7 Tips for Taking a Road Trip with Your Dog - Simply For Dogs
Road Trip With Dog

7 Tips for Taking a Road Trip with Your Dog

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

When I was a kid, summer always meant a road trip. We would hop in the car and head to Grandma’s house, two states away. The trip could have taken just a day, but having a young child along, and not being masochists, my parents chose to split the trip into two days. We always stayed in the same motel halfway between our house and Grandma’s, and we even started to develop some traditions about where would stop along the way.

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300-Count Earth Rated Unscented Dog Waste Bags on a Single Roll for Pantries and Outdoor Waste Stations (not on small rolls)
Car Seat Covers for Dogs - Washable - Waterproof - with Non-Slide Back Side - Pet Hammock for Car -Easy Installing Bench Seat Cover with Straps and Belt Holes -Comes with Storage Bag and Dog Seat Belt
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Weiss Walkie No Pull Dog Leash, Large, Black
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300-Count Earth Rated Unscented Dog Waste Bags on a Single Roll for Pantries and Outdoor Waste Stations (not on small rolls)
300-Count Earth Rated Unscented Dog Waste Bags on a Single Roll for Pantries and Outdoor Waste Stations (not on small rolls)
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Last update on 2018-11-18 at 23:45 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

All of that was before I got my first dog. Suddenly, that year’s annual road trip didn’t seem so appealing to me. My parents weren’t interested in taking the dog along, and I was panicked at the idea of my buddy staying in some anonymous boarding place. Luckily, we were able to compromise by leaving my dog with friends, who I trusted and the dog knew. But I always wondered why my parents never wanted to even try. After all, I’ve road tripped with a dog before, and it was the best vacation I ever took. But I guess I could be biased.

If you’re planning the annual summer road trip for the family, or you’ve stumbled on this article when you’re planning your spring break road trip or a Thanksgiving trip, don’t fear! You can definitely bring your dog, and I promise it will be a fantastic trip. Here are some tips for making the trip successful for everyone.

(1) Prepare Your Dog Early

Before you ever start worrying about what you need to pack, or how to schedule in enough stops for your dog, you need to make sure that your dog is prepared for any situation you may encounter. This means that you need to trust that your dog will:

  • Not pull on their leash when walking, even in a new environment
  • Heel on command, every single time
  • Greet new dogs and people socially and without jumping
  • Wait in the car until you explicitly tell them they can get out

These behaviors are very important in new situations and when on the road, so be sure you start practicing them now while you plan. Traveling practice can be very fun, and you don’t have to do much. Drive to the dog park instead of walking, and practice all the things above. Then drive somewhere that you are familiar with, but your dog may not know. Even if you just drive to a nearby neighborhood with good sidewalks, park, and take a walk in an area you’ve not walked before, this can help your dog start to get used to the idea. Try bumping up the practice time in the car from a few minutes to an hour, to two hours, and so on, until you are confident that your dog will follow the rules no matter how far from home you get.

(2) What Do You Need to Pack?

After you know that your dog is ready to be a good traveler, it’s time to make a packing list. There are three basic groups of items to consider with a dog.

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  • Care Items: Your dog needs food, water, medications, vet records, and doggie waste bags. These five things will care for your dog’s most immediate needs. If you aren’t sure how to travel with water and a water bowl, you’re in luck! You can get a nifty water bottle/bowl combo that is very easy to use. You just fill up the bottle and attach the folding water bowl. When you want to give your dog a drink, unfold the bowl and the water will dispense. When it’s time to go, just dump whatever is in the bowl, fold it back up, and you’re ready. You’ll just need to carry some extra water to fill up the water bottle to keep things easy. Measure out your dog’s food in a plastic bag for the trip, and be sure to bring a little extra just in case of emergencies.

 

  • Comfort Items: The next thing to consider is what your dog needs to feel comfortable. This means making them less anxious so they can relax. Your dog might need a chew toy, their favorite blanket, and some treats. If they don’t have a blanket they sleep with, consider at least putting down some comfy covering in your car – not only does it give them a soft place to lay down, it also keeps your seats from getting all hairy. If you are road tripping in the fall when it’s getting a bit chilly, and your dog is small or has a short coat, you may also want to consider a sweater or something else to keep your dog comfortable.

