Hittin’ the road with Fido? If you think traveling with your dogs sounds like a hassle, the tips in the post will help you pull it off, hassle-free.
Traveling with Dogs: Yes, it can be fun!
Maybe for years you’ve been leaving your dogs with friends and family, or bringing them to a quality board and train facility. But, this year is different; you’re geared up and ready to hit the open road … and your dog pals are coming along for the ride. If you’re about to sign your dog up for a cross-state (or cross-country) drive, you’ve likely experienced their car behavior and believe they’re up for it. If your dog is NOT a good car traveler (gets spooked, barks, has accidents, wails), then we’re going to need a whole other post about car training. On the other hand, if your dog is eager to get in the back seat and hit the highways, then here are some tips to help them stay safe, stay entertained and stay comfortable.
Be Prepared, and Then Prepare Some More. Before you hit the road, check with your vet you make sure your dog is healthy enough for long road trips. If you are travelling by plane, make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations. It might also be helpful to bring your dog’s medical records along, just in case. Is there such thing as too safe? When it comes to our pets, we don’t think so.
Who doesn’t like checklists?
- Collar and tag – don’t travel without them, period.
- Food – While it can be tempting to try something new for the trip, (we do it with snack for humans all the time) bring the SAME food they normally eat. No new, fun travel treats that could upset their stomach.
- Treats – Bringing her favorite treats will make the ride more pleasant and could help ease anxiety.
- Water – It’s common sense until you forget to pack it. Bring extra, in case of spills or extra long exercise pitstops.
- Bowls – To put that food and water in.
- Blankets / Dog Bed – It helps to make their travelling area as comfortable as possible.
- First Aid-Kit – You never when something might happen on a pit stop. Make sure you have tweezers, gauze, tape etc.
- Brush – While we recommend grooming your dog before the trip, bring a brush along to keep extra fur shedding in your car.
- Poop bags – Rest stops are mostly meant for humans, so you’ll create your own dog rest stop with waste bags on hand.
- Old rags – If you have kids, you already know this rule. Keep the car neat and have some old rags on hand for any spills, muddy paws, etc. Moist towelettes are also very helpful.
- Crate/Kennel – Having a crate or kennel during travel may help your dog sleep and feel more comfortable.
The days of letting dogs roam freely in the car may soon be behind us. In the UK, they’ve already passed laws against having unrestrained dogs in moving vehicles. We could be getting closer in this country too, but not yet. Even though free-roaming dogs aren’t illegal, they are unsafe (both for you and the dog). A crate is still the favored option, as long as it is comfortable, well ventilated and large enough for the dog to fully stand and turn around. Another suggestion? Try a dog seatbelt. There are more and more approved devices that work with your car’s existing safety belts to securely and comfortably harness your dog. A quick Google search for Dog Safety Belt will get you started down the right path before you start down the road.
Don’t Skimp on the Pit Stops.
You and your human travel buddies are thinking it would be amazing to make it 300 miles without stopping, but your dog didn’t sign off on that agreement. Your dog might be a champ at waiting to go to the bathroom when they’re at home, but being in a moving, bouncing environment isn’t the same. Make it easier on them by letting them out frequently. This will also allow them a few chances to stretch their legs, runoff any built-up anxiety, etc. Plus, it’s hard to drink from a water bowl going 75 mph. Knock as many checklist items off as you can during these stops; it’ll be worth it for everyone’s health and comfort.