Packing up the car and heading to the lake to unwind for a couple days is my all time favorite summer activity. And it is definitely high on Finn’s list of favorite things too. As soon as we hit the dirt road that leads to our cabin, his head pops out the window and he starts sniffing out the animals he will no doubt terrorize and stalk during his visit.
Creating a stress-free and safe environment for the dogs always makes the weekend more enjoyable for me, so I make sure to pack the essentials to get us through.
- Tie outs: Blue (the hound) needs to be attached to something sturdy at all times if he is going to be outside. That nose of his will have him in another county before we even realize he is gone! Finn uses his tie out a little more sparingly, especially if the lake is quite and the dogs down the beach aren’t out playing; but he likes to spend most of his time in the bay with his head down a muskrat hole, so I’ll keep him tied up if I don’t want to have a filthy dog to deal with. I will sometimes leave the tie out attached to Finn, but with the other end free. Finn doesn’t really run off, he just wanders… so I can just grab the tie out if he gets too far or I need him to come back. I am always careful about letting them in the water with their tie outs on though because I am terrified that they will get it caught on something and drown. (Mind you, they are never in water deeper than my waist, and there is nothing in the water for them to get caught on..but I am a spastic dog mom!)
- Water toys: Typically a stick is enough to entertain them in the water, but if I am really trying to give Finn a a good swim workout, a tennis ball or Frisbee is easier. I love the Chuck It brand tennis balls, as they are sturdy enough to withstand Finn’s jaw strength. They don’t break as easily, and stay buoyant longer than regular tennis balls.
- Blankets: If it’s not too hot outside, I try to keep the dogs tied up in the front yard as much as possible. To keep the annoying ants and bugs at bay, I like to lay old blankets out in the shade so they are more comfortable.
- Extra water dishes: This one seems a little obvious, but I have been guilty of letting the dogs go too long without enough water when they are outside. Now I try to make sure that there are water dishes littered around the yard so they always have water available without them having to go inside to drink.
- Extra food: With all the playing, swimming, sniffing and fresh air, I like to keep extra food around if they will eat it. Usually they are too busy to eat their usual daily serving, but I would rather have too much than too little!
- Baby gate: Unless it is just us at the cabin, I try to be respectful of the people that aren’t used to dogs 24/7 and gate the dogs off during meals. Between guests being more willing to share their table scraps than we like, and the annoyance of a dog underfoot when you’re cooking and eating, it usually makes it a little easier and more enjoyable for the humans and dogs to have them out of the way!
- Bones: The pooches can get a little spoiled with constant entertainment and attention while up at the lake, so having a distraction for them when you are busy doing other things is crucial in my opinion. I will give them bones on their blankets outside sometimes, but they also really like going into separate rooms and having some alone time to enjoy them.
- Benedryll: Between the hound’s allergies and Finn’s extreme aversion to loud noises, having Benedryll handy is basically a necessity. There are all kinds of irritants in the form things in the water, and their noses constantly being to the ground that the dogs can get a little miserable and itchy. Plus, when there is a storm, or someone is letting off fireworks nearby, a Benedryll seems to be just enough to calm Finn down. I am looking into getting him a Thunder Coat, or using this Ace Bandage trick, because he can get himself really worked up. OF COURSE check with your vet before administering ANY sort of medication to your dog. Dosing and contraindications are obviously differing for dogs vs humans.
- Their beds: I think having the beds that the dogs sleep in at home (when they aren’t sleeping in OUR beds!) helps them sleep better in a different place. And if the dogs sleep well, the rest of the cabin sleeps well too!
- Shampoo: Finn hates baths in the tub at home, but he LOVES being in the water at the lake! I try to use this to my advantage at the end of the weekend with a bath right before we head out. Plus, it is important to wash off anything he may have gotten into around the cabin or in the water.
Whew! This was a comprehensive list!! What are some of your go-to things to pack when traveling with your dog? What am I missing?