Traveling is fun for the whole family!

4 Jan

If you are anything like me, traveling for the holidays begins several days before you actually pack the car and hit the road. The preparation takes several days and careful planning…

Step 1: wash all laundry
Step 2: pull large suitcase and pink tote bag from the back of the guestroom closet
Step 3: plan outfits
Step 4: fold clothes very neatly and pack in suitcase
Step 5: pack shoes and accessories
Step 6: pack toiletry items
Step 7: double check to make sure everything needed is packed
Step 8: load car

I typically am in charge of steps 1 through 7 and Ben handles step 8. (Disclaimer: I do spend a lot more time planning my outfits than I do with his… hehehe!)

Traveling with dogs also takes tons of prep work. I’m not just talking about packing the dog food and making sure we grabbed the appropriate leashes… I’m talking about our dogs feeling comfortable and being okay no matter where we take them. Luckily, Ben helps with all the steps of this activity!

Step #1: Keep as many things as consistent as possible
Feed them their normal dog food and their normal treats
Pack their favorite toys
Pack their crates!

Ilsa is very well behaved and certainly doesn’t need to be crated during the day while we’re at work. Gumbo, on the other hand, would find any mischief he could! But, we crate them both every day. When traveling, we take their crates, their crate pads, their blankets, and the iPad with Pandora Radio classical station playing just like at our house. The crates are their safe haven, which conveniently travels with us. (Make sure to buy the crates that fold up easily and take minimal space when collapsed.)

Step #2: Vary the daily routine
On any given weekday, we walk the park close to our house 2 to 3 times. During the weekend when we have more time, we visit a different park/walking trail each time. This allows Ilsa and Gumbo to experience all different smells, sights, and sounds and is a great way to explore our area. We vary our walks from busy city streets to empty wooded areas. Even though we mix things up as much as possible with regards to location, certain rules apply every walk. They are not allowed to pull on their leashes and must have polite manners when greeting any person/dog we meet on the trails. If you vary the daily routine then daily variation is routine!

We started expanding our walking locations early last year after making a trip to Kansas City for a dog show. The whole trip was a little overwhelming. It was the first time for Ilsa and Gumbo to stay in a hotel, and we weren’t very familiar with the area. We found a park that looked nice for a walk, but Ilsa and Gumbo were clearly stressed in an unfamiliar environment. At that point, we realized that their stress had nothing to do with being in Kansas City but was a result of being outside their normal, predictable routine.

Introducing Ilsa and Gumbo to new locations once or twice a week made our trip last fall to Denver for the Vizsla Club of America national non-field events much more enjoyable. We didn’t know exactly what to expect with regards to the city but didn’t worry one bit. We knew neither dog would be upset by a change in location. We actually walked the V’s in an industrial area on the sidewalks, a city park with tons of kids playing soccer, and ran them off-leash in a nature preserve. They never missed a beat!

We also put miles and miles on our car this holiday season as we traveled to east Tennessee (8hr drive) for Thanksgiving and Shreveport, Louisiana (10hr drive) for Christmas. Again, they did great! No upset tummies, no freaking out, no worries.

We are looking forward to new exciting adventures this year and hope everyone has safe travels in 2012!

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