Monday, April 15, 2013

Adventures: How to Drive Cross Country with Dogs

We discovered some very helpful things that would have been helpful the FIRST time we took the pooches on a long road trip.  Traveling with Maggie to Chicago in December wasn't that big of a deal because she was just one Maggie but having BOTH Maggie and Nigel was a bit of a game changer.  Here's what we learned!
ROAD TRIP!!!
Portioning Food
Since the pooches are on a raw diet, we bring a cooler with us on our trips.  The first two big trips, I portioned out food per day and put a bunch of them in the cooler (including at least a few days for when we reached our destination).  Then, I got smarter.  Portioning out their food for each DAY was not as convenient as having it portioned for each MEAL.  This way, we could grab a container when we headed into the hotel and that made it much simpler.  When we needed to feed them before arriving at an overnight stop, this also really helped then.

Hotels
Finding pet friendly hotels was very stressful for us at first but we found three helpful things.  The first was the book DogFriendly.com's Lodging Guide for Travelers with Dogs.  Our in-laws purchased it and we borrowed it.  It was very helpful but not 100 percent accurate so in conjunction, we used Expedia's iPhone app to find good prices and see if dogs were allowed in certain hotels as well as BringFido.com.  BringFido was really great because there were reviews of hotels on there also!  You can set search filters for having 1 or 2 dogs so that's really nice too.

La Quinta Hotels are almost always dog friendly and require no extra fee.  The one we stayed at in Albuquerque, NM was AWESOME.  They had nice rooms and a great, free breakfast.  We also stayed at one in Scottsdale, AZ for the second time.  This one had a LOT of dogs checked in so not ideal for Maggie but we could get a room on the first floor (nice for not needing the dogs to ride in elevators and bring all our stuff up and down).  They have a wonderful lawn for dogs to run around and do their thang also, poop bags and separate garbage can included!!

Drury Inn Hotels also seem to not have extra fees for pooches (or weight limits).  They had a great breakfast there too!

The hardest part, for us, at the hotel was that Nigel seems to have a very strong watchdog instinct.  We got almost no sleep at a hotel in Amarillo because there was a massive gap at the bottom of the door so we could hear anyone pass by.  Nigel seemed to do better when allowed to sleep on the bed with us instead of the floor so that was good to figure out.  Because of that, we tried to book king size beds wherever we went.

Oh, and use the ice bucket (after cleaning it out!) as a water bowl to avoid having to bring in extra things with you!

In Praise of Tie-Downs
We learned about tie-downs a while ago from various fostering blogs.  They have been invaluable to us as we introduced Maggie and Nigel to one another.  They helped us keep them in one place without being able to play and sometimes, in a new hotel, the dogs are overwhelmed with excitement and want to explore and play every single second!  Typically, we would let the dogs wander the room, sniff it out, play for a few minutes (quietly) and then if they didn't relax on their own after about an hour, we would use tie-downs to help them calm down.  They relax very quickly once they know their options are chew on antlers or lie in the comfy bed.  Here's a great article from BADRAP's blog about tie-downs with a great link at the bottom to learn more.

Maggie chills out when she's on a tie-down.  This could also be because we used tie-downs in our bedroom while we get ready for work and school so she's used to relaxing.
First Floor Rooms
We found it really difficult to have to use elevators with the dogs and try to carry their stuff in too.  So we ended up asking for first floor rooms, when available.  This also meant that they could play (as long as they weren't too noisy) and not worry about being loud for the people below us. 

Nests!
We found that building a doggie nest in the back seat of the car helped them get comfy and sleep most of the ride.  We put our smaller overnight bags between their seat and ours (both helpful for creating a bigger bench and us being able to just grab what we needed to stay overnight instead of a whole suitcase).  We put their beds and comfy blankies in the back too and they really seemed to be able to stretch out and get comfy.  And they looked adorable.
It's obviously important to squish both of our big heads into the console space.

Head pillow

Looks pretty comfy to me!
We also used their Kurgo harnesses the entire way.  I read an interesting study that says that harnesses don't actually do anything for the safety of the dog BUT it keeps them in the back seat.  Otherwise, Maggie tries to copilot and push her way into my lap.  We didn't even have Nigel's buckled in for most of a day and didn't realize it.  He was fine chillin' in the back.

Our car is now outfitted with the Kurgo bench seat cover that we got on Amazon.  Very affordable and seems to be holding up well.  We like that it's machine washable but it does seem to be a little slippery for them if they don't have their beds or blankets on top of it.

Their Stuff
Even though it was a pain, we brought their beds and blankies into the hotel room each night.  They were SO excited to sniff out each new room and figure out what was going on that we were happy to have something they knew belonged to them.  We also brought their antlers into the rooms so we could occupy them with something if they got restless.  Bully sticks would have been a good addition in case they needed something to chill out with and to wind down a little.

RUN!
We loved finding one rest area with a doggie park area because the pooches were cooped up all day in the car.  If we had been more leisurely in our drive, we would have stopped at other dog parks too just to let them frolic more.  They loved getting out to stretch their legs!

We also made sure to give them water breaks whenever we were able to, often while we were still driving.  We love our foldy bowl that we can pour their water back into their bottle with.  Sometimes, they don't like to drink in the car but Nigel tends to get dehydrated on these trips so we were extra careful this time!
I drank PLENTY of water after this break!

So happy!
We would have added those "tinting" screens to the back windows for them because when the sun shines in on the pooches for long hours at a time, they got HOT!  Otherwise, they did really well.

Anyone else planning a long trip soon!?

