Pup on the Road

Hi Steph,
I have been working to save up for my second low budget travel stint, before I fall too deeply into the lull of careerism. I know you are a big fan of having a roomie on the road, but I can’t help but wonder about the challenges of travelling with a pup. Please let me in on your experience and tips on how to deal with common dog-travel challenges. Immediate concerns I have are: poison oak, snakes, agro dog-hating hikers, multipitch days, etc.


Hi Tyler,
There are definitely some challenges. First and most difficult: national parks. If you want to go to Yosemite or Tuolomne, you will have a really hard time. They are now anti-dog at Hueco Tanks also. So if those are the main places you want to go, I don’t think having a dog will make your trip easy.

Snakes are a very big concern for me too! I know 2 dogs who were bitten in the face by rattlesnakes. One died, and one survived. Ever since we got Cajun, I’ve tried to take advantage of harmless snakes I see to yell at her and start running away with her. I’m not sure if it’s very good snake training since it doesn’t happen very frequently. You can take your dog to an actual snake training class, probably a good idea if you live in a very rattlesnake-y area.

Most travel dogs I know are very attached to their car/truck. Keep in mind that you don’t want to leave your dog alone leashed in any place that has predators. If you have a comfy bed (or passenger seat), and you are sure that temperatures are not uncomfortable or dangerous in your vehicle, most dogs I know are happy to take a many-hour nap in the shade if they can’t go along on a route.

In safe places, like the base of a desert tower, I always let Cajun wait (unleashed) at the base until we get down.

Luckily she is smart enough to know she needs to wait if it’s a climbing day and run down to the base if it’s a jumping day.

Having a dog on your trip will change things a lot–you will not be as flexible in some ways, and will have to manage a lot of small things to accomodate the pup. You can’t just jump out of the car and go all the time, so you have to decide if you’re okay with an extra level of responsibility, or if you would rather just have the total freedom to focus on only climbing.

The most important thing is that your dog is extremely obedient and well socialized. A travel dog needs to come running as soon as you call or whistle, and needs to be well-behaved around other dogs and people.

For me, everything is way less fun without my dog, so it’s well worth the extra level of responsibility and effort. But there are definitely times when Cajun does not get to come on the trip at all, because it will be easier and more fun for everyone if she stays home with friends. The biggest tip I have is to make sure your dog has lots of friends who like watching him/her in those situations.
🙂 Steph

  • Chris

    A really nice Article, Steph. We’ll get one once we get a bus with more space 🙂 so there’s room to be comfy for everyone.

  • I really need to write a post about traveling with our dog. Sprocket is a great traveler although he isn’t as well behaved as I would like. (I have high hopes for doing some more training during our next long trip…taking one with him when he was a wee pup did wonders for him being a dog we can take in public.)

  • awwww 🙂

  • it is amazing how exposing them to lots of people and other dogs really helps them become good travelers 🙂

  • Tiff

    One benefit of a travel dog is that they get a lot of exercise, and a lot of interaction with other people and dogs.

    But before doing any traveling, my dog (1 year old) was hyper-active, and refused to come when I called. She tore up every toy in the house.

    By taking her running with me, biking with her, and taking her on hikes, she mellowed out and learned follow my repeated instructions: stay on the right, stop (crossing the road), stay close, etc. I could never “take the dog for a walk” – it had to be a run, a ride, or a hike.

    So exercise and repeated mini-lessons on the running trail helped her mellow out and learn calls.

    I hope this helps anyone else with a hyper-active dog.

  • And being 1 year old guarantees a LOT of extra energy too 🙂 She sounds like a cutie!


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