Traveling with a Dog
Biscuit is pretty much our child. We don't go very far without her, when possible. She is not a stranger to hopping in the car for a long trip, and is truly one of the best parts of our life together. Biscuit has moved across the country twice, and has been on a few long-haul vacations. Travelling with a dog isn't easy, but it's incredibly rewarding. Obviously, my tips are geared more towards running around with a 75-pound hefty baby, not a teeny chihuahua, so your needs might vary.
Biscuit and I originally drove out to Minneapolis in my little Chevy, also packed with all of my worldly belongings. She was really not pleased. It’s a 12-hour drive in good weather, but it was more like 16 this time because…winter. Seriously. That stretch of North Dakota between Jamestown and Fargo was a solid sheet of ice, and the speed limit was more like 40.
Mistake: Biscuit had never been in a car for more than three hours. This was a total and complete mistake. She wasn’t bad, but she was certainly distressed and restless. Perhaps the saddest thing was that she kept looking out the back window of the car at the highway behind us. She would do this for more than an hour at a time. Why are you taking me so far away??
Tip: Stop a lot. For me, on such a long trip, this was about every hour and a half to two hours. More often than the car needed gas, but not so often that progress to my destination was slow. When you're planning out how your trip needs to go make sure that it's comfortable for your dog, plan out where these stops need to be in advance.
Mistake: Trying to vacation in inclement weather. A little snow isn't an issue for me, but it's a nightmare when trying to bring a dog.
Tip: Try to schedule your trip around the weather. Our first big trip together, I drove out the day after a giant ice storm. I was smart and delayed that one whole day. But not smart enough to delay one more. Now that it's summer, my typically robust puppy is horrified at the idea of a thunderstorm. She doesn't care to drive in the rain, so that also limits the kinds of travels that I can do in the rain.
Mistake: Not planning a fairly active vacation.
Tip: If your dog is the kind of dog that loves to run, that needs to be part of your trip. Now living in Montana, and previously in Minnesota, we've had many opportunities to be in the outdoors with our dog. She's a fantastic hiker and loves to be outside. She doesn't like going shopping, or to restaurants. It would be fun to take her national parks, but not to explore Manhattan.
Mistake: Not researching places that are dog-friendly.
Tip: I often make reservations on the fly. Book a hotel from my car at 7pm. Can't do that when you're relying on somewherre that will also accept the dog. Most pet-friendly vacations can't be spontaneous. Plan accordingly.
Mistake: Feed your dog chicken nuggets. She is gonna get gassy in your tiny car.
Tip: Bring something your dog actually wants to eat, and is healthy. Special food maybe? maybe practice taking trips before a large trip so that your dog is used to the car for that long? Biscuit wasn’t eating. She had barely touched her food, and was losing interest in treats fast. In my desperation…the Golden Arches called. Biscuit loves some chicken nuggets. But then she smelled like she was excreting hot trash for the remaining three hours of drive. Great.
We've only had good trips, but Biscuit can be pretty stressed out about it. Always think about what your furry friend needs!
Do you travel with a dog? What are your tips and tricks?