The Complete Guide to Dog Friendly Road Trips
The image of driving on the open road with your furry friend’s tail wagging in the seat next to you is every pet parent’s dream.
Still, traveling with a dog takes a ton of preparation and care to ensure you and your pooch are ready for your next adventure on the road. Whether it’s knowing what to pack, how to prepare, or where to go, we’ve got the best tips and tricks to help when you’re planning your next road trip. Read on for the complete guide to a successful road trip with your best friend.
What Essentials Do I Need to Pack?
Ensuring you have everything your dog needs for a successful road trip is key to an enjoyable adventure for both you and them.
In the same way that it’s important for you to pack your travel essentials along with a few pieces of home when traveling, your dog has the same needs! Some of our recommended essentials to keep your puppy’s tail wagging include:
- Water and water bowl for hydration
- Food and food bowl
- Treats (stick to the favorites, no need to try anything new on a road trip)
- Toys (preferably noiseless for the sanity of the driver)
- Collar and leash
- Dog crate and your dog’s bed or favorite blanket
- Vet records and an up-to-date photo
- First aid kit with a tick remover
- Old towels to protect your seats
- Anxiety medication from the vet (if needed)
- Pet wipes to keep your pup clean
How Can I Get My Dog Used to Traveling by Car?
Although exciting, a new environment such as a car can increase anxiety in dogs. If your dog has yet to experience the tail-wagging thrill of sticking their head out of the car window, it may be helpful to practice riding in the car around town first. Driving around with your dog to get them acclimated to spending time in the car before the big trip will give them the exposure they need to keep calm for the long drive.
During your practice drives, be sure to reward your dog’s good behavior and divert undesirable behavior such as excessive barking, destructive actions, or other common anxiety symptoms.
Plan Your Route With Potty Breaks in Mind
Planning the perfect road trip takes time and preparation. When traveling with an animal, it is important to consider their needs as much as yours when planning bathroom breaks and time to stretch your legs. Consider routing your trip to include scenic stops where you can give your pup some time to exercise and go to the bathroom.
Remember, you don’t have to only use rest stops to rest — there are so many amazing places to stop along the way on your trip. A great use of this time would be to check out a new place that you otherwise may have driven right past!
Not sure where to start when planning your next road trip? Check out The Best Road Trip Routes in the USA to get started!
How Can I Find Pet-Friendly Lodging?
After a long day of travel, there’s nothing like settling down for the evening for a good night’s rest before hitting the road. To ensure you don’t run into any issues with your doggo’s hotel reservation, book pet-friendly lodging in advance.
Another option for lodging is camping! Camping provides plenty of space for your dog to roam (safely on their leash, of course) and use the bathroom, and you get to experience the wonder of the Great Outdoors.
Wherever you choose to stay, remember to keep both you and your dog in mind so that you both can get the rest you need for another day on the road.
Don’t Forget to Prepare for Emergencies!
There’s never a pleasant time to talk about “what-ifs.” Still, being prepared for the worst is never a bad thing. In case of an emergency, it is crucial to have either physical or digital up-to-date medical records from your vet along with your dog’s tags. In addition to this documentation, you should also keep a current photo of your doggo on hand.
To go the extra mile (and for peace of mind), consider researching local vets and animal hospitals near your rest stops and destination — just in case.
What Are the Best Dog Toys for Road Trips?
Our dogs should never hit the road without their favorite toys to keep them company. We recommend packing durable toys with no squeaks or noises for the ride, if not only for your sanity. However, don’t leave those squeakers at home if they’re your dog’s favorite. Instead, pack them away for when you’ve arrived at your final destination for playtime once you’re not in a small confined space.
Along with some of your dog’s favorite toys, it’s wise to pack items that can keep your dog occupied such as a puzzle that holds treats.
Where Should Your Dog Sit in the Car?
Just like humans prefer having their own seat for the ride, our dogs need their own dedicated space in the car.
If you plan to crate your dog, make sure there’s enough room in the car for the crate before packing everything else. Whether you keep them in a crate or they do well in the cab, be sure to bring their dog bed or a blanket they love from home.
Now, just because we’re recommending giving your dog their own space doesn’t mean you have to give them a large amount of space. Interestingly enough, most dogs actually prefer cave-like spaces.
As long as they have a space of their own, whether it’s an actual seat, a crate in the back, or just the floor, your dog is probably more comfortable than you realize.
How Can I Keep My Dog Safe?
Everyone knows how unsafe it is to leave your dog in the car on a hot day. But many are unaware of just how serious this safety precaution is. It takes only minutes for a car to heat up to an unhealthy temperature depending on the temperature outside and how strong the sun is on a given day.
Convincing yourself “you’ll only be gone for a few minutes” is a few minutes too long in many conditions. When packing, make sure you have everything you need in advance so that you never find yourself in a position where you need to leave your dog alone in the car.
Past the heat, something you may not initially think about when it comes to pet safety is traffic. Even the best-trained dog can be distracted or have their attention captured by something that makes them dash off.
A good rule of thumb is if a door or window is open, the leash should be on and in hand. That way, you never have to worry about your dog running into the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Buckle Up” Your Dog With a Leash
Speaking of keeping the leash on your dog, there is never a good reason to take your pup off the leash in the car. Even when the windows are up and the doors are locked, having control of your furry friend is extremely important when you are both sharing a small space such as the cab of a car.
Even the best-behaved doggos can get overstimulated or excited due to the many distractions a car ride can create. To ensure you are the alpha dog at every moment of your road trip, keep your dog’s leash attached to their collar and within reach. That way, you are always able to maintain control. Even a small tug on the leash can remind your pup who is in control when they start acting up on the drive.
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