Whether you are road-tripping or moving across country (again – for the third time – cough…cough) ensuring your canine companion is comfortable is one of the main elements of a successful adventure. Based on years of practice and some truly bone-headed moves, here are my 11 best tips for traveling with dogs.
1. Stick as closely to a regular schedule as you can. This means you need to stop for pee breaks every few hours and dinner must be served at (or close to) the usual time. Stick to his diet, too. Otherwise, your sleeping quarters are in for an otherworldy odor.
2. Have an extended play session just before you pile into the car. Furry wisdom dictates that a tired dog is a well-behaved dog. If your dog is nervous or excitable, getting him worn out can set you up for a smoother car ride (at least for the first few hours).
3. Experiment with toys to find THAT one that causes your dog to go into a trance. If you do, this toy will cause mental exhaustion which leads to physical exhaustion. My dog has one of these and it captures his attention like a marching band. Anywhere devil ball goes, he goes and fixates on it until he falls asleep. It is adorable and slightly concerning.
4. Be sure to take travel-friendly dishes. Ceramic and metal can break or create loud noises that can be upsetting. If your dog freaks out while in the car, good luck getting him in the next time. Be sure to get your dog used to eating/drinking from the travel dishes well before you leave. That way he’ll be used to them when you leave.
5. Pack your doggie first aid kit. You have one for humans, right? Pupper needs one, too. Check with your vet on what OTC medicines can be used for your dog. My dog’s kit has Benadryl, Pepcid, gauze pads, Hibiclens, bandages, liquid skin, styptic powder, rubber gloves, tweezers, and Band-Aid antiseptic wash. This allows me to trea scrapes, cuts, tummy upsets, and other minor ailments. I also have a book of canine first aid triage, just in case. If your dog leans toward the anxious side of the scale ask your vet for a small amount of doggie downers. This can mellow out your dog just enough for them to realize a car ride isn’t the end of the worl.
6. Take blankets and towels. When you have a dog you can never have enough towels. Dogs (like life) are messy. Towels can help cushion or cover a seat, clean up vomit or poop, shade the backseat, and dry off after a doggie downpour. Your dogs favorite blanket is another must-have. Familiar scents go a long way to making your dog happy.
7. Pack proof of vaccinations, license information, microchip contact information, and an emergency contact who make decisions for your dog on your behalf.
8. Never ever ever ever leave your dog in the car by himself. If you have to, park close to your location so he can see you, crack the windows and HURRY!! Don’t be surprised is a Good Samaritan breaks your windows to save your dog. Many cities/states have laws where passers-by can break into your car to rescue a child or animal in distress without fear of reprecussion.
9. In the car, your dog should have a close fitting buckle collar, not a choke collar. Anything that can get caught on a handle, latch, or other protrusion can choke your dog and kill him. Not the way to enjoy a road trip. Also, never ever let your dog out of the car without a leash of which you have a firm grip on the loop. Better yet, get one of these and go hands-free.
10. Keep your body inside the car No matter how cure it is to see Rover’s head sticking out the window, don’t allow it. Debris can fly into his eye, scratching the cornea or worse. Trucks can get too close and smush the dog (total downer). Dogs can squeeze out through some tiny spaces and it would be horrendous to lose your dog out a car window when it can be easily prevented.
11. Do what you can to make the trip fun for Fido. Be understanding that the experience is new and weird and he make act out. Whining, barking, or fussing is his doggie way to ask you ‘what the hell is going on?’ So do you you can to answer his question in a sweet and patient way.
Roman is getting lots of practice and we prepare to leave the desert southwest and drive to the east coast for our new adventure. What about your dog? What tips do you have to make the most of a canine-friendly road trip? Let me know your secrets and thanks for stopping by!