Most pet owners won’t leave home without their beloved animal and van owners are not different. A converted van may be limited in space, but that doesn’t bother Fido. As long as his boss is nearby, nobody is complaining.
Yet there are some restrictions to having a pet on board. The 600 mile daily stretch, to do the cross-country trip in as few days as possible is history. Doggie may not like driving that much and regular stops with long walks may relieve him in more than one way.
Travel starts at home with extra planning for Fido in mind. I always check the destination for opportunities I can share with my pet. That means NO National Parks as they are, for the most part, quite pet UN-friendly.
The opposite is true for our National Forests and State Parks, that have fewer restrictions and more hiking opportunities. Other less known organizations that offer hiking and camping are the Bureau of Land Management (primarily in the West) and the Army Corps of Engineers with locations often centered around lakes and dams.
For local, dog friendly possibilities I often turn to websites like gopetfriendly.com, dogfriendly.com or bringfido.com, each with a different approach to pet inclusion. It has to be said that most private campgrounds accept pets, but I’m not a regular user of them, for other reasons.
A Few Simple Rules
With more campers, hikers and more pets, we all have to make an effort, to limit the impact we have on our surroundings. That is certainly true in these highly concentrated areas like camgrounds and trails. So follow these rules when you’re in the outdoors:
- Most trails require a 6 ft leash.
- Keep dogs leashed around other hikers, bikers, horses, and on steep or slippery terrain. Step aside and yield the trail to all others.
- Pack out poop on day-hikes. On overnighters, bury it away at least 200 ft away from trails, camps and water sources.
To Keep Your Buddy Happy
- Start off getting him used to wearing a dog pack around the house, then on short walks, then on short hikes.
- Then build up on longer trips to toughen paw pads and increase his endurance.
- Trim nails before each trip, to prevent damage to the tent floor.
- Pack a soft sleeping pad and let him stay home when it gets cold.
- Increase the amount of dog food by up to 50% based on his health and the trip’s difficulty.
- Use a collapsible water dish and treat or filter their water just the same as you would do yours.
- Limit the weight of their dog pack to about 25% of their body weight.
- Stop to drink every 15-30 min, depending on the type of trail and the weather.
- Rinse and dry your pet after each swim, especially their ears.
- At the end of the day, check and remove ticks, burrs and other objects.
- Dry your dog and brush to clean him before laying down in the tent.
- Bring tweezers for tick removal, pack bandages and an antiseptic for wounds and a liquid bandage for damaged paw pads.