Traveling With A Puppy: Do’s and Don'ts
As I sit down to spin up this blog I’m a little over two weeks post puppy pickup trip. For those of you who don’t know, I purchased a little black lab from Barton Ramsey of Southern Oak Kennels and Corey Wages of SOK Tanglefoot, located in Mississippi. Yes, Mississippi. Yes, I still live in northwest Wyoming and yes, we drove down to get the puppy.
The trip was almost 4,000 miles and took us four days without really stopping. We rented an RV and took turns driving and sleeping. The entire trip was filmed and we will be releasing it for your viewing pleasure soon. Now, you may be asking yourself, why didn’t they fly or have the puppy flown to them? Well, that was most certainly an option but we chose what we did because it makes for a better story to tell all of you and gave us a golden opportunity to create a unique bond with both people and puppy. We learned a lot, laughed a lot and wore ourselves out with our cross country adventure but it was all worth it.
Before we started our quest to retrieve Hondo (that’s what I named him) I spoke with Barton Ramsey about some puppy travel tips, he outlined a few points for us to share…
Be prepared. Have everything you need for messes, spills, accidents, etc. This includes cleaning spray, paper towels, towels, puppy shampoo, etc.
Plan your stops in places that are not heavily-trafficked by dogs. No rest stops, hotels, truck stops, dog parks. Puppies are not fully vaccinated, so it's best to avoid areas where dogs can transmit viruses to one another.
Always plan feeding around your stops. Puppies will have to potty very quickly after feeding time!
Have a crate small enough that your puppy will not be able to potty in one side and sleep on the other. This will help jump start the crate training process.
Plan for the weather. If it is hot or cold, you won't be able to leave your puppy in the vehicle for eating and such. Make sure you have a plan for the temps!
If flying, have plenty of puppy pads to use in the family restroom between connecting flights. This is a great spot to let your puppy walk and go potty on some pee pads.
Get Cornerstone Gun Dog Academy’s 52+ and watch the module on preparing to bring your new puppy home while you travel!
These points are invaluable for ensuring your travel with pup goes smoothly and sets both of you up for success from the start. That said, we did have to modify how we did things on the trip home because we were traveling in a monster RV and couldn’t just whip into places willy nilly.
We had to utilize truck stops for fueling purposes but we did use Google to find locations that were more rural, think surrounded by farm fields. When we stopped I’d get Hondo out of his crate and look around to find the last place I’d take a dog to go potty and that’s where we went. Sometimes it was quite a long walk but I wanted to ensure that he was kept free from places other dogs would frequent. I’d carry him a ¼ mile out into a farmer’s field most of the time. Was it ideal? Nope. Did it keep Hondo away from where other dogs did their business? Yup.
I also put down pee pads in the shower of the RV and let him go potty in the shower with the door closed as we motored down the road. It worked like a charm and kept us chewing up miles in the process. That setup also allowed me to feed and water him on a schedule because I didn’t have to stop for potty breaks. One more stepping stone in his training process.
We literally only stopped to sleep in Wal-Mart parking lots for a few hours both nights so he spent the majority of his time in the RV, whose spacious interior made it possible for Hondo to romp and play with me while we drove. I used a small pet carrier on the trip and this did indeed jumpstart his crate training and as I write this he’s very comfortable spending time in his crate.
The RV also gave us the luxury of having an air conditioned space for Hondo (and us) to keep the summer heat at bay, we literally ran the diesel generator and AC unit for five days straight.
I realize what we did is not feasible for everyone but it taught me some valuable lessons and started Hondo and I off on the bonding process very quickly. We both had to be flexible and think critically about the scenarios we faced, like truck stops, and in the end it was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Getting a puppy is a wonderful thing but there’s a massive level of responsibility involved and following the above outlined advice for traveling and adjusting smartly when necessary will help ensure you get off to a good start with your new pup.