A lot of people ask about what it is like travelling with dogs full-time. In short, it is harder with than without them but all it takes is more organisation, and they are no harder than travelling with a 3yr old!
First Things First…
What I mean by more organisation is that we try to look at all the things we can do with dogs – parks, walks, lakes, beaches, attractions etc. We then have a look at the non-dog friendly options and ask ourselves the following things:
- Do we really want to do/see this enough to then go to the next steps, if yes go to question 2.
- What is the best way to manage the dogs in this situation – what are our options? E.g. one stays at the van with the dogs, dogs stay in the truck, dogs get tied up to the truck, dogs go to doggy day care, dogs go to a sitter or kennel, what about a pamper salon for the day?
- Are any of these options available?
- Which option do we take?
The other part to travelling is the normal everyday jobs like grocery shopping or errands. Usually we just plan one of us to go with Aria (our daughter) and the other stay at the van with the dogs and get some work done. Other times, we just do a quick one person duck into the shops and the other stays in the truck with the dogs.
We have also set the truck up to be able to leave the window open for them, if we need to leave them in the truck for a short time. (Full post on this coming). We only do this if the weather is not hot and if we are parked in the shade. We also leave them with water and are only gone for a few minutes.
We have found breakfast and lunch options readily available for dog friendly venues. Usually these are cafes and pubs with outdoor beer gardens or decks. Dinners on the other hand have been difficult. Even some pubs don’t allow dogs for dinner times. We generally plan to go to breakfast or lunch but if we want a night off from cooking we will often get take-away from a local fish & chip shop, pizza or Asian etc and take it to a lookout, park, lake etc, somewhere scenic for a picnic! As our dogs are beagles, this is sometimes just as challenging as they LOVE food so we often have to sit at picnic tables to tie them up or if we do the rug thing, we leave them tied to a near by tree or the truck. Also, because they are reactive to other dogs, we try to sit away from others or introduce them so they settle.
As said above we either take them, leave them at home with one of us or organise care. Other travellers have said they often share dog care duties in the van parks, but we are yet to come across that, so not sure how often we could use this as an option.
A lot of our attraction that we visit are natural spaces for our landscape photography business, or playground/parks which are usually dog friendly.
Transport in the Vehicle
We built a wooden platform for behind the drivers seat as the seat of the truck is quite narrow and they were not very comfy and kept slipping off (bonus is we can store stuff underneath it and it doesn’t get walked on by dogs or child). We then have a piece of mattress foam on top as this makes it a softer and comfier ride. Ally and Deuce are always in their harnesses and buckled in through a seatbelt attachment clip onto a metal loop on their leads.
We also have a large carabiner attached to the metal base of the seat and they are clipped into this on a different link on their leads. This is so that when we unclip them from the seatbelt part (or haven’t clipped them up yet) we know that they cannot run out into traffic or away from the truck too far while sorting the other one out either getting them in or out.
Ally and Deuce used to be bed sleepers with us until our lovely Dog Trainer, Michelle told us we had to kick them out and crate train them to establish some authority in our pack. So we did! Within a couple of days (or should I say nights) of whinging from Ally and adjustment of not having free reign for the toilet or a drink, they both settled into crate beds happily.
They have a crate with a comfy bed each, on the bottom bunk in our van. We let them up onto our bed for cuddles in the evening and the morning, so they still get there time with us, but other than that, they sleep in their own crate.
Top things for us travelling with our needy and naughty beagles:
- Must have good strong leads – we are onto our 2nd set in 4 months (I’ll do a review on the new ones soon!)
- Must have water bowls in the van and truck – we carry a collapsible container in the truck cab for them
- Must remember to keep their flea and tick preventative up to date – I’ll admit, I need to use a diary for this!
- Must continue to train them in areas of need – ours are reactive to other dogs, and we work on this every day with them.
- Must spend time with them and exercise them – a nice walk is always good for them and you!
- Harness and strapping them in the vehicle is important. A harness is the safest for travel and having the seatbelted/crated/caged for travel is just as important, for their safety and everyone elses.
- Look at all the places you can go! (don’t focus on the places you can’t). If you want to go somewhere you can’t go, then pre-organise doggy day care, sitter, kennels etc.
- Start additional training as early as possible -if needed (but even recall and tricks for stimulation is great!)
- A fold-up dog bed is a favourite for our girl – ours is from Big W, but I think I’ll be getting a different one in a couple of months as it is starting to wear.
- Be prepared to miss out on things such as all humans going for a swim at a caravan park, as the dogs can’t go or can’t be left behind in the van – this is just so you don’t get disappointed every time.
- Be prepared to vacuum daily if your dog is a shedder like ours – our Dyson stick vac is a family member and treated with love!
- Read up about dog baiting and other illnesses that could be in certain areas and be prepared for this – muzzles and treatment methods etc are important.
Overall, if you consider your dog/s to be family members, try to have them come along with you on your journeys, they do love exploring just as much as you. They need time to adjust just like adults and children do to new surrounds and a new way of life. In all honesty, we didn’t know how ours would go, if we were going to be able to travel with them and were open to fostering them out if needed, but we agreed we would do everything we could do have them come with us and give it a really good chance and length of time before we made any decisions differently. We now don’t even talk about the other option, we just talk about each day and what we will do with or without them and how we will manage the situations.