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Overlanding with Your Dog: Jennifer & Monty

Overlanding with Your Dog: Jennifer & Monty

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Have Dog Will Travel: Life on the Road with Monty

Jennifer Langille has been overlanding full-time throughout the US with her one year old Vizsla named Monty. Read more about the ups, downs, ins and outs of a life on the road with a four legged friend.

Overlanding With Your Dog
Overlanding With Your Dog

Story and Photos by Jennifer Langille

Getting Ready for the Road Less Traveled

You don’t have to look far to see wonderful images of people adventuring and traveling overland with their pups. Social media is a non-stop stream of beautiful sceneries, incredible rigs and majestic dogs doing rustic outdoors things.

But when it comes to our four legged best friends in the outdoors, is all as picture perfect as it seems?

After living in a Jeep with my Vizsla, I can say definitively… Yes. And no. It’s both. And no matter what, much of the experience has to do with planning and training!

"...I do believe there have been more ups because of the amount of time and effort spent setting us up for success prior to hitting the road."

To be clear, traveling full-time with Monty cross-country these last few months has had its ups and downs. But I do believe there have been more ups because of the amount of time and effort spent setting us up for success prior to hitting the road. We spent six months preparing Monty, the jeep and myself for our plans to overland full-time.

I began training Monty as soon as he was old enough to be outside and on trail. Being a working dog by nature, he took to training exceptionally well, and I made sure he was an ace with basic obedience (sit, stay, come, etc).

Additionally, Monty is trained both on-leash and off-leash via an electronic training collar. This is extremely useful given the remote destinations overlanding often leads us. It’s a lot like having a radio to communicate with your fellow overlanders on trail. Monty’s eCollar is purely a means for me to “talk him through” situations. Like that one time I recalled him to my side because a pack of coyotes was up ahead…

Overlanding With Your Dog
Overlanding With Your Dog

Vehicle Preparation is Key

And then there’s vehicle preparation. I went into building-out a 2017 Jeep Unlimited Rubicon with my dog in-mind. I let go of the romantic vision of a RTT and built an interior sleeping/storage platform system instead. This has worked very well, not only allowing us to stealth camp, but also allowing Monty a comfortable place to be when off-road.

Overlanding With Your Dog

Training Monty to be a well-behaved “overland hound” and configuring my Jeep was the easy piece of the puzzle. Convincing Monty the Jeep is the coolest way to get around was another story. In fact, traveling with Monty can be as wonderful as getting a tooth pulled. He sounds like he’s going to kill something when I stop to fuel up, and he cries in my ear when we turn off pavement and hit dirt. (I’m pretty sure it’s not of joy.)

Because driving is not Monty’s favorite part of overlanding, it’s up to me to ensure a balance of road time and outdoors time. I remain patient with his dramatics because his level of happy and joy when we arrive to camp is next level. This dog has no problem living his best life outside. It’s also in those moments I feel traveling with a dog as a companion enhances the experience. Monty’s presence helps me see the locations we visit differently.

Overlanding With Your Dog

Seeing the World Through the Eyes of a Dog

Tending to him has also led to spending more time outside of the Jeep hiking and exploring, which is a nice change of pace when vehicle-supported travel is the name of the game. If we spend all our time behind the wheel we miss the hidden gems. When you travel with a dog, you have to stop, get out and take a walk about! Some of our best campsites have been found all because Monty sniffed them out and found the otherwise hidden access road. He also makes me more aware of hidden dangers, signs and hints the location is not ideal and we should move on.

And now that we’ve been on the road for a chunk of time, we have our routine down. Every morning I get some work done, and then Monty and I get out for a hike before hunkering in behind the wheel for the next leg of travel.

Having a daily routine on the road is important, and make sure your buddy gets plenty of opportunities to run and stretch. And nap. (Don't forget the naps.)

All the Little Things

We stop often to ensure he’s drinking plenty of water especially as we explore terrain at higher and drier elevations/regions. We carry twice the recommended volume of water. He’s fed a high quality dry kibble to ensure he is physically up for the day’s adventures, always. I can not stress enough feeding your pup the best you can afford.

I also have a beefier than normal first aid kit on hand for his potential injuries. Whenever we get to camp, I inspect his paws and nails for any sign of damage, cuts, scrapes, etc and tend to anything before it has a chance to become a Yelp search for the nearest vet. I also travel with a paper copy of his medical history, vaccinations and necessary flea/tick and heartworm medications.

