Summer is one of the most popular times of year for taking a road trip. The weather is warmer, the kids are out of school, and life in general becomes more laid back. When planning a road trip we at ElleVet know how important it is to bring the entire family along. Yes, even the dog. If you don’t know where to start planning to bring your pup with you for the fun, or even if you have but experienced trouble in the past, look no further for helpful tips and tricks.
Before you Go
Get your dog familiar with car rides in general! If your dog is not used to being in the car, or becomes nervous during short car rides around your city, it is not a good idea to jump right into hours of driving. The earlier you teach your dog to be comfortable in the car the better. To do this, begin by holding or sitting next to your dog while someone else drives. Make sure to give your dog lots of positive reinforcement for good behavior. Begin with just a couple of minutes and work up to more and more time as your dog becomes more comfortable. If you can, provide your dog with a place in the car that is “their spot” whenever you go on rides. Place a blanket or even a dog bed if it fits to help mark this territory. If possible, it is best to even constrain your dog in a small area, whether this be a carrier or a crate, to make sure they are safe in case of an accident.
Make Sure your Trip is Dog Friendly
Consider and try to book your accommodations ahead of time. If you are staying at a hotel, be sure to call and make sure they are truly pet friendly even if the website says they are. Another option while road tripping is camping! If you are camping at a campsite make sure they are pet friendly. If you are camping elsewhere, just make sure to be aware that the environment is safe for your pup.
Make sure to be conscious of your dog’s abilities. Not all dogs are able to hike uphill for miles while others love this kind of exercise. Also, do your research ahead of time–not all trails are pet friendly. Either way, make sure you pack lots of water for your pup.
Whatever you do, never leave your dog in the car. Cars can overheat very quickly and this can become very dangerous for dogs. If you need to stop, not only is this a good time for a bathroom and water break for your dog, make sure you have a plan for someone to take them on a quick walk outside. If you are traveling alone, be sure to find a safe spot to secure your dog’s leash. Be aware of the environment. Are there lots of cars? Are there lots of people? If you are unsure if somewhere is safe, bring your dog with you!
During breaks or when you have reached destinations, make sure you exercise your dog well. They will likely have pent up energy from being in a car for hours and will need to run it out. Or even before your next long-haul, getting a run in to tire your dog out is a good idea!
- If your dog like being social, look for cities with off-leash areas to stop in
- Try to keep your dogs on the same eating schedule as at home to help anticipate bathroom breaks (this is not recommended for dogs who get car sick–if this is your dog feed them a couple hours before driving or when you arrive at your destination)
- Keep in mind that most National Parks are not open to dogs
- Just like you would bring a first aid kit for yourself, bring the proper emergency medical supplies for your dog
- Pack the appropriate amount of food and water for the length of your trip (or even extra just in case!), and collapsible food and water bowls
- Be aware of animals in the area you are staying. A shorter leash may be better if there are animals dangerous to your dog
- Always have a copy of your dog’s medical records in case of an emergency
- Make sure your dog is microchipped and has up to date ID information
- Invest in toys that will keep your dog distracted and mentally stimulated in the car