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Traveling With Dogs — Wisconsin

August 19th, 2010

This is a travelogue of various states and places that are great to take a break, stop and/or stay if you have dogs with you on your trip. It is geared for keeping dogs relaxed while traveling.

I thought, since I travel the country speaking and training, and almost always have three dogs with me, that passing along my discoveries, likes, and dislikes, might help you as you wend down roads less traveled with you pets.

I will be titling it Traveling With Dogs and then add the state or area I’m focusing on at the moment. It will rarely include interstates as they are an anathema if you want to get out and give your dog(s) a real break.

Even the best dog, when traveling, can become a tad stressed or need to blow off some serious energy. They need to get back to a relaxed state and motel rooms just don’t do it for them. The places we chose to stay allow the dogs outside time, grass-rolling opportunities, fresh air, new things to watch, fantastic new smells, and an opportunity to simply lay around at the end of a long day of traveling.

Wisconsin has very, very nice rest stops if you must travel the interstate. They are spaced evenly, have many trees and good dog areas, the buildings are clean, people friendly and they are staffed with volunteers ready to ply you with free coffee, lemonade, tea and/or cookies.

The rest stops’ green areas extend back behind the truck parking area and offer a very nice place to walk the dogs safely, or if your dogs are well-behaved enough to allow them to walk and explore a bit off-leash. These are great places in a pinch.

Cave of the Mounds/Blue Mounds State Park is beautiful. It’s off of US 18/151 on Cave of the Mounds Rd. The Cave of the Mounds has a wonderful green area with picnic tables, it is quiet, until children come for tours, it is a safe place to follow a couple of walking trails or simply sit after letting the dogs stretch their legs. Our dogs were happy and grateful to escape the noise of the car, roll in the grass, sniff the various plants and then snooze under the picnic table until lunch was finished.

The Alma/Hixton KOA, up by the Wisconsin Dells is one of the nicest KOAs around. It is set in a serene bowl with wonderful trees, the cabins are in good locations and the owner is a wonderful, generous person. It was relaxing to be able to let the dogs walk the perimeter and investigate without anyone getting upset. There are many rabbits and raccoons in the woods, so if your dog isn’t capable of ignoring on command or doesn’t have an iron-clad recall, just keep her on a leash, she will still enjoy the quiet and smells.

The Madison KOA, on the edge of town, is run by some very nice, friendly, helpful people. They have a large tent camping area that is wide-open and since no one was there we played ball and frisbee with the dogs for quite a while. It made the sleeping all the better to have taken the edge of their energy.

Wisconsin’s back roads are wonderful if you are traveling with dogs. They have large areas open almost everywhere, if you know where to look. Here are some suggestions:

Behind or around churches there are often fields. The same holds true for farm implement dealers. They have some, but not many, wayside stops that make a good place to take breaks. There are so many small, open areas on Wisconsin’s back roads it makes it easy to let the dogs out for water, walks, and to stretch their legs. Often you are the only person there and the road is quite a distance from you, so you need not worry about traffic.

Even around the big cities, such as Madison or Milwaukee, all these places can be easily found.

Wisconsin is, in my estimation, a good back-roads traveling state if you have your dogs with you. You will also be enamored of their lakes, countryside and charming small towns full of character. You dog will be enamored of the quality breaks you offer him.

My advice? Take a little more time and get off the interstate. You and your dog will enjoy the trip much more.

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