Pup on the Road
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.
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.