15 Travel Tips for Hitting the Road with Your Dog

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The holiday season means shopping, parties, family gatherings, and maybe a little travel. We all know what we need to do to prepare ourselves, our families, and our cars for the trip – but what about your dog?

Tips for Road Tripping with Your Dog

Taking your dog on a road trip can be super enjoyable – and super stressful. Longer road trips in a car with your dog, while fun, can also be challenging. Dogs can get restless, and behave in ways that aren’t safe, like hanging out of the window, or jumping in your lap when you’re cruising at highway speeds. Here are a few helpful tips to get ready for your trip with your furry friend.

Give Them Their Own Dedicated Comfortable Space In The Car

Don’t pack your car to the brim to the point where your dog has to squeeze between luggage with barely enough room to lay down. Compare that to the middle seat on a 10 hour, oversold flight. No one wants that, and your dog doesn’t either. The more room and dedicated space they have, the better behaved they’ll be.

Use Positive Reinforcement & Reward Your Dog With Treats

A well-trained dog is going to be easier to road trip with than a dog that is constantly misbehaving. We’ve trained our dogs using the positive reinforcement technique. What that means is when they do what they are told, we reward them with a treat.

Over time, they learn to simply do that desired behavior, treat or not, but when you first begin to road trip with your dog, positive reinforcement with treats is a helpful tool.

Always Give Your Dog Access To Water

Your dog shouldn’t have to wait until you stop for gas to get a drink of water. Get a small stable water bowl that you can put on the floor by your backseat and let them drink at their leisure. A compact, easily stored water bowl is a good way to always be sure your doggo can drink when needed.

Don’t Ignore Their Bathroom Needs On Long Drives

If you have to pee, chances are your dog does, too. Even if you are in a hurry to get to your destination, you need to take a few extra minutes whenever you stop to let your dog out to do their business.

Just like humans need to get out and stretch their legs on long drives, so do dogs. Do a couple of quick laps around the parking lot with your dog to make sure they’re not just sitting in a car for hours.

Get Toys That Will Last

Quality toys are an important thing to pack and this is a dog road trip tip that is often overlooked. Toys help keep your pup occupied and provide mental stimulation. When on a road trip, try to bring toys that are more durable, so they don’t fall apart one day into the trip.

Pack A Bag For Your Dog

Separating them from your items will make them easier to access when you need them on the ride. Consider all the places you will visit along the way when packing. Items you may need include:

  • Food and food bowl
  • Water, water bottle and bowl
  • Leash
  • Toys for chewing and fetching
  • Medications
  • Protective clothing
  • Dog-safe insect repellent and sunscreen
  • Blanket and dog towel
  • Brush and shampoo
  • Flea comb and tick remover
  • Poop bags
  • Treats

Find The Local Dog Park

When you arrive in a new town, an easy way to blow off your dog’s steam is to stop by the local dog park. They will be bursting with energy, and it’s a good way to socialize them as well.

Book Pet-Friendly Accommodations

Now that you have your route planned, you need to plan for lodging. Not all hotels accept pets, and even campsites often have restrictions. This may require contacting individual hotels in advance to find out their pet policies, including breed restrictions, rules, and possible fees.

Bring A Collapsible Crate For Your Hotel Stays

For those times when you do stay at a hotel or Airbnb, a crate is a great tool to help your dog feel safe in a foreign environment. Even if you simply don’t trust your dog to not destroy your car when you are in a restaurant, then consider bringing a crate with you on the road trip. A collapsible crate is best because it won’t take up room in your car when you aren’t using it.

Realize Your Car Is Going To Get Dirty

Dogs are messy little creatures. Some shed, some slobber, and all of them get dirty. There’s no way around it and the best way to deal is to accept it. Don’t get mad at them for being dirty. Hopefully, the dirt means they were having a lot of fun, which is the entire point.

If you are worried about your car, seat covers and a portable car vacuum will go a long way. If your dog tends to roll around in poop or heavy mud, you can carry a short hose in your car and rinse the dog off at the nearest water hookup. Quick-dry towels are also convenient for drying dogs off when they get wet.

Don’t Leave Your Dog In The Car, And Especially Not On A Hot Day

The inside of your car gets hot when left in the sun on a summer day – if it’s too hot in the car for you to be comfortable, it’s also too hot for your pet. Be aware of this and don’t leave your dog sitting unattended for a long time in the heat. Use your common sense. Dogs can die in cars and you don’t want to lose your best friend to carelessness.

Pick Up After Your Dog

Don’t be the jerk who doesn’t pick up after their dog. Not only is it gross to look at, or worse, step on, dog poop pollutes waterways. Keep a hearty supply of poop bags in the car so you are always prepared to pick up after your dogs.

Have Up-To-Date Dog Tags

Have you moved since you got your dog? Make sure your contact info on their dog tag is up-to-date in case your dog somehow gets away. The same goes for the contact information associated with their microchip. This is every owner’s worst nightmare, so be sure your buddy has appropriate identification on him.

Updated Pictures Of Your Dog

No one wants to think about losing their pet while on vacation, but accidents can happen. Don’t leave home without some current pictures of your pup. Print a few out or have some on your phone in case you need to show local shelters or get flyers made.

Bring A Copy Of Your Dog’s Vaccination Record

If you are on your road trip and your dog either gets sick or needs to be boarded for a day, you will need a copy of your dog’s vaccination records. Usually, a copy on your phone will suffice, but you can also keep a copy in your glove box for safekeeping.

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