Is your dog a fully-fledged family member? If you’re like most dog owners, your pooch is as much a part of your family as your children or spouse so taking your dog on a road trip with the rest of your family is only natural. You wouldn’t want to board him at a kennel while the rest of you are off having a ball.
Or maybe your family is smaller – just you and your dog. In that case, you definitely want to have him along on your road trip.
Some people worry that traveling hundreds of miles with their canine companion will be a chore, but it doesn’t have to be if you follow these few tips.
1. Update Your Pet’s Shots and License.
You will be traveling to places that are unfamiliar to your dog and perhaps even getting in contact with other dogs. To keep him safe, make sure his shots are up so he’s protected against any diseases other dogs might carry.
In addition, an up-to-date license will make it easier to locate him if the unthinkable happens and he gets separated from you.
2. Make a Couple of Dry Runs.
If possible, take your dog on a couple of shorter trips to help prepare him for your longer road trip. This is especially important if he’s not accustomed to riding in the car for longer than it takes to get to the vet.
Start with an all-day trip to see how well he travels for longer distances. If all goes well, then plan an overnight trip to see how well he adjusts to a new place.
After just a couple of these dry runs, your dog should be ready to hit the open road.
3. Check Out and Book Pet-Friendly Hotels Along Your Route.
You might be shocked to discover that not every hotel welcomes pets. But unfortunately, that’s a fact of life – and traveling.
As a result, your planning needs to include finding and booking pet-friendly hotels in advance so that your dog can stay with you throughout the trip. You may also want to determine the exact locations of rest stops that have dog areas for walking and playing.
4. Decide in Advance What You’ll Do About Eating.
Just like with hotels, you’ll need to choose eating establishments wisely. Dogs are not generally welcome at indoor restaurants. So you may decide to eat at fast food restaurants most of the time. Or you might prefer having picnics. Either way, be sure not to leave your dog inside a car with closed windows.
5. Pack Everything Your Dog Needs to be Comfortable and Safe.
You may not need to pack changes of clothing for your pooch, but in many respects, you’ll need to pack for him the same way you pack for yourself.
In other words, make sure your dog’s food, medication, water bowl, collar and leash, dog crate, and favorite toys are in the car before you take off. And don’t forget to bring along the pooper scooper and those doggy waste bags.
If you happen to forget anything, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding pet shops along the way. In fact, Fido might be thrilled to get some new stuff.
6. Have a Way to Restrain Your Dog in the Car.
Just as you need a seat belt for safety, so does your dog. Either get a doggy seat belt or keep your dog in a kennel while traveling.
Even well-trained dogs run away when they’re traveling in a car that’s involved in an accident. That’s when you’ll be happy you took the time to get a doggie seat belt or a crate for safety in case of a sudden stop or accident.
7. Give Your Pet Something to Do While in the Car.
Not all dogs enjoy sitting for long periods and watching the road as it passes. If your pet begins to be restless even after a rest stop, be prepared to give him something that will keep him occupied while you’re traveling – a chew toy or some other interesting plaything that will keep him busy.
8. Don’t Feed Your Dog Just Before Heading Out on the Major Part of Your Day’s Driving.
If you’re planning on spending a long day in the car, don’t feed your dog his main meal in the morning. Give him a few small snacks during the day to keep him satisfied, and then give him his full meal at the end of the day.
9. Stop Every Couple of Hours to Give Your Pet a Break.
Like small children, dogs can get restless riding in a car for long hours at a time. Stop every couple of hours to walk him for a few minutes and allow him to relieve himself.
10. Walk Your Pet Before Heading out in the Morning and Again Just Before Bedding Down for the Night.
Taking your dog for a long walk in the morning before taking off will allow him to be calm for the first couple hours of traveling. And walking him for at least 30 minutes before turning in for the night will allow him to rest better.
As long as you are prepared to accommodate both the physical and emotional needs of your pet while traveling, having your dog on your road trip can actually enhance your enjoyment.
Just don’t let your dog do any of the driving.