A Day in the Life of a … …Dog owning Work Camper

Work Camping is a significant life change. You’re still working but “home” is different. Space is limited – very limited. So you have to decide what’s important to have with you and what is not. In our case, we’ve got a 10-year-old dog, we take with us. Since many people travel with their dogs,  you’ll find that most campgrounds allow dogs. Most resorts have fenced in  “Bark Parks” where you can take “Rover” for a little off the leash exercise.  Most have the bags and trash cans there so you can clean up after them too.

If you travel with a dog now you probably already know some of the plans you have to make and the issues you have to deal with. But, if you’re just now thinking about traveling with a dog, here are some things to consider.  Most of this we’ve learned from traveling with our 10-year-old, 85-pound Weimeraner.   

sarge

Let’s start with getting to your destination.  We have a motorhome and pull our vehicle behind it.  Our dog travels in the motorhome with us.  With the slides in, there’s not a whole lot of moving around room.  He’s big. Here’s a picture of him. You can see he takes up a lot of room.  We put out a blanket he can lay on and we put his water and food bowl where he can get to it.    It’s a good idea not to fill the water bowl too full.  I prefer to have a gallon jug of water and just put little bits of water at a time into it.  We don’t put too much in his food bowl either because it’s not easy to clean up the spills. And there definitely will be spills!

You have to pay attention to him/her too so you know when they’re telling you they need to go out.  In our case, most of the time, he’s ok to go out when we stop for the “potty break” but not all the time.  Ours is pretty good at letting us know, but it took us a little while to learn his signs.  Roadside parks are usually the best place to stop but sometimes he lets us know after we just pass one.  We always have a “poop scooper” with us so we can clean up any messes he makes. No one wants to step in dog poop! 

This is the one we usually use.  Sometimes it’s easier to carry the bags

Then you have to think about stopping for lunch or dinner somewhere.   Our dog does pretty well for the hour or two when we leave him in the camper while we go in to eat in a restaurant, but he’s an older dog.  I don’t want to think about what he would have done as a puppy.   We don’t do it that often and we try not to do it if it is very hot outside since we don’t leave the engine running when we go in so the air conditioning is not on. We don’t want to take a chance that he would knock the gear shifter into drive and run into something or someone. We have found it too cumbersome to try to put a crate for him in the motorhome when we’re traveling.

If you have to stay overnight on the way to your destination, you may want to call ahead to find a campground where dogs are allowed.  Most do, but not all. And very few hotels will allow dogs and if they do there’s a pretty high extra charge.

When you get to your Work Camping destination the first thing that usually happens is you find the campground manager and let them know you’re here.  Your site should have been already assigned, so after you meet and visit with them for a little while, it’s time to go get set up.   Since you’re going in and out of your camper, your dog wants to do the same. They want to check out the area too.  The first thing you end up doing is finding a way to either tether them to something or finding a way to keep them in the camper.  Ours usually gets leashed to a tree or picnic table.   And of course, right away, he needs to or fools us into thinking he needs to go for a walk.

Once we’re all set up and begin working, there are still some things we have to think about. When we’re working, we have to make sure we go back to the camper at lunch or break times, to take him outside for a short time.   For a little while, we worked away from our home that had a fenced in backyard. To find a way for him to spend more time outside, we purchased one of those outside 8×8 kennels like you can get at tractor supply.  On the chance that we could use it at our Work Camp location, we took it apart and attached it to our bike rack on the back of the motorhome and was able to bring it with us.  Our dog, Sarge, can stay outside in that for a little while alone.   It’s probably not a good idea to leave him alone in it too often or too long for several reasons. It can get too hot, a rainstorm could come up, and since it’s not locked, someone may open the gate and let him out.  One thing to be really careful about is wild animals.  Lots of areas have coyotes. Some areas even have bears.

One of the benefits of work camping is that you get to explore new areas.  We like to go on hikes, visit new cities or tourist attractions, try new restaurants, just do as many things as we can.   Sarge can go on most hikes with us, but you can’t just take bottled water like we would normally do.  You also have to take a bowl.  Right now we’re looking at getting a collapsible bowl.  I saw this one online and was thinking about getting it, but haven’t quite decided yet.

We like that it has the carabiner so that it could hook to a backpack or belt or something. It would be much better if he could carry it himself.   We also carry the doggie poop bags.

The bad part about this is that we can’t decide to just stay overnight somewhere on a whim like we would like to do.

Another consideration is veterinarian care.  We’ve found the best we can do is try to get recommendations from local people on where to take him when shots are due or an illness develops.  Recently, we had to find an after-hours vet because of a sudden illness and the one we found online was an hour away, but if we were more knowledgeable we may found one closer.

Our dog is 10 years old, and we would not dream of getting rid of him.  But we’ve agreed, as long as we’re traveling we will not have another pet. Instead of being resentful of having him or not doing things we would like to do we decided to bite the bullet and pay to board him whenever we wanted to go somewhere. We also board him when we have company stay with us. He just takes up so much room. One of the first things we did was check out a few boarding facilities.  So now, when we want to go somewhere, we try to make it a two-day outing so we can board him and go to several places. It does get a little costly, though.

My intent with this post is not to discourage you from traveling or work camping with your pets. I just want you to know that some planning ahead is going to be required.   So, plan ahead, just go, and enjoy your adventure whether it’s work camping or just traveling.

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