Choosing where to stay can be critical for having a successful trip. Overall, for never having been to any of these locations, we planned our accommodations well. However, we stayed in a couple of places that were just a bit too far from the park to make driving in and out easy. If I did it again I would stay as close to the park as possible (we were only a few minutes drive into Zion and Arches vs. 30 minutes from the entrance to Glacier and Yellowstone). An option we will likely explore next year will be staying in the parks in a camper van to cut our travel times. Read on to learn more about picking a location, along with food considerations for your pup.
Food and packing can either cause frustration or be something you don’t even have to worry about on the trip. Here are some tips on dealing with diet and packing.
Make any food switches beforehand: I feed a diet made up of half raw food and half kibble. I knew I didn’t want to deal with feeding raw on the road so I started switching them over to a dehydrated raw two months before the trip. This way there was no digestive upset from an abrupt change when traveling.
Bring enough food for emergencies where you may have to spend extra days in a location. While some dog foods are available everywhere, I have been in many towns that don’t have a good selection and abrupt food changes can be hard on your dog.
Store your food, treats, and chews in a large plastic bin so your dog can’t get to them, and other items can easily be stacked on top. It’s nice to have everything dog related in one place in the car so you can feel organized.
Make sure you bring any flea/tick or heartworm medication if you are going to be on an extended trip. Set an alarm on your cell phone since you likely wont be near a calendar to check their medication schedule.
Hotel and Location:
For this trip we chose to stay in hotels and rented houses. We chose this option because we were traveling to many national parks and most are not particularly dog friendly. We also knew it would be summer and leaving them in the car would not be an option. Getting hotels and houses to stay in ensured we would have a safe and cool place to leave the dogs when we went to a human-only activity.
First, a note on animals: Know the types of animals you may encounter in a given location. There is a reason dogs are not allowed in certain parts of national parks and it mostly has to do with the animals. Those animals don’t just stay within the park boundaries. They are often in the nearby National Forests that you may be hiking your dogs in. Bring bear spray for grizzly country and be watching out for any animals that may be dangerous to you and your dog.
Seek out dog friendly locations: Check ahead of time for restaurants that have dog-friendly patio seating, or National Forests that often allow you to hike with your dog right outside the National Parks. When we stayed in Island Park, ID outside of Yellowstone we found an awesome National Forest with a river walk where we could take the dogs and even let them swim before we headed off to Yellowstone.
I have traveled all over the country with dogs for many years and I have had a lot of success staying at La Quinta hotels. They are all dog friendly and very rarely have any restrictions or fees associated with bringing a pet! Depending on location and time of year, you can typically get a pretty good deal. Many have nice features like the one we stayed in at Arches that had a fenced in dirt yard we could let them run and stretch their legs in.
Another great option is dog friendly VRBOs or Air BandBs. We stayed at a mix of the two while on this road trip. I highly recommend bringing your own old sheets to cover the furniture if you allow your dogs on it. This is respectful to the owner of the house and makes clean up a breeze!
If you stay in a hotel, I always ask for a room on the first floor by the door. This makes it easy to takes dogs out when necessary and also if they are running around, nobody is below you to complain.
White Noise: If you have a pup that’s a bit anxious about the new environment, leaving the TV on or bringing a radio or white noise machine (we’ve used the HoMedics Deep Sleep for years and love traveling with it) can help drown out unfamiliar noises. We do both when we leave.
Bring extra dog towels. I like to have extras so you have some to dry your dog off, use as a bed or mat and also to put down on the floor if your dog is eating a marrow bone or something messy.
Security Camera: I brought my Canary home monitoring system with us on the road to keep tabs on the dogs. If you are renting a private home/apartment with wi-fi this can work really well as an extra set of eyes on your dogs while you are away.
Travel Hack: If you forget your water bowl in the car, you can always use the ice bucket as a temporary water dish.
Next week we will discuss how to how to exercise your dog on the road and how to schedule your time in the National Parks to accommodate your dogs.
*This blog was originally posted in August 2017 at LEDRDogTraining.com*