Whether trekking to the Canadian prairies in the summer with bird dogs or venturing South for the winter with retrievers, for some road warriors, pulling trailers and dog boxes is a way of life. Regardless of the time and distance of your trip, follow these tips from those who have learned firsthand what to expect when traveling with dogs.
- Veterinarian On Standby “Research veterinarians who can treat canine athletes near your destination so that you’re prepared in case of emergency,” advises Randy Anderson, a pro trainer of elite bird dogs in the all-age field trialing segment, who recently drove with his string of 40 English Setters and Pointers, plus eight horses,to Westhope, North Dakota, about a 20-hour trip from his Crosscountry Kennels in Vinita, Oklahoma, for summer training.
- First Aid to the Rescue Like Anderson, pro retriever trainer Mike Stewart of Wildrose Kennels in Oxford, Mississippi, knows the value of researching veterinarians ahead of time. When Stewart was pheasant hunting this past November in North Dakota with his Lab “Deke,” the official Ducks Unlimited dog, he also realized the importance of traveling with a fully stocked canine first-aid kit. “Deke was quartering in heavy cover when his rear leg got tangled in some old barbed wire near the field’s edge. He had a two inch cut just below his knee, which I immediately cleaned and wrapped using supplies from my first-aid kit. Because it was Sunday, the nearest veterinarian’s office was closed, but I was able to locate an on-call veterinarian who could stitch up Deke’s wound.”
- Bring Your Own H2O Bring several gallons of water from home as a consistent H2O source for your dog to maintain healthy hydration. Dehydration can be dangerous because it increases your dog’s heart’s workload, impairs the delivery of nutrients and removal of waste from the muscles, and reduces your dog’s ability to maintain a normal body temperature. “I encourage my dogs to drink by baiting water with a small handful of kibble,” says Anderson, who is on the road nearly nine months of the year traveling for training and field trialing. “On hot travel days, you also can cut blocks of ice and place in bowls for dogs that are in crates in the back of a truck or trailer to lick.
- Mind Your Ps & Qs Basic obedience matters. “I’ve stopped in areas where I’ve seen vehicle doors open, and dogs bolt out and run all over the place. This puts the dog at risk of being hit by a car or getting into something he or she shouldn’t, such as diesel fuel or antifreeze,” says Stewart, a frequent traveler to Wildrose’s other training facilities in Arkansas and Colorado. “You can avoid accidents while stopped in a parking lot or rest area by training your dog to ‘stay’ when you open the vehicle door or dog box.” It’s a good idea to keep your dog on lead in busy areas. If you find a safe, remote area to air your dog off lead, make sure you can stay in control of your dog and clean up any mess.