Going on tour is a big part of being a professional musician. For musicians that are also dog people, it can seem like torture to be without your pup for stretches at a time.
Bassist Catherine Popper copes by FaceTiming with her pups while on the road.
My pup Freenie spent about 6 weeks of her puppyhood on a tour bus crossing the country. Here she is with the tour manager’s pup, Norman:
If you’re lucky enough to be able to bring your dog along on the road, there are some considerations to be made. Whether you’re touring in a van, car, tour bus, or private plane, here are a few things to be aware of.
1. As much as pawssible, try to stick to a regular schedule.
Dogs thrive on routine anyway, but this will help keep you, your dog, and any bandmates or crew members sane. When it comes to eating, using the bathroom, and sleeping, try to stick to a schedule. Speaking of bathroom breaks…
2. Figure out your potty situation.
On a tour bus, there’s an understanding that going #2 in the bus toilet (for a human) isn’t good form. Same goes for dog business. Wait til you get to the rest stop!
3. Make sure you have all your provisions…
Food, pee pads, carrier, crate, toys, treats, chews, extra leashes and collars, poop bags, etc. Also make sure you know how to find a good vet in each city you play.
4. And documentation.
If you’re crossing borders you’ll need vet records, proof of rabies shots and other vaccinations. It won’t be easy to bring your dog to other countries, and it may be completely impawssible. Check ahead regarding quarantines and visas; it might be best to bring pup on domestic tours only.
5. Avoid theft, damage, or death.
What goes for your gear, goes for your pup! A tour bus isn’t the same as a car; your dog can probably stay on it if you step out for a bit, and the temperature won’t become extreme. There’s usually someone on the bus, whether driver, crew, or band. Just lock the doors when you go in for load-in and soundcheck! If you’re traveling by car or van, observe the same rules for leaving a dog in a car in extreme temperatures…DON’T DO IT. Don’t forget to buckle up! If you’re flying, make sure to follow these guidelines.
6. Are your accommodations dog-friendly?
If you’re not sleeping on a bus, make sure to book dog-friendly hotels. If you’re doing the DIY route and staying on friends’ floors and couches, confirm with your hosts (and their pets) that it’s cool if your dog crashes with you.
7. Check with the venue to see if your dog is allowed inside.
If so, yay, pup can chill in the green room and snack on the rider! If not, figure out if she’s staying at the hotel or with your hosts. Loud music can be very stressful for dogs and damage sensitive ears, so make sure she’s far enough away from the action.
8. Make sure it’s cool with your touring party.
If anyone’s allergic, nervous around dogs, or just not into pups, reconsider bringing your dog along.
9. If you’re going to go the hard-partying route, maybe you should consider leaving pup at home.
Look, I’m not going to tell you how to live your life. But you run the risk of not being able to keep a healthy schedule for your dog if you’re sleeping til 2pm every day, and you wouldn’t want your dog to accidentally consume any party substances.