 

  • Boredom Busters: Finally, you’ll want to pack some things to do that will keep your dog from getting bored. A bored dog is a destructive, anxious dog, so be sure to really think about what keeps your dog busy. Some peanut butter in a Kong? Kibble inside a treat ball? A chew toy that has tons of different textures and bits to gnaw on? Be sure to bring along toys that you can play with on your pit stops as well, like a fetch disc or a tug of war rope.

(3) Get Them Checked Out Before You Go

Before you head out on your road trip, it’s a good idea to stop by the vet, even if your dog isn’t due for a checkup. You’ll want to make sure that they are up-to-date on all vaccines, and that you have current records of those vaccines in paper form. A written certificate of health from your vet may also be prudent. On the off chance that something does happen, you’ll want to be able to prove on the spot that your dog is safe. It also helps to have a recent photo of your dog attached to these documents. Not only does it add an extra layer of proof that your dog is healthy, it can also be very handy to have a paper photo if your dog runs off in a strange place.

Having a physical before traveling can ensure that any anxiety or bad behavior on the trip isn’t due to a health problem. This helps you manage things better, and will generally ensure that you can trust your dog to be on good behavior during the trip.

Additionally, if your dog is not microchipped already, your stop at the vet should include a discussion about this procedure at the very least. Should your dog get lost in an unfamiliar place, it is unlikely that he’ll just wander back home. A microchip ensures that the two of you can be reunited in the worst case scenario.

Road Trip With Dog

(4) Schedule Dog-Friendly Stops

Before you make your travel itinerary, you’ll want to be sure that your dog will be welcome at all your stops. Unless you plan to eat in the car for every meal, or picnic your way along your road trip, you’ll want to search out dog-friendly restaurants, as well as dog-friendly hotels, rest stops, stores, and more. Of course, you’ll be stopping for potty breaks and walks along the way. But if it’s just you and your dog, even knowing where a pet-friendly pet supply store is along the way can give you both a much needed change of scenery. You don’t have to buy anything – it just lets you be around humans for a moment, in a place where your dog is welcome.

Additionally, take note of where emergency pet services are located along your trip. You likely won’t need them, but it’s a good idea to know where a few places may be along the way.

(5) Make a Canine First-Aid Kit

Things happen, and when you’re at home, it’s easy to deal with a splinter or a minor cut from the bathroom medicine cabinet. On the road, though, you may not have thought to bring the things you need in case of a mild injury like this. Here are some things to stock in your doggie first-aid kit:

  • Tweezers
  • Gauze
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Muzzle, if your dog gets snappish when hurt
  • Extra towel
  • Styptic powder for bleeding nails
  • A small flashlight
  • Nail clippers
  • Vet wrap

This kit will cover the majority of small injuries that you are likely to encounter on the road. You may also want to keep a few phone numbers of emergency pet services along your route in the kit.

(6) Keep Your Pet Safe While Driving

During your road trip, it’s not a good idea for your dog to be wandering the car. First, it’s not safe for them. Second, there’s a chance they could hinder your driving with a tail in the face, or by trying to climb in your lap. It’s best to keep them still in one place.

For some pets, a travel carrier or a kennel is the best option. Here, they can be comfortable with their bed and toys, and it may help anxious dogs feel more comfortable to be in this environment. Another option is a dog harness. You can either get a version that comes with a harness and a safety belt, good for dogs that are leash trained; or you can get just safety belts that attach to your dog’s existing harness. These devices allow your dog to be in the car with you, hanging out and having fun, while keeping them safe. They are also easier for you if you’re planning plenty of potty breaks and exercise stops along the way.

(7) Finally, Plan Your Days

Now that you’ve got all that prep out of the way, you can plan your actual road trip! On the first day of road tripping, it’s a good idea to not feed your dog a huge breakfast. He may get car sick or just be so excited that his tummy is a little wobbly. Let him have a smaller portion if he’s used to eating first thing, and save the rest for a stop along the way.

It’s also a good idea to be sure that your dog is exercised and a little worn out before getting in the car. They won’t be as apt to jump around and get excited, and they’ll be more likely to simply sit and watch out the window, or even take a nap. This lets you get on the road without drama.

Don’t forget that young dogs need to use the bathroom 15 minutes after they eat. It’s a good idea to schedule a longer break during feeding times, rather than trying to eat and run. This is not the time to hold back on treats, either; during your road trip, let your dog know that they are being a good car passenger with plenty of praise and treats.

