A million thoughts must go through your head when leaving your dog alone in your RV. How is your pup dealing with his separation anxiety during your absence? Does your dog get scared easily? Will he get you kicked out of the campground when you get back due to his constant barking? Is he ripping down the walls in your camper? Will you actually have an RV left when you return? All these questions must be going through your mind while you’re away from your camper.
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We all know busy campgrounds and RV parks are chocked full of unknowns; from unfamiliar noises to seeing people your dog doesn’t know just inches from your camper.
Kids are zooming past your RV; laughing and screaming. Your neighbor is chopping wood while playing some bizarre music a little too loud. And that loud diesel motor your dog hears across from your RV? Well, that isn’t the sound of your truck and he’s getting darn upset about it!
A combination of all this strange commotion is magnified which results in your dog reacting negatively when your dog is left alone in your RV, let alone anywhere for that matter.
Then when you do return, you both are at the end of your rope. Not only has he chewed his feet, but also your window blinds and whatever else he could sink his teeth in. He’s scared and you’re pissed at him for it.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are ways to help your dog cope during your absence. Having been former dog owners ourselves who have had dogs with serious separation anxiety, we’ll share some great tips to help earn him the good dog award while you’re away from your RV.
Leaving Your Dog Alone in Your RV? Dog Separation Anxiety Tips
What is Dog Separation Anxiety?
Dogs are highly prone to separation anxiety. I mean, think about it. Their world revolves around you. The want nothing more than to hang out with you, go and explore with you and do things together. When that changes, even for an hour, their world (to them) seems to fall apart.
However, there’s times you have to leave your pup behind; whether it’s to go exploring, out to eat, date night, for a bike ride or even just to the neighbor’s campsite.
When you first take your dog into your motorhome or camper, it’s a whole new world to them. There’s so many different things your dog must contend with; new sights, unfamiliar sounds and strange smells.
But those new experiences may lead him to new levels of anxiety. Then, add in you leaving your dog in the RV alone, it will heighten their separation anxiety.
Visible signs of dog anxiety:
- Excessive chewing
- Shivering and shaking
- Sadness or Fearful look
- Ears folded back
- Tucked in Tail
- Restless pacing
- Potty accidents
This is why it’s important to know how to read and understand your dog and his shortcomings. His emotional responses will help you understand his anxiety and shortcomings. Once you address your dog’s anxiety, he will be much more comfortable and relaxed during your absence.
So, let’s get on with some ways to help his separation anxiety BEFORE leaving your dog alone in your RV.
Walk and Outdoor Playtime
Always let your pup out to do his business before leaving your dog alone in your camper. But also it’s important to give your pup a little outside playtime or brisk walk to burn off energy and excitement.
Besides, it’s a known fact that a walk and exercise helps minimize stress; for you and your dog. And, it gives you and your dog some great private bonding time.
Provide a comfortable stress-free environment for your dog
Create a comfortable den
Instead of allowing your dog to have free reign of the RV, try confining him to one room such as the bedroom or the living area.
This will help contain your dog a little more; thus, limiting stress factors such as unfamiliar noises coming from other rooms. It will also help prevent your dog from making big messes or destroying your RV because he’s over-stressed.
Crate train your dog
Although the best time to crate train a dog is when he’s a puppy. Most dogs will take to a crate if trained properly.
A dog crate will become your pup’s home away from home. Even if you’re back at the RV, you may find that your dog prefers his little safe haven to take a nap, get away from commotion and go when he feels stressed.
Just make sure he’s got a clean non-spill water bowl with fresh water, a favorite snuggle toy, chew toy and a nice comfy dog bed to relax. Make certain there are no buttons, strings, zippers or snaps on anything that your dog can chew off and choke on.
Also, when we’d crate our Corgi, we’d point a small battery operated fan to circulate air into his crate to help keep him cool on hot days. This was also reassurance for us just in case the air conditioner would malfunction or our power would go out.
Once your dog understands that his crate is his safe space, he’ll feel more secure.
A nice dog bed to sleep
While you may not mind sharing your bed with your dog, sometimes their separation anxiety may literally scare the “3 P’s” out of him! (puke, pee and poop).
So, spend a little money and get him his own comfortable dog bed. But, make sure it fits his entire body and cushions his body.
In addition to providing a plushy dog bed, you may want to look into a pet cooling mat also.
Close the window shades
Dogs are great defenders of their territory, home, and family. When your pup hears something amiss or sees unfamiliar people right outside of your RV, he will go nuts in a matter of seconds.
Not only will he bark to show his disdain, he’ll most likely rip off the shades or blinds and anything else in his way.
So, by closing your RV’s window shades will help create a distraction-free, calming place for your dog.
Shed some light
According to Rover (The Dog People), canines have incredible night vision. In fact, their eyesight is better than ours.
However, in unfamiliar places with dancing shadows and sweeping tree branches, your dog may become scared of the dark which can heighten their anxiety. If your he has vision problems, darkness can be even more frightening for them while your dog is alone in your RV.
So, leave a small table lamp for them; even in the daytime in case there’s chance you may run late into the night.
Also, it will help your dog see his food and water bowls. But equally important, a soft light will allow your dog see your happy face when you come through the door!
Turn on some white noise
There’s a few ways you can generate white noise to drown out sounds outside your RV. Turn on the television or radio.