Overlanding With Your Dog
Overlanding with your Dog

And Lastly... Don't Sweat the Mud

Here’s the most important thing to remember when overlanding with your dog – PLAY with your overland hound every chance you can. Let them snuggle with you at camp and get over the muddy/dirty paw prints all over your leather seats. Accept you’ll wake up to their rear-end in your face, but also know they will love you more for bringing them on adventure with you. I would not want to imagine my overlanding dreams without Monty by my side. I look into his eyes at the end of each day and it’s a blast to see how far we have come.

Overlanding With Your Dog
Photography by C.T. Bell @charlestbell for Blue Ridge Overland Gear

Jennifer and Monty are traveling across the country to photograph and document the stories of those fighting cancer in some of the most remote regions of North America. She spent 2017 working with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation collecting photo stories of women battling cancer and its impact on their daily life.

Learn more about Jennifer’s work and her plans for 2018 and beyond on her website www.photosthatunite.com.

To contribute to her efforts, please visit her GoFundMe page.

Jennifer Langille

Hello! I'm photographer + writer currently on the road living/working full-time out of my 2017 Jeep Unlimited Rubicon photographing those impacted by #cancer


Instagram @jennifer.langille / @photosthatunite

Instagram @mondayswithmonty

Comment(44)

  1. Great Article! That's one happy doggo!

    Sometimes it's strange how random things line up. I'm working on buying both a new overland rig AND my first puppy in the next month. I was wondering about traveling with a dog and here's an article about traveling full time with a dog…That's convenient!

    1. That’s exciting and it’ll be an exciting (and at time possible stressful time) but all worth it once you are both out on the trail together! Thank you for reading! Jenn + Monty

  2. We take our mutts everywhere. They recently experianced getting their paws wet in the Arctic Ocean in Tuk. One of our dogs is deaf (Molly the BC Husky mix), is very mellow, and sleeps pretty much the entire time we are moving. Our other dog (Ichabod the Catahoula) is a very anxious traveler with a very high prey drive, who is usually always on-point. We try to limit his space and outside stimulus to reduce tension, and we give him a product called Composure, when we travel which helps reduce anxiety. I couldn't imagine the journey without them.

    1. I love this! I hope to bring Monty to Alaska with our book project next year and do the same. Safe journeys to you and your “pack” and thank you so much for sharing (and reading!) Cheers, Jenn + Monty

  3. Thanks for your sharing your dog and travel experience. Most of my travels are in National Parks or State Parks for hiking into back county unfortunately most do not allow dogs on the trails. Reasons are fairly obvious. See you on the trails.

    1. That has posed some challenges when we’ve traveled through the N.P. system this year. Though it also inspired me to be more curious about traveling and exploring our National Forest where dogs are welcomed. Safe travels in the backcountry and thank you for reading! Jenn + Monty

  4. My girlfriend and I just started traveling without dogs. This weekend we realized it’s time to invest in some pup shoes because of tree sap sticking in their paws.

    1. You know, that has happened to Monty a few times, not often enough to warrant booties (yet.) I’d love to hear how they work for you guys! They are on the gear list for Monty going into the winter. Thank you for reading and all the best from Monty and I!

  5. My girlfriend and I just started traveling with our dogs. This weekend we realized it’s time to invest in some pup shoes because of tree sap sticking in their paws.

  6. great article! We take our pup everywhere and I especially agree with the “best food you can afford” statement. Sasha has hiked many a long hard day in the sierras and they deserve good, high quality nutrition to fuel them.
    I do want to ask, what do you include in your pet first aid kit? I’ve got gauze and tweezers and her flea and tick meds….what are you using for ointments or medicine for his paws?

    1. Ooo… such a wonderful question and I don’t (but should) create a better list/inventory of this. For his paws I actually have this ointment/balm that’s from Vermont with beeswax, and other ingredients that’s ok if they lick it off (which Monty has a tendency to do if I don’t keep him moving.) It’s worked well especially in the winter, though generally speaking there are a number of good ones out there if you scope out the shelves at your local feed store. Otherwise, for cuts and such I keep tubes of Neosporin, spray bottle of antiseptic (a lot easier to apply,) rubbing alcohol, and with all this – a battery of bandages to wrap things like paws up really good given how active he is. Oh and quick-stop bleeding powder. That’s very handy to have if they break a toenail, or get a cut on their ear (which bleed like crazy!) I also have a bottle of dog-safe pain medication which we acquired from our Vet. Other than that, much of what a “human” first aid kits has, just a bit more of items like wraps, gauze and anything to clean up cuts and such. Hope that helps! Thank you for reading and safe travels on the trail!

