Crossing Country Lines with Canines

by Kelsey Kagan (Instagram | Website)

Editor's Note: This is the first guest journal entry that I've invited into Weekend Roamer. This post is the start of an inclusivity campaign to show that the outdoors are a place welcome for all to explore. While I was starting to work on realigning to that mission this past August, my friend Kelsey Kagan was embarking on a mission of her own. Kelsey, her husband Ry, and their two beloved dogs Jasper and Osa set off to move from Salt Lake City, Utah to Portland, Oregon. But first, they decided to take a long detour to the Canadian Rockies, the Yukon, and Alaska. I was, and still am, so in awe with their journey. I hope that you will #JoinUsOutside and see how an adventure like this is possible for you too. Now, here's Kelsey Kagan. -Lexie

Kelsey’s dog, Jasper, living the glacier life in Alaska.

Kelsey’s dog, Jasper, living the glacier life in Alaska.

We knew that driving from Utah to Alaska would cross country borders, obviously, but what we didn’t realize was that we would do it a total of 12 times before our trip was through. Each time was a bit different, but we hope that this post will help you feel confident in traveling to and through Canada with your pooch.

  1. BRING PROPER PAPERWORK*: Your vet will happily help with this, but the required paperwork is a certification of current rabies vaccinations. Ours simply emailed us a copy of their records that states when their next shot was due, we printed them and highlighted that specific part, and had them with us at each border crossing.

  2. TRAVEL WITH A HEALTHY DOG: You should not travel with a sick pet regardless, but dogs with ailments will not be permitted across country lines.

  3. MICROCHIPS ARE NOT REQUIRED: But they are absolutely worth having in case your pup runs away, and on that note, make sure that if you do have a microchip, all of your information is up to date.

  4. COMMERCIALLY SEALED PET FOOD: Treats and food can cross the border, but it needs to have been packaged in the US. Also, if you plan on traveling for an extended period it’s a good idea to check where your particular brand is carried in Canada. Dogs with sensitive stomachs will appreciate the consistency.

Kelsey’s husband, Ryan, and her two dogs, Osa and Jasper, all smiles at Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada.

Kelsey’s husband, Ryan, and her two dogs, Osa and Jasper, all smiles at Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada.

Once you cross the border you will want to be prepared for life in the Great White North, here are some of our tips:

  1. CARRY BEAR SPRAY: this is just good practice, always, to protect you and your pup. It’s not just for bears; moose have been known to be incredibly aggressive during their rut season. I’ll take this tip one step further and say that you should know how to use the spray. 

  2. PACK LAYERS: think about what you’re packing for your own attire and consider the same for your dog. Booties? Blankets? A down jacket? Dogs get cold too, and hot. Their comfort should be a priority to you. Editor's Note: If your dog doesn't own a jacket, consider buying one from our friends at RuffWear. They also sell boots for dogs too.

  3. LEASH LAWS: one of the most exciting things about hiking in Canada with your dog is that you can finally bring them into National Parks! 6-foot leads are required, no matter how trail-savvy your dog is. Please, please, pack out any dog waste as well. Visiting NPs is such a luxury and fellow dog owners don’t want it to be taken away because of a few that don’t follow the rules. Editor's Note: For all of your leash buying needs, please visit our friends at RuffWear.

  4. WATER IS FAST AND COLD: Many of the rivers are glacier-fed, meaning they are cold as heck. If your pup loves to swim please take note of the current and temperature so they don’t ‘get in over their head.’ Editor's Note: If the water isn't too cold to swim, RuffWear also has life jackets for dogs on the market.

  5. GAS STATIONS: usually the perfect opportunity to let fido stretch his legs, but in Canada every gas station we went to had signs saying dogs were not allowed on the premises. Most had areas around the corner where you were able to let them out, but keep that in mind when you’re thinking about where and when to stop for potty breaks.

One of Kelsey, Osa, Jasper, and Ry’s many stops along the Alaska Highway.

One of Kelsey, Osa, Jasper, and Ry’s many stops along the Alaska Highway.

Above all, the most important thing to remember when traveling with your dog is that their safety and happiness is of the highest priority. If you need to alter your plans in order to meet this criteria, do it. 

*The Canada Inspection Agency offers a great tool to check what paperwork is necessary for your dog at this link:


Editor's Note: Special thanks to Kelsey, Ry, Jasper, and Osa for sharing their adventure how to's with us. Before your next adventure, consider buying the right equipment for your canine. Visit our friends at RuffWear to see what they have available.


A native of Portlandia, Kelsey Kagan and her husband Ryan took a risk and moved to Utah with their two dogs for a year to explore the deserts of Moab and Utah's five National Parks after work hours on the weekend like a true weekend roamer. After the year was up, they moved back to their native land of Portland, Oregon. As they are major outdoor enthusiasts, you can learn how to live a well-balanced, outdoor lifestyle by following Kelsey, Ry, Jasper, and Osa on Instagram @kelseykagan and

Alexandra Gritlefeld