How To Plan a Trip to Canada With Your Dog

How To Plan a Trip to Canada With Your Dog

  • Erin Swanson

Ruffwear Ambassadors Noodle (the Scooter Dog) and Shamus (and their humans, Bree and Kyle) just went exploring across the Canadian border. Here’s what they learned.

Rolling Through the Canadian Rockies

For the last three years, we’ve planned an end of summer road trip with Noodle, Shamus, and our van, Elmer. This year the Canadian Rockies were top of the list after the last two summers of the pandemic limited travel. We live very close to the Canadian border and have brought our pups up to Vancouver frequently, but never for an adventure this long.

How To Cross the Canadian Border With Dogs

A man and two dogs rest in a camper van.

Check Canada’s Official Policy

We first rechecked the status of bringing animals across the border since it had been a long time. (Here is the official Canadian policy for traveling with pets.)

The website has drop-down choices to build out your specific scenario based on animal and age. For Noodle and Shamus, traveling for personal reasons, it was easy breezy – we just needed rabies vaccination proof. The border patrol does have the right to stop crossing if the appearance of the dog is sickly. We always have a little anxiety about this one given Noodle’s spinal cord injury, but so far so good.

A woman and her dog smile and pose for the camera.

Bring Vet Records

I keep vet records digitally, but to be safe I stopped by our vet to get signed copies. Shamus and Noodle, who both typically bark incessantly at drive-thrus and strangers, never seem to bark at the border crossing guards. I think they sense our nervousness.

I would say 90% of the time we have crossed the border with the dogs, we have not been asked to show proof of rabies. But, this trip we did. Luckily, it was a quick glance at the signed forms and on we went.

Prior times, we have been picked for a random search which requires a lengthy explanation to the guard about removing Noodle and her scooter from the vehicle before inspection. She causes quite the scene with all the border guards coming to meet her in her wheels.

A dog wearing a Ruffwear Front Range® Harness runs through grass.

Know the Rules About Food & Treats

Another important regulation pertaining to dogs crossing the border has to do with food and treats. The packages must be sealed by the manufacturer and there are limitations to the amount being transported. Read up on Canada’s rules for transporting pet food here.

How To Explore Canada’s Trails With Dogs

A man and his dog who is using a dog wheelchair walk on a trail in Canada.

Research Dog-Friendly Trails & National Parks

Once in Canada, we visited Mount Revelstoke National Park, Mount Robson Provincial Park, Jasper National Park, and Banff National Park. We then headed down to Rossland for a little hotel stay and some creature comforts for all.

Unlike the United States National Parks that essentially restrict all dog activity to campgrounds and parking lots, we did not struggle finding trails and sights that allowed dogs on leashes in the above national parks. You can learn more about guidelines for bringing dogs into Canada’s national parks here.

A dog using a dog wheelchair smiles on a trail in Canada.

Find the Right Fit for dogs with disabilities

We explored some Noodle-approved trails including Peyto Lake, Kinky Lake Loop (outside the parks), and Maligne Canyon. Noodle and Kyle tackled a 20+ mile bike ride along Bow Valley Parkway to Johnston Canyon while Shamus and I hiked Moose Meadows.

A local in Banff told us about Bow Valley Parkway. Banff National Park has closed this road to vehicles on the shoulder seasons to bring out more bikers and continue a 3-year pilot program to allow cyclists a great ride without worrying about vehicles. Local input like this and the All Trails app have been so valuable to us in finding accurate details on trail conditions, length, and gain to help us decide if Noodle can participate in the chosen activity.

A dog hitched to the Ruffwear Knot-a-Hitch™ sits on an Urban Sprawl™ dog bed while camping.

Bring Must-Have Dog Gear

The Fernie™ Dog Sweater is a must for Noodle at night. With her spinal cord injury, temperature regulation is more challenging and keeping her warm is very important to her health. The other “can’t function without” camper van gear for our dogs would be the Basecamp™ Dog Bed to keep Noodle on something soft for skin protection and the Knot-a-Hitch™ to keep Shamus on leash at camp but still free to roam and patrol.

Plan for Unpredictable Weather

With our trip being in September, we packed for all weather possibilities. And we got them – rain to hail, hot sun to 28 degree mornings, and unfortunately smoke from fires. We were prepared, well at least the dogs were. I had to buy myself some warmer clothes, wishful thinking on my part that summer is still here.

A Must See & Must Return

Our trip finished up at a sassy little hotel on Red Mountain that is dog friendly. Unfortunately, multiple fires by this point limited the desire and health of being outdoors for hiking, so we rested and caught up on college ball. Our trip was long, gorgeous, and worth all the planning. A must see and a must return as soon as we can get more time off.

Want to see more of Bree, Kyle, Noodle, & Shamus? Follow along at @noodsterscootster.

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