The Summer Road Trip: Making Dog Your Co-Pilot

There are still plenty of warm days ahead to hit the road, see the sights and explore the great outdoors with your dog! We wanted some tips from a pro, so PugetPets interviewed experienced outdoorsman, PugetPets client and Friend of Dog, Colin Carihill to find out his advice and get a personal perspective on taking a road trip with your best friend.

Getting on the Road

PugetPets: Colin, you recently took a road trip from Seattle to Utah with your dog Cecil, a large, active Rhodesian ridgeback. How was it?

Colin Carihill: That’s right. Seattle to Moab, via southeastern Oregon and north-central Nevada. I loved roadtripping with Cecil. He’s a great travel buddy!

PP: How did you approach the idea of taking a road trip with your dog?

CC: Mindset is important. I tried to adhere to the overlanding philosophy of “as slow as possible, as fast as necessary.” I used Cecil needing breaks and walks as an excuse to see random towns and attractions that I otherwise would have never stopped for. So, if you’re planning a road trip with your dog, build in some time to explore.

PP: Are there any tricks for finding these spots for breaks and exploratory ventures?

CC: These days GPS on your phone and a car charger are all you really need for the basics of navigation. But I found a good map or road atlas to be really helpful for finding small town or state parks, rest areas, and other spots with a bit of space to let Cecil off leash. This way he could shake his willies out, do his business, get some water, and play for a bit before we got back on the road. They’re also good backup for navigation and great for finding campsites.

Prepare for Road Trip Extremes

PP: The areas where you and Cecil were traveling see some pretty high summertime temperatures. Do you have any advice about how to beat the heat of a summer road trip?

CC: Definitely. First, please don’t leave your dog in the car when it’s hot. It’s just a bad idea. I carried a big, collapsible water jug and a big collapsible water bowl. This combination made it super easy for me to make sure Cecil was getting enough water. Any time we stopped I would fill up his bowl and leave it out to make sure he was getting as much water as he wanted. I’d then fill it up again at campsites. Also, If you are car camping don’t forget to include gear for your pup appropriate for the coldest you expect it to get overnight.

PP: So it isn’t just about the hot cars and high daytime temperatures that we normally think of, but about temperature extremes, correct?

CC: Exactly. Those 40 degree swings in the high desert will sneak up on you on a summer evening! Cecil mostly wore my fleece jacket because I forgot to pack his!


Road Trip Cecil in Back

Safe Driving Essentials

PP: Were there other issues of safety for you and your dog on the road?

CC: I think some sort of restraint in the vehicle is a must. I went with a grate-style barrier, but I imagine smaller or less active dogs could do well with the harness-style restraints.

Comforts for Man and Beast

PP: What other dog-related gear did you find essential on the road?

CC: A cushy dog bed is helpful. We got Cecil a 2-in-1 dog bed and sleeping bag, but anything that’s soft enough to sit in for a few hours should work.

PP: A dog sleeping bag! That’s great! Any other tips you can offer us on how to maximize the canine-accompanied road trip experience?

CC: In my experience breweries tend to be reliably dog friendly. You can typically count on good beer (obviously) but also some sort of snacks or food truck and usually a water bowl for the pup. So, if we were approaching a town and in need of a stop, my first search was often for the local brewery. Obviously don’t overdo it if you’re planning to get back on the road!

PP: Thanks, Colin! Those were great tips and suggestions. Let’s hope they inspire lots of exploring and outdoor adventures for other PugetPets clients and their dogs!

CC: You’re welcome!


Road Trip Cecil Outdoors