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Life on the road can be a solitary experience but having a best friend along the way can truly make all the difference when it comes to the pleasures of owning a VW Bus. The Buslife was born with our furry friends in mind; the bounty of nature, the rolling hills, windswept beaches, and endless campfires and hikes all add up to bone-a-fide dog heaven.

Before making any travel decisions though, it is very important to take into account whether the experience will be good for your non-human buddy. For example, many dogs can become distressed when they are removed from their territory and placed somewhere new. Just as much as it takes you a little time to get used to a new place, it does for a dog too. Take this into account before heading out on adventures.

Once your dog is settled into the new home, it’s time to get going. However, bringing your pooch on a Buslife adventure isn’t always hillside happiness, there are a few pre-planning challenges, tips, and techniques that also need to be considered. From keeping pups cool to keeping your VW Bus hair-free, these are our tips for bringing your dog along for the ride.

Keep your dog cool

The most important rule of thumb when traveling with pets in tow is to think about the temperature. We’ve all heard the mantra that dogs die in hot cars and even a VW bus can crank up the heat pretty fast. One of the most important factors for dogs in campervans is that you keep air circulating.

Take your dog with you

If you plan to leave your VW Bus during the day, the best possible solution is to simply take your dog with you. However, there are some places that do not allow dogs, so of course, from time to time you will have to leave your dog. At this point, you must make sure that the temperature in your VW Bus doesn’t get too high.

Keep to the shade

Parking in the shade is a great first step to keeping your VW Bus cool. If you can, parking full shade is best, because direct sunlight on the metal exterior will cause the temperature to rise rapidly. It’s important to be aware of the movement of the shady area too. Just because there is shade when you park, that doesn’t mean it will be shady in a few hours.

Crack a window

In some places where you travel, simply cracking a window might be enough to keep a decent ambient temperature. On the flip side, summer days can get extremely hot and a closed VW Bus can be dangerous. If you plan to travel to very hot countries, such as parts of Africa, South America, or Australia, you might need to take extra precautions.

Extractor fans and other accessories

Extractor fans, such as this Maxxair Vent, are a level up from cracking the window. These electric fans will suck warmth and humidity from your bus and make it much cooler. A reflective sunshade for the windscreen is a handy accessory to carry along with you too. There are also a number of cooling mats for dogs on the market. This cooling mat from Microcosmos has many happy customers!

If you do have to leave your dog at home for extended periods of time, take these precautions and make sure to check in on them regularly. Keep their water bowl full and give them snacks and cuddles when you pop in.

Keep your dog and bus clean

Muddy paws, shedding hair, and rolling in far from fair scents – while dogs bring plenty of love, they come with some messy challenges. Keeping your VW Bus interior spotless may be a little more stressful with a dog in tow, but a few small items go a long way in helping you to keep your camper fresh and clean.

Brush down daily

A dedicated dog towel is a must when it comes to wiping down muddy feet after a long and rambling walk. A dustpan and brush used daily will also help you to sweep out collected dog hair and dust. A daily brush of your pet’s coat is not only amazing for bonding but will dramatically reduce the amount your dog sheds inside your home on wheels. Another plus is that removing excess hair will help keep your dog cool!

Encourage airflow

For getting rid of that dog scent we suggest a daily airflow – either by sunroof, vent, or cracked window. Foraging fresh herbs, or burning essential oils can help to mask any nasty smell that occurs.

Designated area

As much as we love to give our furry friends the freedom they deserve, you might find it easier to maintain a clean home by having some dog-free areas. The bed is a perfect example. Duvets and pillows are great at capturing stray hairs and dirt and will instantly get dirty if your dog gets up there. Keeping this space clean while allowing your dog to mess up other, easier-to-clean areas will help a lot in the long run!

Magic medicines for dogs

For travelers who are crossing borders with their VW Bus and pooch, you will need to ensure your pet passport and vaccinations are all up to date. No matter where in the world you are traveling with your dog, having a few dog-friendly medicines on hand can keep tails wagging. A probiotic specially designed for dogs will keep upset stomachs at bay, charcoal tablets on hand are also a lifesaver should your dog eat something toxic on the road, and flea and tick treatment (whether medical or natural deterrent) is a must to keep everyone itch-free, healthy and happy. You can refer to our pet first aid article for more on this topic.

Be mindful

Whether you wild camp or stay on five-star campsites, make sure that you stay mindful for both your dog and other peoples sakes. Keep your dog on the leash when parked up around other people as not everyone is comfortable making friends with Fido. Always pack plenty of disposable bags for cleaning up mess, and if your dog tends to bark the night away, park a respectful distance away from other campers so not to disrupt the peace.

Out and about with your dog

A tired dog is a happy dog, and the last thing you want when cooped up in a camper is a boundless ball of energy.  One of the purest pleasures of being a Buslifer is the fact that every day brings new faces and new places, so be sure to get out and explore. Having a dog at your side can also be a super social experiment; from dog parks to pet-friendly cafes – dogs encourage you to leave the confines of your bus every day and meet new people.

We hope this guide to bringing your dog on the road is valuable! If you are interested in learning more about Buslife you might like to check out Border Crossings in 2021: Your Ultimate Guide.

Jodie Oakes
Author: Jodie Oakes

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