Traveling Cross Country With Your Dogs

Traveling Cross Country With Your Dogs

November 19, 2018 4 By Ciara Groesbeck

Very typical evening of writing and napping, usually surrounded by beautiful nature (Somewhere in Canada)

In May 2017, after months of preparation I packed up my CR-V, grabbed my boys; Boone and Crockett and set off across the US. If your desire to travel is strong, and you have dog(s) do it WITH them– you will have such a rich experience and discover so much of the “unknown”.

Now, let’s go through all this preparation I was talking about (preparation is half the fun anyways, right?).

Vet Check-Up, Medical Kit

Make an appointment to see your vet– making sure your dogs are completely up to date on shots (rabies, distemper, etc). This will come in handy if you stay at places that require these certificates, also if you plan on crossing any borders it is likely they will also require these.

While talking about traveling into Canada, my vet encouraged me to not to joke around with the patrol officers. In responding to the question, “Do you have any dogs traveling with you?” my vet answered with “One collie- one BORDER collie” ..then proceeded to giggle. Border patrol didn’t share the same enthusiasm and ultimately searched her vehicle. With that said, have fun–just maybe not too much fun and hold off on any corny jokes.

When I met with my vet she gave me an emergency kit with iodine, antibiotics, pain medication, alcohol wipes, vet wrap and a few other helpful items. I am a licensed veterinary technician so getting some of these items was simple for me, but may be a bit trickier to score if you don’t have this license (specifically the medications), but it is never bad to ask! Also, flea & tick medication– especially for Northeast regions where there is just a party of ticks waiting for to hitch a ride!

Plan Your Transportation, Plan Your Route

I took my personal car on this trip because the boys are very used to it- both riding and sleeping in it. We weren’t sure if we would have to camp in it throughout the trip, so we wanted to make sure it could accommodate for all four of us.

Crockett waiting to either play, ride or sleep. He is happy with any of those choices.

I would highly recommend driving your own vehicle if it is suitable for you on your trip. I say this for a few reasons: 1. Your dogs are already used to your vehicle so there won’t be as much of an adjustment period 2. You are also used to your own vehicle so “ditto” 3. There may be times when you have a destination in mind and may not feel super comfortable or able to drive a rental vehicle through. For example, there was a hike in Montana that Erik, the boys and I really wanted to accomplish– yet we had to traverse this insane bouldery road to get there. I would never have attempted this with a rental, but I was comfortable enough to drive my own vehicle and it was quite the just some food for thought.

As far as your route goes– have a general idea of where you want to go, but don’t be married to it because those plans WILL change. I am certain that when it comes to travel is that plans can change from day to day. Maybe there was an accident, or a road closure, or you don’t want to take on a big city– each of these things can put a halt in your plans so just go with it. Something beautiful will come out of every changed plan, I promise!

Choose Where You Stay and Sleep

This trip was very low maintenance for us- we tented every night for 3 months, so we didn’t necessarily have to plan every detail of every day. If you are going to stay in hotels or try to find dog parks/places that you can bring your dog to socialize I would highly recommend checking out Bring Fido. We used this website on occasion when we were traveling through a city and it was perfect!

One of our most memorable camp sites.  Somewhere in South Dakota, the sunset was remarkable.

Personally, this trip was about slowing down. I wanted to explore as much as possible, while paying close attention to my boys’ needs as well. I will say, my dogs are super “go with the flow” so meeting their needs was quite simple. On longer driving days (we tried not to drive more than 300 miles a day) we would stop around every 2-3 hours for a minimum of 20 minutes to get out and stretch, sniff, and pee.

Packing For Your Pups

What you pack for you pet is important, but remember there are always pet stores and places you can pick up things as you go too!

Here is a list of things we packed from home and then the items that we purchased as we went to save space:

Things From Home:

  • Medical Kit (Previously Mentioned) Also, you can find complete medical kits on Amazon here.
  • Any supplements, medications or vitamins that your pup takes.
  • Reusable Food and Water Bowls (my favorite camping and backpacking)
  • Collar, Halter and Leash (and an extra of each of these if you have available)
  • Poo Bags (Eco- friendly and bio degradable)
  • Dry Shampoo, wet wipes and an old towel (you know they’re bound to get dirty as some point!)
  • Dog bed or blankets that they can get cozy with (also their favorite toys!)

Things Purchased Along The Way:

  • Dog food (I fed my boys Stella & Chewy’s because it is lightweight, nutrition packs and pretty common in most parts of the country)
  • Dog treats (the more, the merrier– also great for recall training)
  • **Bonus item: Ruffwear Knot-a-Hitch system. While not mandatory, this was a pleasure to have when we were setting up camp each night. The boys could explore without worry that they would wander.

Time To Slow Down, and Sniff Around

I know I mentioned this above, but seriously enjoy each and every day. We made it a mission to find places to explore daily. Tailor it to your desires, but also feel free to step outside of that comfort zone a bit too (include some dog yoga into the mix).

Boone practicing his Shavasana.

These were some of our favorite places to explore throughout our trip. You will notice that there are NO National Parks on this list, as many do not allow dogs beyond the main roads and pathways. We traveled through a few (Zion, Smokies, Sequoia), but stuck mainly to the National Forests, where our freedom was endless.

  • Lily Mountain; CO
  • Crow Mountain; MT
  • Wheeler Peak; NM
  • Frozen Head State Park
  • Portland, OR
  • California, specifically the Lake Tahoe area

    Our trip up Mount Tallac- gazing out over Crystal Lake

  • Wyoming in its entirety
  • South Dakota and the area outside of the Badlands







This list would go on, but instead I will be linking specific blog posts about these trips very soon!

Go on the road trip, be safe and most importantly– have a splendid time. You will learn so much about your dog and ultimately yourself and what a wonderful experience it will all be.

Always Pawsitive,


Ciara, Boone & Crockett