10 Tips for Tailgating with Man’s Best Friend
Both Amanda and I, and many of our tailgating cohorts, can often be found at tailgates with our four-legged friends, life’s best RV tailgate accessory. Just like any member of the family, they are welcome in the RV and at the tailgate. People say that one of the reasons I got Starter RV was so that the dog could tailgate with us and I didn’t have to cut my tailgate time short to go home to let the dog out. Honestly, they are probably more right than they are wrong.
Burdell, my “generic brown dog,” was named after the Georgia Tech legend George P. Burdell. He’s a mutt of around 75 pounds that loves to people watch. You can often find him in the front windshield of the RV, catching some rays and laughing at the entertainment of his two-legged friends. Burdell loves his RV tailgate weekends, but it does require some extra work and planning on my part.
Here are 10 tips to help you have a better tailgate experience with man’s best friend:
Before You Leave Home
- Maintain Vet Records and Contact Information: Keep a copy of your dog’s latest shots and other vet records in the RV. I recommend an actual paper copy, in case you need to provide to a vet or other person quickly. It is also wise to keep a copy available to you online (Dropbox, Gmail or other web-based email, server) in case something happens to your RV or your dog literally eats the records.
Make sure he has his rabies vaccine tag on his collar. To help in case he gets lost, make sure that he has an ID tag with his name and your cell phone number. Don’t put your home phone number on his tag – you won’t be home to answer the home phone if someone calls there. Registered microchips are also valuable, giving rescuers your contact information in case your dog loses the collar with the ID tag. These are especially important if you are traveling to away games or on vacation. Speaking of collars, we are a fan of reflective collars, similar to the one linked here from Orvis.Keep up to date on your dog’s flea and tick prevention medications. There will be no escaping fleas if you get an infestation in your RV. Yet another reason to go with laminate flooring.
- Know Where Your Dog Isn’t Welcome: Some campgrounds and tailgate locations are not dog-friendly. Make sure you review the rules before you leave home. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same outlook as we do when it comes to our four-legged family members. Sometimes, you will need to leave them home or make other arrangements for their care.
- Dog Food Storage: Since you only need to bring a weekend’s worth of food, small plastic air tight containers work great for keeping things organized and cleaned up. I usually have enough room over the food to throw in a bone, some treats, and even a toy or two. Burdell loves that his toys and bones taste like his food and treats. It also gives him something to chew on and leave my stuff alone.
- Give the Dog a Bath: Take the time to give your dog a bath and brush him thoroughly. All the dog’s normal smells are going to be even more potent in the small space of your RV and the hair will be everywhere. Minimize this with a bath and brush.
Tailgating with your Dog
- Limit His Freedom: Burdell can be easily distracted (hey look! squirrel!). I generally keep him on a six-foot leash at all times, even when he is inside the RV. Too many people are coming and going, allowing escape if everyone is not paying attention. The leash makes it easier to catch him before he goes off on a hunt. When I want to give him more freedom (but not too much), I’ve found that a thirty-foot leash is quite useful. It allows him to patrol the area immediately surrounding Starter RV and greet all visitors while not getting so far away that he is in other people’s tailgate setup. Many schools and campgrounds will require your dog to be on a leash at all times he is outside your RV.
- Stay Organized and Clean: Now you have more reasons than just ants to keep everything organized and cleaned up. One tailgate, I was a little lazy in keeping all the food up and out of his reach. I came back to find that breakfast, 3 large blueberry muffins, were gone, wrappers and all. Fortunately, Burdell had no digestive problems that night (that would have been HORRIBLE! in such a small space), but I did miss out on breakfast.
You’ll also have to spend more time cleaning, just from the dog hair and dirt they bring with them. If you are looking to buy an RV or looking to renovate yours, I highly recommend that you look for something with laminate or similar “hard” floors instead of carpet. So much easier to clean, especially after a rainy tailgate in a field (looking at your Clemson and Charlotte/ACC Championship Game).
- Be a Considerate Neighbor: When you are at the tailgate, make sure that you pick up after your dog and minimize their impact on your neighbors. Keep barking to a minimum. We tend to go to the same schools every few years, so you don’t want them to ban pets for future trips.
During the Game and Travel
- Business Time: Remember to take your dog for a walk and let them do their “business” before you start down the road or go to the game. You want to make sure your dog is comfortable and no messes happen when you aren’t there to take care of it.
- It’s a Crate Life: Because he can be a rascally creature, up to no good, a crate is a good thing for when we are at the games or away from the RV for long periods of time (don’t worry, I leave the AC running for him when it is hot). The prior owners of Starter RV had already removed the dinette, leaving open space. I found a crate that fit perfectly between two built-in blocks (housing electrical and supporting joints) which also prevents it from moving during transport.
Burdell also has the fortunate luck of spending time in the crate while I’m driving. He thinks he is a lapdog, all 75 pounds of him, and that’s not a good idea to get while I’m driving down the road. Nothing like a giant hunk of metal careening down the interstate while your dog settles into your lap.
- Know Your Dog: Is your dog a runner? Does he or she not like other dogs or certain types of dogs (small, large, yappy, etc)? Burdell is cool with other people but he only likes a small subset of other dogs. To avoid a mishap with other dogs, I generally keep him away from other dogs unless I know the other dogs and think their temperments will match well enough, and I always supervise when he is outside the RV. No one has time to deal with a vet visit during a tailgate weekend, so avoid such situations if possible.
What are your tips for tailgating with man’s best friend? Comment below!
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