22 comments:

  1. Awesome summary of "travel with dogs." We have moved all over the country with anywhere from 2-4 dogs are all your ideas are spot on. I really like the tie down idea and will look into that for when I move this summer from New Jersey to Chicago!

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    1. The tie-downs have been invaluable to us since we got Maggie and then Nigel only three months later. Both of them are still learning the rules of the house. Good luck on the trip to Chicago! That's where we're really from. :-D You should definitely check out Sociabulls (pack walks) with Two Pitties in the City!!

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  2. You are so brave! We were so nervous to attempt traveling with the pups...but these are all so many good things to remember. And I love the nest photo.

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    1. We were a little nervous the first time but Maggie's become a pro and Nigel is SO chill in the car. It's so nice now!

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  3. The two big heads smashed in the console are adorable. I love how thoroughly you had things thought and planned out. Ray loves to ride in the car, but a two hour stretch has been his longest journey so far.

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    1. Maggie's longest ride had been about 30 minutes before Thanksgiving, then we drove 6 hours to Scottsdale. Now, the two of them are traveling pros! Maggie still gets whiney sometimes (I call her Miss Cheese for Maggaroni and Cheese...then I ask if she wants some cheese with her whine...I crack myself up!).

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  4. Thanks for all the great info! I'm loving that picture of their big bully heads squished together!!

    Tess & Ed wear their seatbelts any time they are in the car. We've heard that they're not very effective for their safety, but they work wonders for keeping them in the back and from being a distraction. We were in a (small) car accident last summer and both had their belts on - even if it wouldn't have kept them safe, it kept them from being a projectile! Thanks for the review on the seat cover - have been dying to get one, but haven't pulled the trigger yet.

    Tess gets stressed on roadtrips and won't eat or drink. So we have to plan carefully when we feed them and make sure she doesn't go too long. For really long trips, we try to stop somewhere for 30 minutes or so to let her decompress so she will drink!

    What did you use for your tiedowns and what did you tie them to? And the screens are SUCH a good idea!!

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    1. They looked pretty adorable!! For the seat cover, I would consider buying an Orvis one if they're in the car a LOT. Or one that isn't made out of whatever the Kurgo one is made out of. They slip and slide a bit without blankies. But for $35, it's worth it!

      Poor Tess!! It's good though that you figured something out to help her decompress.

      We use their regular leashes for tie-downs or we bring an extra leash that is longer/shorter depending on what we think we'll need. Often, in hotel rooms, we'll loop it around the bottom of the bed, sofa, or desk. Nigel is STRONG though so Maggie gets the desk, if necessary. They've been really helpful for our dudes.

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  5. We don't have any trips planned soon but when we do I'll have come back and read this post again. Great advice!

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    1. Thanks! Can't wait to hear about future adventures!

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  6. Please make the effort to bring a bowl for water into your hotel room. Using the ice bucket is just uncool. Really.

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    1. Hi Jenn, we made sure to clean anything out for the pooches with hot water and soap before they use it so when we forgot their bowl and it was blizzarding in St. Louis, it was a helpful option. Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. Umm, I'm pretty sure she means that's not cool for other humans who will use the ice bucket AFTER your dogs have used it.

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    3. Thanks for stopping by. We always wash everything out before and after...which is probably more than hotels do! Appreciate the comment.

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  7. They are so darn cute together. Great tips! I've brought Kaya & Norman to my parents' house about 4 hours away and I always bring all their things. There's usually more dog stuff than human. Well, unless I bring my laundry. haha. Luckily they always act comatose in the car and I forget they are even back there! That's awesome that you found a rest stop with a dog park too!

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  8. When the day comes that we can do a long road trip with the dogs I'll be referencing this post!
    What was the dog friendly hotel you stayed at in Scottsdale?
    Tie-downs have always seemed odd to me. I don't know why--something about it just seems weird to me, and I've read that BadRap article about it. The way you referenced it though makes me wonder if it might be something I would utilize in the future.

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  9. This way, we could grab a container when we headed into the hotel and that made it much simpler. When we needed to feed them before arriving at an overnight stop, this also really helped then. www.crosscountrymovingcompanies.biz best cross country moving companies

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  10. I don't want to kennel my dog while I drive from NC to CA. I am really happy to read it can be done (cross country rides with dogs) She is already accustomed to the 5 hours drive from NC to VA. I have made about 10 of those trips with her. I see that driving almost straight through isn't going to be part of my plan. I would like to get in 10-12 hours a day, is this possible?

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    1. Hi Jess, I think anything is possible if your pup has an okay time in the car. We found that even though Maggie gets sort of anxious for the first 30-60 minutes, she calms down and then chills in the back seat. We put in10-12 hour days sometimes and just made sure to stop fairly frequently so everyone could stretch their legs!!

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  11. Hi all,

    My fiance and I are planning a cross-country road trip from MA to CA with our 80 doberman, Zia for our honeymoon next summer. We have ideas of places to stay but wondering about places to eat and things to do along the way that are dog friendly for a very trained sweet dog that hates to be away from us. We have a couple stops in mind but really just wants to see new things, states and end up in southern cali where my fiancé is from. Any info would be much appreciated! Thanks, Sara Z

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    1. There are some awesome dog friendly websites online that tell you both restaurants, parks/rec area, and hotels that are dog friendly like Bring Fido and others. For insight into restaurants near LA that are dog friendly, I would recommend joining LARPBO's (Los Angeles Responsible Pit Bull Owner) group on Facebook. The members take dogs to eat all the time to places like "Not a Burger Stand" that's pup friendly in LA. Have an awesome trip!!!

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  12. I never actually slept (I can not sleep in emerg, too noisy and upsetting), http://www.mmovers.ca/

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