Best way to transport 2 dogs - long post - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-14-2015, 09:49 AM Thread Starter
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Question Best way to transport 2 dogs - long post

I hope I am posting in the correct section. If not, please move it, thank you.

I am moving back to Canada in the early spring. I am trying to decide how to best transport my dogs. It's from the West coast of the US to the East coast of Canada. I will have to take my SUV at some point. It's a Subaru Forrester so not a lot of room in it. If I use it to transport my dogs then little else can be packed into it.

I am not well either so I have to take that into consideration. My husband will be doing all the driving but I lost use of my left leg and now it's starting in my left arm with only the thumb and index finger obeying commands. Bulging discs in 4 places is what is affecting my leg, not sure about the arm as that is new and I have to see the doc on Monday. I mention this for two reasons, one, I am not much use handling Bak, my GSD as I am easily tripped. The second reason is I was his trainer and he has backtracked a bit in his training as he is not getting all the exercise he needs. Hence, he is a tad bit more than a handful and it's over 4000 miles to travel.

However, it would mean quite a few plane changes and I am very worried about his reactions and how that would impact on him. He is my everything dog. One day I will write how gentle he was with me during all the surgeries over the last 10 months. It makes me tear up to think how he was so patient.

Bak was 2 in June and I neutered him then. The tiny poodle x is easy to manage but still comes with her baggage - she is ill again and is incontinent. Surgery awaits her - again.

So please chime in on what method you think best. This forum has been a real godsend to helping me cope and mental exercises to use as I was recuperating. Many thanks - Maggie

Last edited by MacD; 11-14-2015 at 09:52 AM.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-14-2015, 12:18 PM
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I'd say flying a direct flight would be best. Its only 4-6 hours.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-14-2015, 12:25 PM
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It sounds like maybe your DH needs to get ready to handle the GSD by doing some training with him before the trip, to acclimate as the dog's handler?

I've driven across the U.S. with two or three GSDs in the back of a Honda Element...several times. You have to plan more stops (every 2 hours) to stretch and potty the dogs, so as you are mapping out the distance to cover, keep that in mind. You also have to plan overnight points carefully (finding dog-friendly lodging for multiple big dogs is a non-trivial concern). We try to limit ourselves to 8 hour days in the car, as that seems to be about the limit for our dogs--they get grumpy with each other and fussy after that point.

Your DH will have to walk the dogs upon arrival in the hotel (typically a pretty good, long walk to help them unwind from the road). Some hotels have private, small "dog parks" for guests where dogs can be let loose off-leash--those are amazing when you can find them, as it's so easy when you roll into the hotel, to give them a chance to romp.

We also look up off-leash dog-parks in our overnight stop and go early, early in the AM, as soon as the sun is up, before we get on the road, to let the dogs run, play a fast-paced game of fetch, and take a leisurely poop in the park. At that hour, we're the only ones there. It makes the day a lot easier.

We also have our dogs registered as "approved" guests at Camp Bow Wow, nationwide (a daycare/boarding facility). This allows us to take a day off of driving to sightsee and goof off, in any city with a Camp Bow Wow franchise, as we can safely put the dogs in daycare there while we are off doing other things. It's made it very, very easy to travel with them.
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-14-2015, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
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Cloudpump, there are no flights that are direct unless I was fortunate enough to charter a private plane ... a gal can dream

Magwart, my husband is excellent with Bak - it's just his hours of work - 12 hour days seven in a row - add sleep to that and it gave him little time to exercise Bak so I flew my son in from Canada to help .. but he had to go back and he was good to exercise him but not train so given that over a 10 /11 month period meant a schedule that was irregular and that's not a good thing. We all did our best.

You gave me some very good information on planning how long to be in the car and break times as well. We plan on camping 2 out of 3 nights with a hotel on the 3rd so I will try and plan which route to take so dog friendly hotels/motels will be available.

I have never flown a dog so I have no way of understanding the impact on them. It just seems not a good idea unless the dog is used to it.

I am hoping to get back use of my leg and arm - I will know more once I have seen some specialists. We bought a hobby farm in June of this year with 5.5 acres so the dogs, in particular the GSD, would have space to run. The disc stuff happened in July, out of the blue. Before that I was laid up with multiple surgeries for another problem unrelated to my spine, making it impossible for me to train my dog. He has a solid down, stay and recall. Of course the other stuff like sit and leave it but I had hoped to have him better at ignoring some dogs - little white ones to be specific. He got a little reactive due to not being out in public as he was used to but it will all come back to him once that changes as he is of good temperament. They backslide especially at the age he was when I got ill plus he was a mess when I got him .. totally reactive to other dogs, some people etc. He was 7 months when he came to live with us with no training and not knowing what a leash was. It was just bad luck that I got ill and I feel sorry he had to go through that.

