Are you going on a trip with your dog?
Excellent idea! Dogs make the absolute best travel buddies. They’re eager to please and never complain—no matter how long the car trip.
But, before you head off, you’ll need to do some prep-work first. Here’s how you can have a fun and safe trip with your four-legged friend.
Prep Your Pooch for Travel
The first thing you have to do is make sure your dog can actually make the trip! If your dog isn’t used to long car rides or freaks out in the car, there are ways to fix it. Some dogs like to chase cars, not be in them!
Here’s how to fix it:
- Ease your dog into being comfortable inside the car.
- Take it slowly. Introduce your dog to a parked car. Leave the doors open so your dog can follow you in and out of the vehicle.
- Once your dog gets the hang of being a passenger, make short trips around the block.
- Plan for longer trips to the park or beach so your dog will associate car rides with fun playtime.
- If you’re planning on using a dog crate, seat or hammock, train your dog to ride in the car while using it.
Plan for Plenty of Stops en Route
Use a map and plan your entire route. Make sure to include plenty of rest stops so you and your dog can stretch, use the toilet and have some playtime. It will help a lot if the stop has a large area where you can walk your dog, or if it’s next to a park or open field.
A couple of things to note:
- Take your time during these stops. Enjoy the scenery and make sure to give your dog a short workout to use up any excess energy. A tired dog is less likely to cause issues when riding with you. As long as you keep your dog entertained with his favorite toys, he won’t bother you.
- Use the regular stops to be on top of your dog’s feeding schedule. When it comes to eating, dogs thrive on consistency. Try to keep the same feeding schedule, but don’t give your dog too much food. Also, try to wait at least an hour before hitting the road again so your dog won’t vomit all over your car’s carpet!
Set Some Car Rules
After prepping your dog for travel, it’s time to set some rules for appropriate behavior in the car. Remember, your dog’s safety is your number one concern—not an Instagram post of your dog doing all sorts of crazy stuff in the car while you’re driving!
Here are a few rules you can put in place to make sure your dog behaves and stays safe:
- Avoid opening the windows all the way so your dog won’t be able to stick his head out. A dog’s head sticking out of a moving car is cute in movies, but dangerous in real life. Flying debris can cause severe injuries to your dog, and the wind can dry her eyes out.
- Don’t let your dog sit in the front passenger seat, even with a harness on. Your dog can do all sorts of things that may distract you and cause an accident. Plus, your car’s airbags can harm your dog when they deploy during a crash.
- Always keep your dog strapped in and secure so she won’t bounce around or get tossed about during sudden stops.
- This rule is for you: Never leave your dog alone inside a car. Ever. Even if you think you’ll be gone for a minute. Cars can rapidly turn into ovens during the summer, so take your dog with you!
- No eating or drinking in the car! If you need to feed or hydrate your dog, make sure it’s at one of the designated stops along the way.
Visit the Vet
Take your dog to the vet to make sure she’s healthy enough for the trip. Tell the vet where you’re headed. Ask for advice on any preventative shots your dog needs to be ready for any bugs native to the area that can cause serious health issues.
- Check if your dog needs any regular shots, like vaccines or the regular rabies shot. If your dog isn’t microchipped yet, now is the time to do it! Microchipping your dog adds an extra layer of security and peace of mind if she wanders off and gets lost.
- Also, take this opportunity to ask the vet for medication if your dog gets car sick.
Pack for Two
Packing for your dog is exciting. You get to choose what stuff to bring based on your dog’s favorite items, and even get a nod or bark of approval! Of course, you can’t take everything with you, so you have to pack smart.
Here’s a general checklist of what to pack for your dog. You can add more in case we missed something:
- Dog tag with your name and contact information
- Travel dog tag with your name, contact info and the number of the place you’re staying
- Regular collar or a collar with your number printed on it, plus an extra collar in case one breaks
- According to DogLab, an LED collar will allow you to easily find your dog at night if he runs off
- A leash
- Favorite chew toys
- Toys for exercise like tug toys, a stick, a ball or a Frisbee
- Dog first aid kit
- Dog food and treats
- Blanket, bed, and pillow
- Cooling mat (if you’re going somewhere warm)
- All weather vest (if you’re going somewhere cold and wet)
- Plenty of water
- Collapsible dog bowls for water and food
- Your dog’s vitamins or medication
- Poop bags
- Numbers of the nearest veterinarians, animal emergency medical clinics and animal rescue
- Your dog’s documents and medical records
Traveling with your dog can be very enjoyable. Your dog is a huge part of your life and has become a loving member of your family. You can’t imagine a life without your dog, so it’s only fitting that she goes wherever you go!
But, taking your dog on a trip takes careful planning to ensure that everyone stays safe. Staying safe isn’t only meant for your destination, but also for the journey itself. By following our tips and suggestions, you and your dog can enjoy a safe trip anywhere the road takes you.
What about the fun part? Well, we didn’t add how to have fun because when your dog is with you, fun is automatic and you never have to plan for it.
Stay safe on the road and have a blast!