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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(25)

  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!

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