Be sure to keep things fun for your dog! Dogs don’t really understand what you’re doing when you go on a road trip. For them, this is less an exciting adventure, and more an unanswered question. Where are you going? How long will you be there? Will you be going back home? Dogs don’t really know any of this, so they have a harder time feeling the “fun” of the journey. So, it’s up to you to make sure that your dog is having fun along the way.

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Weiss Walkie No Pull Dog Leash, Large, Black
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Car Seat Covers for Dogs - Washable - Waterproof - with Non-Slide Back Side - Pet Hammock for Car -Easy Installing Bench Seat Cover with Straps and Belt Holes -Comes with Storage Bag and Dog Seat Belt
KONG Chew Toy, Large, Blue
{FREE MASSAGE BRUSH and BAG INCLUDED} RollinPets Nail Pet Clipper, The Best Dog Nail Clippers, These Dog Grooming Clippers are Sharp and Easy to Trim Dog Nails With Safety Stop and Locking switch
Weiss Walkie No Pull Dog Leash, Large, Black
300-Count Earth Rated Unscented Dog Waste Bags on a Single Roll for Pantries and Outdoor Waste Stations (not on small rolls)
Car Seat Covers for Dogs - Washable - Waterproof - with Non-Slide Back Side - Pet Hammock for Car -Easy Installing Bench Seat Cover with Straps and Belt Holes -Comes with Storage Bag and Dog Seat Belt
KONG Chew Toy, Large, Blue
{FREE MASSAGE BRUSH and BAG INCLUDED} RollinPets Nail Pet Clipper, The Best Dog Nail Clippers, These Dog Grooming Clippers are Sharp and Easy to Trim Dog Nails With Safety Stop and Locking switch
$24.95
$11.99
$69.99
$17.85
$145.99
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-
-
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Weiss Walkie No Pull Dog Leash, Large, Black
Weiss Walkie No Pull Dog Leash, Large, Black
$24.95
-
300-Count Earth Rated Unscented Dog Waste Bags on a Single Roll for Pantries and Outdoor Waste Stations (not on small rolls)
300-Count Earth Rated Unscented Dog Waste Bags on a Single Roll for Pantries and Outdoor Waste Stations (not on small rolls)
$11.99
-
Car Seat Covers for Dogs - Washable - Waterproof - with Non-Slide Back Side - Pet Hammock for Car -Easy Installing Bench Seat Cover with Straps and Belt Holes -Comes with Storage Bag and Dog Seat Belt
Car Seat Covers for Dogs - Washable - Waterproof - with Non-Slide Back Side - Pet Hammock for Car -Easy Installing Bench Seat Cover with Straps and Belt Holes -Comes with Storage Bag and Dog Seat Belt
$69.99
-
KONG Chew Toy, Large, Blue
KONG Chew Toy, Large, Blue
$17.85
-
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{FREE MASSAGE BRUSH and BAG INCLUDED} RollinPets Nail Pet Clipper, The Best Dog Nail Clippers, These Dog Grooming Clippers are Sharp and Easy to Trim Dog Nails With Safety Stop and Locking switch
{FREE MASSAGE BRUSH and BAG INCLUDED} RollinPets Nail Pet Clipper, The Best Dog Nail Clippers, These Dog Grooming Clippers are Sharp and Easy to Trim Dog Nails With Safety Stop and Locking switch
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Last update on 2018-11-18 at 23:45 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Final Verdict

Personally I think road trips with dogs are the best way to travel. They force you to get out of the car so you don’t get grumpy, and you can keep your road rage in check by making sarcastic comments to your rider, who doesn’t mind a bit. It’s a win-win for everyone. Now that I’m adult, I don’t tend to travel without taking my pups with me, and I encourage you to give it a try at least once. You may find that it’s a lot easier and much more fun than you realized. And you’ll never have a better co-pilot – they always let you pick the music!

Related Content:

How to Turn an Outdoor Dog into an Indoor Dog
Can Dogs Live Outdoors Full-Time?
The Perils of Tying Your Dog Outside

Sources:

https://www.thespruce.com/taking-puppy-on-a-road-trip-4019484

https://stories.barkpost.com/road-trip-tips-happy-dog/

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