Road Tripping With The Pups – The Perfect Socially-Distanced Travel
By Mike Powell
My pups and I travel together quite a bit. We’re family, after all, and they love experiences with us as much as we do with them!
But have you ever experienced a pet with cabin fever? I never realized my dogs could be so moody. There were episodes of supreme grumpiness in which I was apparently a very bad human for keeping them cooped up.
I also had to deal with moments of wild zoomies and scratching at the door, pacing the fence in the hope of spotting a gap, and happiness which rapidly turned to disappointment as they realized we weren’t leaving the property.
No, the back yard has not been good enough for my dogs in these COVID times. So when restrictions were lifted, I knew what I had to do in order to keep the peace in my household. Go on a road trip.
Road Tripping – The Perfect Social-Distancing Travel
Although I have done some international travel with my fluffs, road tripping is our travel mode of choice, and it’s kind of perfect for mid/post-COVID times.
If you’re used to doing social things in wide-open spaces with your dogs, you may be averse to the idea of being stuck in a vehicle or an RV with them for hours on end.
But I can guarantee that being in a car with a happy pup is better than being stuck in a house with annoyed ones.
Here’s why you should take your dogs on a road trip:
No Airplane Worries
Flights and their policies are constantly up and down in these pandemic times. It’s not always about where you are or where you’re going, either. Airports are in constant motion, bringing in people from all over the world.
COVID has brought airport-related things to a bit of a grinding halt, and airlines are still a bit up in the air (ha) about it all.
Road trips avoid all the planning and panic and having to crate your pup and not knowing if he’s being petted by someone with COVID hands. You’re right there with your pooch all the time, so there’s no extra stress.
No Need to Get Too Close
Road tripping is super for social distancing. It’s just you, your family, and your pups. No need for masks or too much hand sanitizer in the car.
When you need a bit of a break from the car, you most likely won’t be hopping out of your vehicle into a crowd of people. You may find yourself in a forest, on a desert road, or in a nature reserve.
Of course, you may also have to pop out at a truck stop here and there, but in general, road tripping is much freer than other forms of travel!
Wide Open Spaces
Road tripping is the perfect way to shake off the lockdown blues and get your outdoorsy self back in action.
Nobody road trips to see buildings or cities! We road trip to see the amazing things nature shows off, and get some fresh, clean air in our lungs.
The opportunities for photos are rife, and I can promise you your pups are going to love you even more for allowing them some freedom to really stretch their legs again.
The Perfect Pup-Friendly Road Trip
So once I’d decided I needed to plan a road trip for the family, I went about searching for the best dog-friendly route so we could really make the most of it.
We live in South Central USA, so the places we could go to were many. In the end, we chose: Canyon of the Eagles Nature Park in Lake Buchanan, Texas.
This beautiful resort exceeded our expectations. As well as being very dog-friendly, there’s an abundance of things to do with your furry friends. Being enthusiastic about our first stop, I was up bright and early on day one to hit the trails with
An experience we highly recommend is spending an hour at the Eagle Eye Observatory. Although our pups didn’t care much for the Lagoon Nebula or the Hercules Cluster, this was an experience we weren’t expecting to have with our dogs in tow, so it was a lovely surprise.
Experiences Dogs Love
We really wanted to take part in some experiences that our dogs would love, and not just take them along on our human experiences. This was one we chose specifically because we knew our dogs would be super excited, and it was not disappointing at all.
Dogs get a free cruise and as long as they’re leashed they can get up close and personal with dolphins! Have you ever seen a dog lick a dolphin’s nose?
Our pups thoroughly enjoyed the experience of meeting an unusual but friendly creature. If we hadn’t had them on the leash I think they would’ve taken a swim. Baywatch Dolphin Tours
Fire Museum of Texas
We all know the relationship dogs have with fire hydrants, and I felt it only fair that we took the pups to view the Dalmation-spotted attraction. No, we didn’t let them pee on it, don’t worry.
