Blitz and I have covered some serious miles together. From our home in North Carolina, we’ve stayed in South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, Ohio, Kansas, Colorado, and a variety of states in-between. In our almost 4 years of traveling together, I have picked up on some tricks to make it as smooth as possible.
· Crate your dog – This is hands down my biggest recommendation for traveling. All dogs should be crate trained which means they should all feel comfortable and relaxed in their crate. This goes a long way for long days in the car! Keeping them confined can help eliminate anxiety from them moving around (which also helps with car sickness). Riding in the crate is much, much safer than riding loose in the car. I regularly hear about people getting in a car accident, their dog getting loose at the scene and taking off out of fear. A lose dog in an unfamiliar city would be an absolute nightmare! Crating is also great for when you have to stop somewhere that isn’t dog friendly. This keeps them safe in the car and prevents them from being destructive while you aren’t around.
· Stop for potty breaks at low traffic areas – Rest stops can be a breeding found for all sorts of parasites, so I always stop at low traffic areas for potty breaks. Restaurants and small gas stations are usually great options! Make sure your leash and poop bags are easily accessible! I typically stop every 3-4 hours, more for puppies <10 weeks old. At these stops I offer the dogs water, but they typically don’t drink much. I will often bring bone broth to put on their food to help keep them hydrated while traveling. Although I never recommend retractable leashes for walking, they do come in handy for potty breaks while traveling! If you'll be traveling overnight, be sure to bring a flashlight with you, too.
· Plan ahead – When going on a long trip, I like to plan ahead for areas to stretch our legs. The first time I went to Kansas, I calculated that Knoxville was about halfway between home and our first AirBNB. I reached out to a friend who lives in Knoxville and she recommended a perfect, beautiful park for us to stretch our legs. It broke up the traveling and helped keep Blitz content! I also use All Trails App frequently when traveling. If Blitz starts to get restless, I will search nearby trails and stop for a quick walk. I have found some really neat little gems of a park this way!
· Packing tips – If I am going to be traveling for a few days, I will pack what I need for those few days separately from everything else for the trip. This allows me to just take my “overnight bag” in and not have to unload my whole suitcase. Things I bring for the dogs are: portioned out meals, a water and food bowl, any collars/leashes I might need, a towel for their crate, my battery-operated fan for the crate, and typically a few bully sticks/cow ears. I also always have a bag of cleaning supplies in my car, which includes baby wipes, Clorox wipes, hand towels, paper towels, disinfectant spray, and grocery bags for a trash bag. With dogs, you never know when you might need to clean something up and having the right supplies makes it significantly less stressful!
I also pack a first aid kit to keep in the car. In this kit I have a thermometer, antibiotic spray and ointment, gauze, vet wrap, electrical tape, eye rinse, rubber booties, Benadryl, NSAIDs, probiotics, tick tweezers, and more disinfectant wipes. Thankfully I haven’t had to use it much, but with all the hiking we do I think it is really important to have!
· Finding a place to stay – I am a really big fan of AirBNBs. There are plenty of dog-friendly ones and they are usually quieter than most hotels. I also love staying new places and getting great local recommendations from the hosts! I make sure to find places that pets are allowed and I always message the host prior to booking and let them know I will be traveling with my dog. I include her breed, age, and that she is professionally trained and well-behaved. I have had a lot of great luck with hosts being super pet-friendly, but I never want anyone to be surprised that I will have my dog with me!
While at the AirBNB, I do my best to be as respectful as possible. I always wipe paws at the door, clean up any mess after my dog (inside and out!), and if she’s going to be on any furniture, I put a towel or blanket dog to help keep it clean. Finally, I never leave my dog unattended (she is always with me or crated). Blitz is absolutely fantastic, but as a trainer, I know that dogs will behave differently in new, and especially stressful environments. For instance, dogs will not chew their bed at home but will often chew it while boarding. Please do not assume your dog will behave just as well as he does at home – respect the owner’s home and keep them crated or attended at all times.
· What to do - There are so many dog-friendly activities, no matter where you go! There are always coffee shops, restaurants and breweries that have dog-friendly patios. Bring Fido is a great website for finding dog-friendly places and AllTrails App has a filter for dog friendly hiking trails. If I am doing something that doesn't involve my dogs, I will be sure to leave them crated at the AirBNB.
Collars (with ID tags)
First aid kit
Traveling with dogs can be a super great time if you plan ahead! Having a well-trained pup (good with being in the crate, heel walks, place work and down stays) will make it the most enjoyable experience for you both!