Traveling with a Dog

Hi Steph,
I just want to start by saying I’m inspired by everything you do. I am interested in doing a roadtrip across country for several months (depending on how long the money lasts) to go climbing. I’m reaching out to other female climbers who’ve done these trips to get some of their beta. In your case, I see that you like traveling with a dog. Have you ever run into any complications with your dog? Is it harder to access popular climbing areas with her? What do you do with her for multipitch routes? Does your dog make it harder to sleep/cook in your vehicle when you’re on the road? I have a shepard/lab mix that would be an awesome travel companion, yet I’m worried about the logistics of it. Any advice would be appreciated.


Hi Jennifer,
Yes, I love my dog and I love traveling with her. In certain places it takes no effort at all, in other places it takes effort, and some places are impossible. But if you’re on a roadtrip having your dog with you makes it a lot more fun, in my opinion. My interest in climbing areas is definitely influenced by whether they are dog friendly or not.

The hardest thing I find is when you want to go somewhere that discriminates against dogs. Because you can either not go at all (what I usually do), find a friend nearby who likes your dog enough to watch him/her for a little bit (works well too), or go all commando with your pup (did this for YEARS in Yosemite/Tuolomne, but you have to have the right dog and can be stressful).
The other harder times for your canine companion can be rest days–the days you are driving around a town taking care of basics like showers, food shopping, internetting, etc. In the summer months, I always stop at a creek or river and toss the ball for a while to make sure Cajun gets herself soaked, before doing town errands. Then I make sure to park in the shade, put the sunshield in the front and roll down all the windows. If there’s a grassy, shady area I leash her outside with a water dish and a full water bottle next to it (in case she tips it over and a friendly pedestrian wants to refill–she usually doesn’t drink it anyway).
For multi-pitch routes, I would suggest training your dog to wait at the base for you. One main consideration is wild animals. If you are in an area that could have coyotes, don’t leash your dog alone. It’s definitely better if your dog is good with waiting without a leash.

Cooking and sleeping are no harder with Cajun, and those are some of the nicest moments on the road with your dog, I think. Nothing beats a dog heater when your sleeping bag isn’t warm enough 🙂 My former dog Fletch used to be really helpful with the first rinse on cooking pots–annoyingly, Cajun has almost no interest in food because that is really useful when camping. She makes up for it with the cuddling though.
If you do bring your dog, I hope you have fun and that the extra effort is worth the rewards of having your best friend on your trip.

  • Amanda Renner

    When taking my dog on adventures & road trips I always make sure to research vets & boarders in the area in case we get to the destination and he isn’t having it.

  • that’s a good idea

  • Alex Hilshey

    Hi Steph,
    My wife and I are considering adoption of a pup. Can you recommend any resources (i.e. books) for training a good crag pup?

  • Hi Alex,
    I read the Monks of New Skete puppy training book when we got Cajun. She was a HORRIBLE puppy–I think she was separated from mother/siblings too young and was an unmanageable, biting and chewing critter who did not respond well at all to any deterrents (loud “NO”, rolling her on her back, etc). We found that spraying her with water (like you do for cats) was the magic solution, when she barked, chewed, mouthed, etc. (i.e. all day long). When we first had her at the crag, we had to make sure we had several spray bottles within reach at all times, and it was a lot of effort. We also quickly realized that she only responded to positive reinforcement, so we had major “parties” constantly when she listened. Now she comes the second you call her, and works hard at not barking even when startled. She is a great dog–so the moral of the story is that even a wild, unmanageable critter can turn out well with some creativity and paying a lot of attention to their individual style….

  • Dave

    Merle’s Door…amazing book about sharing your life with a dog.


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