Traveling cross country with dogs
In this blog, I will discuss how we traveled from Alaska to Colorado with 3 dogs. It is a little overwhelming if you think about it. But honestly, it wasn't that bad!
Let's first talk gear. Traveling with dogs is no easy feat. We drove in our 2017 Toyota RAV4. The backseats were folded down, so they had a lot of room. There were 2 dog beds in the back, so they had comfort. Next, you must think about water. How will the pups drink when you're on the road for 12+ hours a day? We kept a water canteen and a growler full of water. We used a spill-proof water bowl that they had access to water at all times. Food was portioned out appropriately. We feed our dogs once a day, so we would feed them in the hotel. But if you plan to feed in the car with multiple dogs, make sure your dogs are not food aggressive or resource aggressive. It would be difficult to break up a dog fight with a car in motion. We brought chews and their favorite toys to distract them. Keep in mind that we drove in the middle of January. So the roads were still snowy and icy. We made sure to keep blankets in the back in case they wanted to burrow. Also, keep diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and Dramamine on hand. You never know if your dog will have an allergic reaction to new surroundings or be motion sick from being in the car for so long. We keep a stocked first aid kit for humans and dogs in the car. Talk to your vet before you leave to find out what medications and doses are best and safe for your dogs.
What should you bring with you in your car? Always keep winter gear in your car. My kit includes a set of gloves, hat, shovel, tread mats, and a heated blanket. What would you do if you got stuck and had no cell reception? You need to be prepared to take action yourself. Also, keep a working spare tire, tire bar, and jack in your car. We also traveled with a spare can of gasoline. The gas stations in western Canada (especially in the Yukon) are few and far in-between.
We had leashes handy if we needed to stop and walk them for potty breaks. We would stop mainly along the side of the highway. The Alcan is a long and barren highway. We saw maybe 1 car an hour. It was also perfect for getting photos! We had the entire highway to ourselves!
Another important thing to do, keeping up-to-date identification on your dogs is very important. You don't want to be stuck on the road missing one of your dogs in a foreign country (Canada). My dogs wore collars with their identification, and their microchip information was also up to date. Also, it's extremely important that your dogs are up to date on their Rabies vaccine and that you carry the Rabies certificate, along with a current health certificate from a veterinarian. You need this information to cross the border. The border patrol is also allowed to search your car for any reason. We didn't have any issues crossing the border as human travelers, but you also need a passport to cross the border. My passport was accidentally packed away with all of our stuff. Luckily, I had my birth certificate, which was an acceptable form of citizenship. Always make sure your identification is up to date too.
There was one portion of the Alcan in British Columbia where we saw Bison. It was such a cool experience. The dogs were curious but didn't get overly excited. We stopped, and I had to photograph some of them. The bison didn't seem to mind.
Keep in mind that we were traveling in early 2021. There was a strict lockdown in Canada. We were only granted access because my active duty husband had orders to change duty stations. Casual access into Canada was not permitted at the time. We were given strict rules. We were banned from going to any national parks or points of interest. Canada required us to display a sign in our car window that stated when we entered the country and when we were required to leave.
Crossing back into the United States was a little more complicated. They required our entire lot of paperwork, and we had to wait at customs to be cleared. It took nearly an hour to be cleared to re-enter. On our route, we went through Washington state to visit some good friends. I have always wanted to go to California, so we added Eureka to our stop. The United States was not in a strict lockdown like Canada was, so we were free to visit sites in America that we wanted to see. The redwoods were beautiful. We only got to see them around dusk but were still able to get a few photos. We traveled through Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming to get to Colorado. I did post my GoPro on the windshield and filmed the entire journey.
Lodging with 3 dogs is not easy. Most hotels allow 2 dogs. Since we were "essential personnel," the hotels in Canada were very accommodating. The only place in Canada that was strict about Americans was White Horse, Yukon. We were not allowed to leave our room for any reason. The local diner sent us our food and left it in front of our door (The temperature was -10 Fahrenheit). We did run into an issue in Prince George. They were not ok with 3 dogs but ultimately allowed us to stay and even upgraded our room to a suite. It's important that your dogs have respectable etiquette in public settings. We had to walk our dogs through numerous lobbies to get to our rooms. Your dog should be well behaved and not be allowed to come up to other guests. It's just respectful and allows dogs to continue being granted lodging access. Also, please pick up after your dog. If they do their business, just pick it up and dispose of it. It's the small things that allow dogs to continue to be permitted.
As big of an adventure as this was, the dogs did very well on the trip. They were excited to see a real backyard as they didn't have that in Alaska. The trip took us 9 days from point A to point B. I'm more than happy to answer any questions about our journey!