Tips for road tripping with dogs, from people who live in a van year-round
Memorial Day weekend is upon us and if you’re going on a road trip, you don’t have to leave Fido behind.
It may seem like an extra challenge to have a dog in the car with you, but according to Will and Christine Watson, it’s all worth it.
Watson, along with her 3-year-old daughter Rom and 10-year-old pit bull Rush, have been traveling in a refurbished bus since April 2019.
“I wouldn’t want to do it without Rush,” Kristin told Fox News Digital. “I know some people don’t bring their dogs along, because they don’t think their dog will be able to handle it, but I would say try and see before you give your dog a chance.”
“Most dogs really want to be with their owners in any way they can, so they adapt,” Kristin added. “And they are the best companions for these kinds of trips.”
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When the family boarded the bus Three years ago, Kristin said it took some time for Rush to adjust to the lifestyle changes, though she was a little worried at first.
“I think he’s changed really well,” Kristin said. “One thing he did a lot in the beginning … when we were driving, he would run to the front of the bus and then run to the back and then run to the front and run to the back.”
Will explained: “He was having a hard time protecting us when we were driving down the road.”
Now, Watson gives Rush some CBD before the dogs hit the road.
“It’s really, really helped calm him down and be able to cool down while we’re driving,” Kristin said. “It also helps a lot with his hips, as he’s getting older. So getting in and out of the bus, since we started giving it to him, he can do that a lot better.”
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Although Watson doesn’t rush the bus, he has two places where he spends most of his time.
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On Watson’s bus, Rush spends his time either in the front with Will as he drives, or in the back on the bed.
“He just loves sticking his head out the back window and smelling the new smells,” Will said.
Watson also leaves all the essentials for Rush, so he has access to them when he’s on the road.
“He eats free-range and everything, so he has food and water available and his toys available whenever he wants them,” Kristin said.
The Watsons also make sure to walk 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 biggest advantages of rushing with Watson on the road are safety and companionship.
“If Will has to leave me and turn around to go on a work trip, I feel very safe because I have my dog,” Kristin said. “He’s one of those dogs that, he only barks if somebody’s sniffing around the bus or something. So he’s an alarm system.”
“He’s very friendly, but he thinks he’ll cut your head off if you come around the bus,” Kristin added.
Also, Rush likes to go on adventures.
“He likes that we go to different places all the time because he gets to smell new things and pee on different things,” Will said.
“If we want to get out and just walk a trail or do something, obviously Rush is always going to come and he loves it,” she added.
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Kristin said one of the biggest challenges with Rush for family tourism is that some areas are not pet-friendly.
“If you’re going to the national parks, most of the trails in the national parks are not dog friendly,” Kristin explained. “So you really have to pay attention to the weather, because if you’re going to leave your dog or any animal behind in the summer, you really need to do things in the morning or evening when it’s cooler. . “
Watson has a pet monitor, which measures the temperature and humidity levels in their bus and sends them alerts to their phones in case their AC goes off.
They also have a security system for the bus, so they can see and talk to Rush even when they are away.
An added challenge for Watson is that Rush is a pit bull, so he’s not allowed in some campgrounds.
“They consider him an invasive species, unfortunately,” Will said.
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Watson said they lean on a website called BringFido, which helps them find dog-friendly restaurants, activities and lodging while traveling.
Kristin added that public lands are also some great places to take your dog.
“They’re the places that have the least amount of regulation,” he said. “You’ll find beautiful wide-open spaces out there for your dog to run around and stuff. That’s why we always try to find public land.”
Despite some challenges, Watson has no regrets about bringing Rush on his travels.
“Bring the dog,” said Kristin. “Never leave a dog behind.”