Valuable Tips for Road Tripping with Active Dogs
As a dog mom and a road trip enthusiast, I have learned a lot about traveling with dogs. In September 2017, me and my dog, Chance, set out for our first long road trip but beforehand I did a lot of research. This research meant spending days upon days googling everything under the sun about the 15 states we would venture through. Planning an 18 day road trip can be time consuming as it is, but adding the consideration of your dog's needs, it almost doubles the research. Let me tell you, I was a little surprised at the lack of specific information about traveling with dogs other than the driving part. I found loads of to-do's, and what not to-do's like stopping for breaks, giving your fur baby a nice comfortable ride, and valuable safety tips. What I didn't find was an abundance of resources on places that allow pets, whether it be restaurants, parks, hotels, or just a place for him to stretch his legs after driving for hours.
So for all the dog parents out there who love traveling with their best friend riding shotgun, I'm hoping I can reduce some planning time and stress by sharing some of my exhausting research and my travel go-to's via my top 10 picks for the most Valuable Tips for Road Tripping with Active Dogs:
1) Download "BringFido" app... RIGHT NOW. This app is a life saver to dog parents not only on the road, but locally too. I was able to find pet-friendly hotels, dog parks and restaurants that allow dogs in their outdoor seating areas, and even dog events that were happening in the area I was visiting. Pay attention to the ratings and comments on this app though just to help you make decisions on whether it's a place you want to go. I found I agreed with most of the people and their ratings. I also found that the map interaction to dog parks wasn't always precise, but the comments from other users usually helped us find our way. You can also access their website here.
2) Use Go Pet Friendly website. I accessed this when we stopped and I was able to use my laptop. I did not particularly like the mobile web version and I was unable to find an app in the apple store. One cool thing that I really liked on their site was a special feature specifically for road trips that maps out from/to destination points and you can locate businesses from 6 categories, including dog-friendly hotels and services. Check out their website here.
3) Go to Dog Parks. If your furry friend loves to interact with other dogs, I'm here to say there are some AMAZING dog parks across this country. We hit so many dog parks on our road trip that I swear Chance thought we were on the "Dog Parks Across America Tour". (Hmmm... that may be another blog I will tackle soon). Dog parks give them some great play time, but it also allows them to be off leash for a bit, especially when they've been restricted to the leash laws in most states.
4) Pack a long rope and a Carabiner. Chance and I camped a lot on our trip, so when we were at our site, I would rig up a zip line by tying the rope between two trees, attaching the carabiner to the rope and the handle on the leash which allowed him to have a semi-free roaming area without breaking any leash laws or scaring other campers with a loose dog. Make sure the rope is low enough to give some slack for lying down (and chasing bugs). I liked this much better than those tie out stakes for these three main reasons: 1) it does not get tangled up; 2) you can restrict it if you need to or make it longer between trees; and 3) it was easy to setup and take down without having to screw something into unpredictable ground surfaces. If you aren't camping, this could still be used at public parks or any area that has trees.
5) Download "Rover" app. There will be times you may want to venture out by yourself or go on hikes in areas that do not allow dogs on the trails (most National Parks do not). Or maybe you just want to relax at a spa. Whatever the case is, you will need to leave your dog. Most hotels request that you do not leave them alone in the rooms, so what other options do you have? That's where this app comes in very handy! You can find dog sitters, dog walkers, and doggie day cares in the area. So while you are on your solo adventure, your dog is enjoying an adventure of his own. AND ratings from other users will help guide you in making the right decision for those services. They also have a website here.
6) Good2Go No Spill Dog Bowl. This was such a great find at Petco for $9.99. It road safely in the back with Chance and I could hear him drinking from time to time while we were driving which made me feel good about my purchase decision. I also like that the top comes off making it easy to clean.
7) Prepare for all weather conditions. This seems like a no brainer to us as we pack our own bags, but think about the climates in your destination spots for your fur baby too. We left in September from Nashville where it was beautiful fall weather, but we experienced every season as we drove across state lines into the most northern state of Montana. There was about 15 inches of snow and Chance did not have his winter coat. So I brought a nice warm doggie sweater for him just in case.
8) Pack His Favorite Toy. I got really lucky that Chance loves to ride and never gets anxious on road trips, but I also know that driving long hours can be tiresome. So, it's nice having a little piece of "home" with him. His favorite toy at the time was this weird looking blue octopus thing that he proudly carried around in his mouth almost everywhere on our trip. He is known for destroying toys almost immediately so I was super excited that it lasted the full 18 days... but sadly only one more when we got home. RIP Mr. Octopus, we had a good run!
9) Take a Chuckit! Ball Launcher. If you are a dog parent of an active dog and have not heard of this amazing product, you can pick one up at any pet store! Since I'm an early riser, there were times we would arrive at a dog park before anyone else and the Chuckit! was an awesome way for me to interact with Chance to wear him out without wearing myself out for the long drive ahead of us.
10) Bring more than one dog accessory. If your dog loves the water and/or mud, it's highly likely that his collar and leash may need to be changed out from time to time. I wished I would have brought a water proof collar on our trip, but that's a tip for myself for the next one. I did bring two older collars for him to wear during our more active outdoor adventures. Also bring several towels just for your swimming buddy! Nothing like him shaking out his coat in the back seat spraying you in the face while you're going 70 mph down the road. (Lesson learned! Towels brought)
Road tripping with your dog can be one of the best experiences you'll have if you plan appropriately, try to stick to his normal active routine and consider him an equal partner in the fun!
If you liked my tips or have other tips that I didn't list, please comment!
Until then... Keep Wandering!
DON'T FORGET TO ENTER MY GIVEAWAY GOING ON THROUGH JUNE 15, 2018
If you enjoyed this blog, I invite you to read how I met my traveling companion here.
Cover photo: National Bison Range. Charlo, MT