How to plan an adventure with your dog
There are few things to think about when planning an adventure with your dog.
1) Does your dog travel ok in the car? Our dog Otis used to get travel sickness and would constantly bark in the car so choosing to take him on a 5 hour car ride would never be a good idea. If your dog is a good traveller, then tick, first hurdle overcome!
2) Does your dog cope ok with strange environments? George gets really nervous about new environments, and even sometimes with places he's familiar with depending on his mood. Be prepared to spend a bit of time with your dog when you first arrive at your new accommodation. Walk round the property with them, sit outside for a bit so they can explore on their own but be able to still see you and be accepting of them following your every move for at least the first day. Bringing familiar bedding that smells like them and reminds them of home helps to get them settled in the evening and try and stick to your normal routine as much as possible.
3) Does your dog have behaviours that might make staying in accommodation difficult? George is a barker, he barks at the neighbours he's known for 3+ years every time he sees them hanging out their washing. To combat this I got a bark monitor unit. Rather than one he had to wear, its standalone so I can put it anywhere and if he's barking, I blow into it which has the same affect as him standing near it and barking. It stops him immediately from barking and generally makes him come inside from wherever in the garden he happens to be. I chose to bring this unit with me on holidays. I don't want to annoy the people around us, or have George banned from places we have visited so this is my way to control his behaviour. Before you head off on an adventure, have a plan for how you'll handle any behaviours you don't want to encourage.
Tick those things off your list and you're pretty much ready for an adventure. My first step is to pick where I want to go. I usually pick based on distance from home, whether the area has walks I can do with George and what options for accommodation there are.
Step One - Picking Your Location
Depending on where you live, you'll want to pick something thats a suitable driving distance for your dog. I know by now that George can cope with a fair distance in the car as long as he has breaks so stick a pin in the map, and choose your destination.
Step Two - Research Your Location
There's no point in sitting in a car for hours to drive somewhere that isn't very dog friendly. The Waikato and Far North are good examples of this. There are plenty of walks in these areas, but most of them don't allow dogs, even on-lead isn't an option. These places are managed by DOC usually and therefore there is a total ban on dogs. It's worth spending time on Google (or hopefully ive given you some info here) on whether there are options for walks in the location you've chosen. Check out our adventure map to see what options we might have already visited.
Step Three - Your Accommodation
Great, you've got your location and found out there is suitable places to visit with your dog. Now its time to start looking for suitable accommodation options. If you're like me and have a inside dog, then this can be a little harder. While most places are open to having pets, you'll see the majority restrict this to outside only. I've noted some good websites to try on the Accommodation page.
Step Four - Making An Itinerary
You generally don't need an itinerary for the days you'll be staying in the actual location, but it is good to determine that there are enough walks for you to do and whether you need to obtain any permits from DOC to walk certain areas. I usually research these beforehand, have a list and then work out when I get there and weather dependent which ones we actually end up doing. However you will want to have an itinerary for your travel days to have a rough idea of how long you'll be in the car and whether the breaks you've planned are well spread out.
Step Five - Planning Your Stops
Once I know where im going, I find the easiest way to plan a trip and the stops is to create a map on Google Maps. In the Google Maps menu there is a function called 'Your Places'. Within Your Places, you can create your own custom map which allows you to plot the points you want to get to, and Google Maps inputs the best way to get you there. Start with your home location and either do a local walk, or plan something thats within the first hour. I find the easiest way to do this is look in the general direction you're heading, find a town/city and start googling for dog walks there. While you might not find one in the exact location you're looking, Google will usually throw up results in the nearby areas. Research it, plot it on the map and start finding your next option in the same way until you've reached your final destination. I usually try and do one long walk (5kms or so) and then a couple of short walks or just toilet stops along the way. Our driving time is usually a max of 2 hours between stops. I need a break by then, and George is usually ready to stretch his legs too. Your Google Map will also sync with your smartphone, allowing you to follow directions between each stop as you've planned it.
The photos included here show how I planned our adventure to New Plymouth. Travelling days are well planned based on breaks in between the drive and knowing how long each walk is likely to be. The days we were actually in New Plymouth weren't planned, but I plotted all the walking options on the map so I could review them on Google Maps on my phone if we were out an about rather than having to pull up multiple website references of where I had originally seen them. The day you're heading home can have less breaks. We would have walked in the morning wherever we are staying and then had one large walk somewhere on the way home. Plus after a few days of adventure you'll probably find your dog is less energetic than your first travel day and you'll be ready to get home too!
Good luck planning your doggie adventure! :)