Road trips. What anticipation! We save our money all year and count down the days until our road trips with Whiskey. Whether it be a long weekend, a week off, or several months on the road, trips by car let you meet and appreciate places like nothing else. We’ve loved roadtrips long before Whiskey joined our family, but everything is just so much more fun with a dog! Whiskey has been all the way up to Alaska and past the Arctic circle, and countless weekends away whenever we get the chance. However, there are lots of things to take into account and compromises we need to make in order to travel with our four-legged best friends.
First and foremost, make sure you and your pup are safe in the car! If your dog is excitable, a hard crate is the safest way for them to travel. There are also seatbelt devices or harnesses that can be attached to the back seat to keep them in place, but comfortable.
LEAVING YOUR PUP IN THE CAR
Sometimes simple tasks like getting groceries or going to a restaurant can be difficult when it’s a warm day. Cracking a window open just won’t cut it on hot days, as a car can rise in temperature quicker than you can order a coffee. Think about taking your pup out of the car for stops, eating at restaurants with dog-friendly patios, food trucks, and leaving your dog in view and in the shade outside the coffee shop. If there are more than one human, take turns!
There is a growing list of dog-friendly hotels, and of course, camping is wonderful for everyone involved. Private house rental websites like Airbnb are also easy to search for pet-friendly places and can be more flexible than hotels. Campervans and trailers allow you to bring your house with you without the hassle of a tent. We’ve converted several vans into living spaces over our years!
You might see the most Instagramable spots and want to drive straight there, but most National Parks are not very dog-friendly. Instead, check out the less busy and more dog-friendly National Forests right next to the Parks. Not only will you be able to bring Fido, but sometimes these gems are just as good and much less busy!
I’m actually really happy to have an excuse to make multiple stops on long drives and seek out some places I would have never visited because Whiskey needs a walk (or 5). We’ve seen some beautiful dog parks all around the U.S. and Canada, and lots of short beautiful trails between long hours of roads. Not only is it good to get out of a sitting position, but we also meet so many friendly locals and get lots of tips about where else to go!
Puppies can be prone to car sickness, and with exposure, this usually goes away. Whiskey was very car sick when she was young, and it took up to a year for it to go away. Not feeding for several hours before a drive, Ginger Gravol, and using a larger car with tight suspension seemed to help. We’ve been on so many trips since then, and she’s been wonderful!
Exposure to as much as possible when young (and a bomb-proof recall) is needed to be off leash in new areas, especially those so different than home. We’ve seen everything from bears to porcupines, all sorts of birds, snakes, and have even been charged by a moose! Not only are there predators to worry about, but it can be equally dangerous to have your dog chase a chipmunk off a cliff or a deer onto the road. Research and ask about what to avoid ahead of time.
Make sure your dog is vaccinated and check up on any outbreaks in the places you are visiting. For example, heartworm isn’t an issue where we live, but I’ll be getting medication for Whiskey before traveling down south. Ticks can carry diseases, so check your pup every day if you’re in an area where they are bad (yourself as well!)
You’ll likely need your rabies certificate and perhaps a certificate of health to pass some borders. Make sure you do your research so you don’t have an unfortunate change of plans!
Stay tuned for Roadtripping with Dogs: Part Two coming next month! Have you taken many road trips with your dogs? Where have you gone? What tips would you share?
Adele is a photographer, adventurer, visual effects artist, entrepreneur, and most importantly, mom to Whiskey. Whiskey is a Hungarian Vizsla, one of the most active breeds, and captain of all hiking, camping and roadtrip adventures. Follow their adventures on @mywhiskeygirl on Facebook and Instagram or their blog, The Dog Walks Me.