Tips for road tripping with dogs, from people who live in a van year-round
Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner and when you go on a road trip you don’t have to leave Fido behind.
It may seem like an extra challenge to have a dog with you in the car, but according to Will and Kristin Watson, it’s all worth it.
The Watsons have been traveling in a refurbished bus with their 3-year-old daughter Roam and their 10-year-old pit bull Rush since April 2019.
“I wouldn’t want to do this without Rush,” Kristin told Fox News Digital. “I know some people don’t bring their dogs because they don’t think their dog can handle it, but I’d say just try it and see before you just don’t give your dog the chance.”
“Most dogs just want to be with their owners in any way they can, so they adapt,” Kristin added. “And they’re just the best companions on this kind of journey.”
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When the family got on the bus three years ago, Kristin said Rush needed some time to adjust to the lifestyle change, though he was a little anxious at first.
“I think he transitioned really well,” said Kristin. “One thing he did a lot in the beginning is … while we were driving he would run to the front of the bus and then run to the back and then run forward and back.”
Will explained, “He had a hard time protecting us when we’re on the road.”
Now the Watsons Rush give some CBD for dogs before they hit the road.
“That really, really helped calm him down and be able to relax while we’re driving,” Kristin said. “It’s also great for his hips as he’s getting older. So jumping on and off the bus, he can do that so much better since we started giving him that.”
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While the Watsons don’t stop Rush on the bus, he does have two places where he spends most of his time.
Giving your dog a seat in the car — or bus — will make your pet feel calmer and at home on the road, according to Outside magazine.
On the Watsons’ bus, Rush spends his time in the front with Will as he drives, or in the back on the bed.
“He loves just sticking his head out the back window and just taking in the new smells,” Will said.
The Watsons also leave all the supplies for Rush so he can access them while they are on the road.
“He forages and stuff, so he has food and water available and his toys available whenever he wants,” Kristin said.
The Watsons also make sure to Rush every time they stop – which they do every few hours to stretch their legs and take a bathroom break.
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Two of the greatest benefits of Rush with the Watsons on the road are safety and companionship.
“If Will has to leave me and Roam to go on a business trip, I feel super safe because I have my dog,” said Kristin. “He’s one of those dogs that will only bark if someone sniffs the bus or something. So he’s an alarm system.”
“He’s very friendly, but he sounds like he’s going to bite your head off if you come around the bus,” Kristin added.
Plus, Rush likes to go on an adventure.
“He loves that we go to different places all the time because he can smell new smells and pee on different things,” Will said.
“If we want to go out and just walk a trail or go do something, then of course Rush always comes and he just loves it,” he added.
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One of the biggest challenges of having Rush for family outings is that some areas aren’t pet-friendly, Kristin said.
“When you go to national parks, most trails in national parks are not dog-friendly,” Kristin explains. “So you really have to consider the weather because if you leave your dog or any other animal in the summer, you have to do things very early in the morning or in the evening when it’s cooler.”
The Watsons have a pet monitor, which measures the temperature and humidity in their bus and sends alerts to their phones in case their A/C shuts off.
They also have a security system for the bus so they can watch and talk to Rush while they are gone.
An added challenge for the Watsons is that Rush is a pit bull, so he’s not allowed on some of the campgrounds.
“They unfortunately consider him an aggressive breed,” Will said.
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The Watsons said they lean on a website called BringFido, which helps them find dog-friendly restaurants, activities and accommodations while they travel.
Kristin added that public lands are also some of the best places to take your dog.
“These are the places with the fewest rules,” she said. “You’ll find beautiful big open spaces there for your dog to run around and stuff. So we always try to find public land spaces.”
Despite the few challenges, the Watsons do not regret taking Rush on the journey.
“Bring the dog,” Kristin said. “Never leave the dog.”
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