  7. We take our mutts everywhere. They recently experianced getting their paws wet in the Arctic Ocean in Tuk. One of our dogs is deaf (Molly the BC Husky mix), is very mellow, and sleeps pretty much the entire time we are moving. Our other dog (Ichabod the Catahoula) is a very anxious traveler with a very high prey drive, who is usually always on-point. We try to limit his space and outside stimulus to reduce tension, and we give him a product called Composure, when we travel which helps reduce anxiety. I couldn't imagine the journey without them.

    Great pics!

  8. Nice story, I miss having a dog but there are simply too many places a dog cannot go. We have in the past and will in the future be crossing the border into Canada and Mexico. Europe and Australia are within our grasp. National Parks, and backpacking? NDA. Once we are done traveling, I’ll definitely be getting another Aussie.

    1. It’s for sure a challenge when visiting our N.P.s though I’ve been informed that’s not the case in Canada where most are welcoming of dogs. Those I know who have traveled to Canada and Mexico have crossed the borders with their pups with proper paperwork – now Europe and Australia would for sure be a challenge! Monty and I spent a great deal of time exploring our National Forests and BLM lands and was perfect for traveling with a pup. Thank you fro reading and sounds like you have some wonderful adventure in the planning! Cheers from Monty and I

    1. That it is. Last year I had to say good-bye to my first Vizsla ‘Fayston’ who loved road trips, adored camping and was an all around wonderful adventure companion. Much love to Remi who doesn’t look a day older than seven!

  9. Great article Jennifer! Sounds like you’re really trying to think through as much as you can in advance with Monty. My wife and I won’t be overlanding full time like you and Monty, but we’re preparing in a similar way with our Chinook, Buck. Our niece is another part time overlander with her Bernese Mtn. Dog. Chinooks are a sled dog breed, and also super snugglers. Buck, at a little over a year and a half, got over gas station and post office stops pretty quickly. He does get highly vocal as soon as we get off pavement – or head up the mountain – but it’s with excitement about hitting the trail. Buck’s had obedience and agility training and rattlesnake aversion training. He’s also had some eCollar training and I will be getting additional eCollar training with him next week. I’ll check out your link and look forward to following your adventures and work. Let us know if you get to Taos sometime.

    1. Thank you for reading and following out story! How’s the eCollar training coming along? We’ll be coming through Taos area sometime in late November/early December! Happy trails from Monty and I!

      1. Started with Herm Sprenger prong collar then using eCollar for recall on long line. He’s getting the hang of it and a totally different dog at heel in town with the prong. We ran into a mtn. lion kill last week, then Buck sussed out the cat. Big cat growl. I called Buck off – which he smartly agreed to – and we headed back down the trail. Let me know if you need any Taos info. My wife and I would be glad to help. Safe travels!

        1. Goodness, sounds like something of an adventure, though on our travels people were far more concerned with us encountering a mountain lion than a bear! Glad it ended ok! I would love to explore Taos, never been! When it comes closer will circle back around here!

    1. Incredible rig and gorgeous dog – LOVE Ridgebacks. Occasionally people ask if Monty is one, and I chuckle because while he is not a small dog, he’s about 1/2 that of a Ridgeback! LOL

  10. We are working on design for our gypsy wagon that will include two gypsy dogs.  Any suggestions for cooling for times we might need to leave the dogs for a few hours and it's hot outside?  We'll have power and I'm wondering if an evaporative cooling unit might work.

    1. If you have the auxiliary power to support, any sort of portable A/C and fan, plus really insulating will help deflect the heat in the warmer regions. This was a challenge for Monty and I. I simply took him everywhere and timed grocery runs and such early in the morning or after the sun went down. I also have battery-powered fans, non-spill water bowls and portable shower I fill and use to wet him down to help him stay cooler when it’s hot. Much of my travels the last two months have been influenced by the hot weather and avoiding! :/ Look forward to seeing how your wagon comes along! Please post photos!

  11. Goodness, sounds like something of an adventure, though on our travels people were far more concerned with us encountering a mountain lion than a bear! Glad it ended ok! I would love to explore Taos, never been! When it comes closer will circle back around here!

    Here's the boy: 

  12. Hey Jennifer, really like your story. Monty looks like he’s enjoying the outdoors and adventure. I too travel with a Vizsla (Vegas) they’re lots of fun aren’t they? keep on exploring.

    A

    Hey Jennifer, great story and thanks for sharing. Enjoyed the tips. Travelled through Southwest US in May and had a ball with my Vizsla (Vegas). keep on exploring.

