Nothing says summer like a road trip. When planning a road trip, one of the most crucial aspects to consider is who’s riding shotgun.
Long hours behind the wheel mean that you need the perfect companion. Let us save you the time of scrolling through your contact list and suggest you bring your four-legged best friend. Could there be anyone more excited to travel with you? Didn’t think so. However, deciding to travel with your dog - whatever the adventure - is only the start of your planning process. There are a few important things to consider before hitting the open road with Fido.
Road Trip Dog Safety
As always, the first consideration should be safety. You will be away from home in new environments for an extended period of time, so you will need your pet first aid kit. Before packing it in the car, make sure you have the appropriate amount of supplies in relation to how long you will be traveling. Double check the expiration dates on medication, and be sure it contains all possible supplies you could need. Hopefully, you won’t need it, but being prepared can mean the difference between a minor setback and an emergency situation.
You will need to pack some basic pet supplies for the ride. A set of bowls for water and food, poop bags for potty breaks, drinking water, and pet food. Water can be bought along the trip as it is sold in abundance at every rest stop, but the same may not be true for pet food, so be sure you include extra. On the topic of food, one of the best parts of a road trip is the snacks, so consider treating your pup with some special packed treats for their enjoyment.
Now that the basics are covered, there are some best practices that can help the trip go smoothly.
Consider the seating chart
It is unsafe to have your dog unrestrained in their seat and even more unsafe to let them hang out the car window. Choose a seat in your vehicle that will be the pet seat, and consider purchasing either a kennel that can buckle safely into the seat or some sort of accessory that utilizes the seat belt in the car. Securing your pet means they can’t endanger themselves or you while you’re operating a moving vehicle. This is also a good time to think about your pet's comfort. Just like you in the driving seat, they will be sitting in one place for a long time. Bringing along a pet bed, blankets, or some cushions can help them stay comfy for a longer period of time.
Stretch your legs
Plan stops along your route for potty breaks and time to stretch all 6 of your legs. Many people stop at stores or urban spaces with small patches of grass for potty breaks so they can get back on the road. Pro-tip: plan to stop at some rest-stops along your route. They are a traveler's best friend. For humans, they have bathrooms and refreshment. For dogs, they have large grassy fielded areas. When you are able to let your travel companion out to run around and burn some energy, they will be much more content to continue their journey. They may even take a nap when they hop back into their seat.
Calm their nerves
Traveling can be exciting for your dog, but it can also be stressful. Being in a car, seeing all the sights, hearing all the sounds, and being contained for extended periods of time can be enough to work up even the calmest of K-9s. While you won’t be able to guarantee their happiness, there are a few tricks you can try to keep them calm.
If your pet is not used to car travel or their new car seating arrangement, try taking some smaller trips around town to get them used to it.
Bring some comfort from home. Maybe your dog has a favorite bed, blanket, or toy. If so, be sure to bring it, and place it with them in their seat for a piece of home.
Take plenty of breaks to get out and run around.
If looking out the window is too exciting for them, move their seat to the center, if possible, or put up a window shade to block their view.
If all else fails, distract with a new bone or chew toy. If they are getting overwhelmed by the sights and sounds, directing their attention to something calming like gnawing on a bone could help them focus on something else.
Traveling with man’s best friend can be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone involved. It is important, however, to remember that this can be a stressful and potentially dangerous adventure for your pet if necessary precautions aren’t taken. Remember your first aid kit and don’t forget to have fun.