I still train him but only games in the house that use his intelligence - which he has in spades - not his muscles. Scent games and the like. I am open to learning more mind games to add to my repertoire.

I will post again when the time comes to make the trip but hope people who have traveled with their dogs will share their experiences. At this point I think I have ruled out planes because of the number of plane changes.

Thank you for your help. M.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-14-2015, 09:38 PM
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What specific locations are you leaving and going to? It seems strange that you can't find a direct flight from California to Eastern Canada. If you're going to a smaller town that doesn't have an international airport (and thus requires at least a second, smaller flight), then perhaps you can send the dogs via plane from (for example) San Francisco to Montreal, and drive the rest of the way?

You could leave the dogs with someone that will board them for a few days and drop off at the airport while you drive to your destination. You'd get to your location, unload whatever you need to make room in the car and loop back to the Montreal airport to pick up the dogs?

I just can't imagine driving cross-country with two dogs and all your normal stuff being anything but a nightmare.
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-14-2015, 10:09 PM
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I drove from Florida to Tennessee with two of my dogs to pick up a friend and then we headed off to California to pick up a dog she had purchased. We really didn't have much of a problem ... my guys were used to traveling, were good in motels, and it was a pleasant trip. Coming back with three dogs was still pretty simple, we just had to keep my two separate from her new guy (we didn't want a problem). And all went smoothly back to Tennessee. Then my guys and I drove back to Central Florida.

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-14-2015, 11:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks both of you for your responses - I wanted people to give me their opinions - the pros and the cons - as far as flights - the best I could hope for would be San Fran to say Newark .. Newark to Halifax and then I would have to pick them up there and drive the 5 hour drive rather than putting them on the 3rd flight to Sydney, NS.

Bak has never flown and I think he would hurt himself on the crate trying to get out. SO driving it will be.

I just need to plan it well and do what Magwart said and keep the driving time to 8 hours at most, scratch the thoughts of camping and find dog friendly lodging .. and stop every 2 hours for play time.

He is not over the top energy wise so I think it's going to be OK .. I am going to try and find things to amuse him in the car too. I will ship my stuff up to Canada and not try to take it plus the dogs in the car - my dogs are more important to me than anything I own.

I just want to hear from others who have done a similar trip distance wise - what their biggest challenges were and anything else they can think of. I have a great first aid kit ready .. but I am making a list now and hoping to have it well thought out so I don't miss something - I will talk to my vet and get some antibiotics for the tiny poodle in case her urine gets infected as it often does - she gets struvite stones - had the surgery but they are coming back and there is nothing I can do about it through diet etc. Been down that road before. They don't operate until they are a certain size and I will be getting her ex-rayed soon.

So any other meds I should get as a precaution? Your help - your second set of eyes is really helpful to me and I appreciate any insights you can share.

Last edited by MacD; 11-14-2015 at 11:31 PM.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-14-2015, 11:40 PM
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I've made (most of) the drive, camped along the way (travelled in June) and taking 80, encountered no problems. stopped much less frequent than 2hrs.... figured between gas, interesting sites and my own relieving needs - the dogs had enough opportunities. I will have to track down the site I used but I selected a highway and it gave me a list of campsites along the way. majority were dog friendly and just a drop box payment system with no advanced reservations needed. Salt Lake City was the only challenging area where lodging would probably be more convenient - we ended up just camping somewhat "illegally".

I carry vax records whenever I'm on a road trip... the basics, food, water, poop bags, extra leash, and/or long line, towels, a brush. peroxide and benedryl would be good ones, buffered aspirin and maybe Neosporin.

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Last edited by Fodder; 11-14-2015 at 11:42 PM.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 01:33 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you Fodder - please let me know if you find your route and I will check it out. I do have a garmin to take as it warms of road closures and the like, plus places that you can't see from the road that might be great for the dogs to check out.

I started a word file to copy the advice I am getting here. A check list to make sure I have what's necessary .. like tick removal tool, peroxide and baking soda in case of skunks .. you filled in a lot of blanks for me - appreciate it. M.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 11-15-2015, 01:00 PM
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Dog friendly motels: Days Inn, Super 8, Motel 6. That said, call ahead. Given your health issues, I would not plan on camping out. Super 8 & Motel 6 are most reasonable, Days Inn a bit more. Shilo Inn has some dog friendly locations (if not all) but in a large west coast city (Vancourver WA) the price for an overnight stay was a bit spendy. (About twice what Days Inn was and not quite 3x what Motel 6 would be.)
The problem with shipping the dogs via anything is that you need to be there to ship them out and be there to pick them up. Kinda hard on a cross country move via car. If I were going to fly the dogs, I would fly, too and be on the same plane(s) they were on - and try to watch that they were loaded. It just sounds too complicated to try to fly them out with multiple stops if not multiple flight changes. Risky.
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