pets
Microchip your pets, and immediately register the microchip with your contact information. Immediately report as lost if your pet escapes, and call the chip registry to make sure the chip information is up to date.
When you are at a rest stop or a store parking lot, always close the door after you. If you are unloading groceries, close the door before you go back to the shopping cart for more bags. Never assume your pet will not slip out when you’re not looking.
Always keep your pet on a leash while at the RV park, and be cautious when approaching other dogs. Watch both your dog’s body language, as well as the other dog, and ask the other dog owners if their dog is friendly. If either your dog, or the other dog’s body language does not seem friendly, walk away.
If you have a very active dog that needs to run off-leash, use your situational awareness on the trail. Scan ahead for other hikers or animals, and call your dog back if you see any potential danger up ahead. Carry some dog treats, and develop a special “treat call”. Dogs with “selective hearing” will often run back if they get a treat. Also, mid-morning may be the best time for off-leash runs; it’s not too hot, the snakes are still sleeping, and the coyotes may have gone home for the night. That is not 100%, always use your own common sense! In areas with bears and cougars, or a lot of coyotes, keep your dog leashed at all times.
A Marco Polo tracking system is a radio tracking device, that does not require a cell phone signal, which can be important in rural areas with weak or no cell coverage. The Marco Polo can be an invaluable tool if you have an active dog that runs off-leash. It’s also good for a dog who slips out the door unexpectedly. There’s no monthly subscription fee for the Marco Polo. It can be used for up to three pets, with additional collar trackers. It consists of a hand held unit, and a small signal device to attach to your pet’s collar or harness. The unit has rechargeable batteries. These stay charged for up to 6 weeks, while continuously monitoring.
Keeping your pet in a crate or carrier can be safer while driving. It will prevent them from distracting you while driving. Many dogs will find comfort in their “cave”, and simply fall asleep. You can also get calming treats for both cats and dogs, to take the nervous edge off traveling, and keep them calm and happy.