Whether or not they even recognized it as a fire hydrant, I’m not sure. But they were allowed inside the museum with us too. I can’t say if they enjoyed it as much as we did, but it was a great stop on the trip. Fire Museum of Texas
Shawnee for a Hike
We adore a challenging hike, and our dogs love wide open space too. Shawnee was one we’d had our eye on for a while, and we took the opportunity to tick it off our bucket list. We let the dogs off-leash to run wild and free for a few hours while we took in the scenery, which included forest trails, beaches, and grassy areas. Shawnee Mission Park
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
We did a lot of hiking on this road trip – nothing stretches your legs after a long car trip like a good trail walk! We chose one of the shorter hikes in the interest of not exhausting our dogs, but it was packed with amazing sights and sounds.
Bison and longhorn roam freely, birds are a dime a dozen, and we almost had a panicked moment with our smallest pup and a snake. Thankfully, all we came away with were aching feet and great memories. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
We were excited about this one as it not only involved canoeing (which I love), but it’s dog-friendly canoeing. There are no leash laws here, so the dogs have free reign. Of course, we wrapped them safely in life jackets before getting them waterborne.
It was as easy as laying their beds on the bottom of the canoe. They sat patiently and watched with interest as we paddled. I think they quite enjoyed the slow rocking motion! The trip was around six miles of stunning scenery, sandstone cliffs sprinkled with green boughs, gliding through the impossibly clear water. Buffalo National River
Don’t Forget To Pack …
If you’re keen to take a bit of a road trip with your dogs in tow, there are some things you’ll need to be sure you have with you. We were caught out once or twice (poop on the bottom of a stranger’s shoe, a sick pooch after chewing on something dodgy on a trail), but we learned quickly.
Hopefully, this brief checklist will help you avoid the problems we ran into!
Doggy Safety Gear
Did you know you can get a doggy seatbelt? Yep, and you certainly should have one if your dog will be spending any length of time in the car. They’re far less able to anticipate the movement of the vehicle, and also can’t just grab something to steady themselves.
I recommend a doggy first aid kit too. You’ll want to have bandages, wound care spray or ointment, any medication your dog may be on, and activated charcoal. It’s also a great idea to include contact details of vets in the areas you’ll be visiting!
In order to avoid breaking laws and upsetting others, cleaning supplies are a necessity. Poop bags will keep you from receiving annoyed glances in public, but it’s also worth taking along some dog shampoo in the event that your pooch decides to roll in something smelly while they’re out of the car.
Trust me – you don’t want to be driving down a deserted road with a stinky dog in a hot car.
Enough Food & Water
The first time I road tripped with my dogs, I way underestimated how much food and water they’d need. I had to stop along the way to buy more, but couldn’t find their brand. I ended up with two hungry and disgruntled dogs.
Invest in some travel food and water bowls that take up very little space, and make sure you have enough water – rather have too much than too little. Don’t forget the treats! I’ve had to bribe my excited dogs with a treat on many occasions to get them back in the car.
Other Useful Items
It can be tough to decide what to pack and what to leave behind. There’s only so much space in the vehicle, after all! Thankfully, after many trips as a human/dog family, we’ve learned a few things about what shouldn’t be left behind.
- Dog beds and blankets
- Toys/bones to keep them busy in the car.
- Your dog’s brush (if you don’t deal with knots immediately, they become embedded!)
- A crate and tray (some places require this in order for your dog to stay overnight).
COVID times have been hard on us all. Who would have thought we’d actually look forward to getting back to the office?
It’s been particularly rough on those of us who spend less time at home and more out on the road. But while we can deal with restlessness by immersing ourselves in a movie or a great book, our poor pups can’t do the same!
If you’re itching to get away from your lockdown space and have some (safe and socially distanced) fun with your dogs, why not take a chilled-out, meandering road trip?
Mike Powell is a dog lover and a writer. He loves taking his dogs anywhere and writes a lot about them. Mike also owns a dog blog, www.dogembassy.com/, where he shares some tips on how to take care of a dog.”