    Al
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  13. Now that the weather is getting cooler – dropping to 40F at night (though days are 75F) – what do people do to keep their dogs warm at night when in a tent (or in my case an AT Habitat)? Remi has a thick coat for a corgi, but does not like to be covered up at night, but will get in the sleeping bag with us if it gets too cold. There aren't many great tent heating options – Mr Heater is too risky to run at night, though we have used a small one in the morning to take the chill out. And Zodi tent heaters have either been discontinued or out of stock for ever. Suggestions…?

    1. Monty and I don’t do a lot of ground camping due to our interior build. I’ve made reflective insulating panels for the interior of the Jeep to help maintain a warmer interior temp to keep us both warmer. I tend to run the heater (Jeep) till it’s silly toasty ahead of bed and instead of a sleeping bag, have found thick sleeping pad, proper layering (smart wool, etc) and a fleece blanket with down comforter have kept Monty and I quite toasty, He often thermoregulates and sleeps on top till late morning when the chill really seeps in and then can be found curled up UNDER the blankets at the foot of our bed (makes for a wonderful foot warmer!) They are fairly intuitive with wanting to be warm and think the trick is being comfortable with letting them snuggle up when cold weather camping, vs maybe having them in their own space/spot. 🙂

  14. Now that the weather is getting cooler – dropping to 40F at night (though days are 75F) – what do people do to keep their dogs warm at night when in a tent (or in my case an AT Habitat)? Remi has a thick coat for a corgi, but does not like to be covered up at night, but will get in the sleeping bag with us if it gets too cold. There aren't many great tent heating options – Mr Heater is too risky to run at night, though we have used a small one in the morning to take the chill out. And Zodi tent heaters have either been discontinued or out of stock for ever. Suggestions…?

    We just went camping in CO south of Telluride in the mountains and stayed in our trailer without the heat on.  My wife and I were comfy in our sleeping bags, and Buck was comfy in a nest I made for him at the foot of the bed.  In your rig, sounds like your dog would be fine if you used duffles to surround a well insulated sleeping pad.

  15. I've camped with my dog in the early spring and fall when it gets in to the 30s in the sierras. I have a moving pad that I keep in the jeep that is her bed. When I camp that pad goes in the tent so she has "her spot". I also have a kids sleeping bag I got at kmart or target or someplace that is smaller and inexpensive. With the moving pad to keep her insulated from the ground and the sleeping bag to curl up in, she seems pretty content. (of course in the morning when I get up to make coffee, she immediately crawls in the bag and takes my spot next to the better half)

  16. I love camping with my dog.  Sadie is a Bluetick Coonhound.  She’s great company, she doesn’t complain, and she loves to just chill.  The only thing she doesn’t like is getting cold, so as long as i have blankets she’s good. 

  17. I use wool blankets from a website called alpaca4less.com.  My hound likes to be covered with them.  My retriever likes to lay on them.  Either way they provide excellent insulation from the ground when they are bunched up or folded and that makes all the difference for pups in a tent.  The best part is that they are really affordable as wool blankets go.

  18. Dogs are the best!  I went hiking with my GF and her chocolate lab yesterday. I generally find hiking boring (if it's rideable on my mountainbike, I'd much rather do that), but with a dog along it was a blast.  Watching him run up and down the trail and clamber up and over rocks was so entertaining.  He's been an apartment dog his whole life, until last year with him at 8 y/o I started taking him running with me. Recently it's been hiking, and who knew he was part mountain goat? My gf was amazed at how much he likes being in woods.  Fortunately, all the training she did with him when he was a puppy paid off, as he's a perfect gentleman off leash, he doesn't chase animals or birds, and leaves other dogs and people alone unless he's given permission.

     

    I also took him mountainbiking with me once last fall, and he was great at that too. He likes to run, so with me on the bike he got to stretch his legs a bit.

     

    I don't have a rig yet, I'm currently in a spirited debate with myself over what to get, but whatever it is will have room for a dog (or two), as I want to get my own soon.

  19. We were in the sierras this past weekend and the mornings were cold and windy….probably mid 30s…..As soon as I got up to make coffee, the dog took my spot….she REALLY doesn't like to be cold.

  20. Jennifer it was nice meeting you and Monty and chatting around the ENH firepit @ the Vermont Overland Rally. Cara and myself look forward to crossing trails with you again someday…be good to you and Monty and be safe.

    1. Hello Glenn and Cara! The feeling was completely mutual, what a wonderful evening and the most beautiful campfire ever! I hope adventures bring us all back together on the trail! Cheers from both Monty and I!

  21. Thanks for all the suggestions, camping the last few days with Remi up in Mendocino – got down to about 40F – he was good with a light blanket. Heading to the desert end of December and we will have a propex heater to keep us all warm.

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