Pick a relaxing radio station or tv channel that doesn’t have loud or sharp sounds. But don’t make it too loud as dogs do have sensitive ears. But also so your campsite neighbors can’t hear it.
Or, you may want to look into getting a white noise machine. You can choose from digitally-recorded relaxing nature sounds like ocean waves, soft rain, forest sounds, birds, and babbling brooks. Their sounds are designed to mimic the natural environment in order to provide a relaxing experience for your anxious dog.
Turn on the AC
As we talked about in a previous article on how to keep your pets cool in your RV, one of the best ways to drown out noises outside of your RV is to turn on your air conditioner. Adding to creating white noise, your AC will make them comfortable and more relaxed while your dog is alone in your RV.
RV Pro Tip: Keep your RV air conditioner in top notch working order with our Annual RV Air Conditioner Maintenance & Cleaning Tips
Use a circulating fan
You can get the same white noise effect of your RV air conditioner by turning on a small fan near their sleeping area. A fan will not only help drown out noises, but also circulate the air and help make it more comfortable for your dog to rest.
RV Pro Tip: You don’t have to worry about your electricity going out by using one of these 10 Best Battery Powered Rechargeable Fans for RVs & Camping
Anxiety Medicines & Holistic Remedies
If your dog is typically super nervous (more than typical), you may want to seek professional advice from your dog’s Veterinarian. She may prescribe your dog low dose anxiety medication.
However, it’s understandable to not wanting to drug him every time you leave your dog alone in your RV.
Instead, try diffusing a specialized pet calming essential oil blend topically or aromatically in an essential oil diffuser. Or, another option is Rescue Remedy specially formulated for pets.
However, I do highly suggest trying them while you are home before leaving your dog alone in your RV. This is so you can monitor how they react to any pet calming remedies.
Swaddle your dog
You’ve heard that swaddling babies helps to calm them. Well, swaddling your dog helps does the same thing. Get in the habit of putting on his Thunder Shirt.
Thunder Shirts are highly recommended by veterinarians and trainers as they help minimize stress in dogs during thunder, fireworks, separation anxiety, travel and vet visits. It’s a safe and drug-free solution. A dog anxiety jacket calms with no training and no medication so your dog stays totally drug-free
Provide some dog treats
There’s that saying, “never go to bed hungry”. That applies to your best friend as well. Setting your dog up with a prescribed number of calming dog treats will help cure those hunger pangs that can be triggers for their anxiety.
Occupy your dog
Our RVing friends bought their pup a fun interactive dog puzzle feeder that helps release anxiety using dog treats or small kibble.
Their pup finds their snacks by sliding different parts of the puzzle. And, it helps the dog release stress; at the same time, encourages them to problem solve. All of which helps pass time and keeps the dog occupied.
Another idea is to get an interactive snuffle mat. It will help occupy him by hiding treats for him to find.
Give your dog a bone
Leave your dog a few of his favorite chew toys to help calm his nervousness. They’ll also give him something to do other than eyeing your slippers, books or furniture.
Just make certain all dog toys are sturdy and won’t fall apart. You don’t want your dog chewing off bits, swallowing or choking on them; especially while your dog is alone in your RV. Also make sure dog toys are age and size appropriate.
Having a pet monitor in your RV will allow you to watch your dog (or cat) via bluetooth on your smartphone. However, you will need a WiFi connection on both ends to be able to see them.
You may want to look into getting a temperature monitor also. Should your RV’s interior temperature get too hot or cold, you will be alerted though your smartphone.
Some popular temperature monitors RVers use:
Praise your dog for guarding the home
Also, another great tip is to keep a couple reward dog treats in your pocket. So, when you come through the door after him being left alone, you can praise and reward him for being a good watch dog.
But even if he wasn’t, don’t scold him harshly or hit him. Being left alone in an RV in familiar places for a dog is hard. He doesn’t understand the constant change of scenery, noises and commotion. Just give him love and understanding.
How to Introduce Your Dog to Being Left Alone
Everything around your dog heightens his anxiety; especially in unfamiliar surroundings. My best advice is, whether you’re leaving your dog in your RV or even your home, don’t leave them for excessive periods of time. Especially don’t leave them longer than what they can handle.
Always set everything up as if you’re going for all day. Get your dog used to the routine. Start with short absences.
Step out and go for a short walk around the campground for 10-15 minutes while he stays alone in your RV. Slowly work your way to 30 minutes and then an hour. See how he does in short time spans.
Once your dog knows that nothing is going to hurt him while you’re away, you both will have a positive alone-time experience.
Wrapping up these helpful tips for leaving your dog alone in your RV
As you see, there’s a plethora of great ideas on how to help your dog relax while your away from your RV:
- Create a soft and comfortable safe haven for your dog.
- Turn on the radio, television or sound machine to drown out the external sounds.
- Eliminate outside distractions by closing the shades or curtains But also to darken the room to make it a more calming environment.
- Add a small soft light so your dog is not alone in the dark.
- Make sure your dog has ample fresh water, food and/or snacks.
- Provide a chew toy and a comfy place to nap while you’re gone.
- Introduce and practice being gone to get your dog accustomed to being alone in your RV or camper.
Your take away from this is to make your dog as comfortable as possible so you both won’t be anxious. Your voice is music to his ears. Tell him you’ll be back soon. And always praise him for being a good dog, even if he had an accident.
Anytime you leave your dog alone in your RV, give him the best so he doesn’t worry the worst.
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