These days, more Americans than ever are choosing to bring their furry friends along when they travel domestically. Although some dogs love road trips, others experience elevated stress levels when they’re on the move. Loving pet parents can read on to find out what they can do to keep travel-averse dogs more comfortable, whether they’re driving to another state as part of a move or they just want to bring their furry friends along for the next family vacation.
Create a Dedicated Doggy Space
When road tripping with dogs, it’s never wise to overpack. Make sure there’s enough space for furry friends to lay down and relax during long drives without having to worry about squeezing in between luggage.
Outfit the pup’s personal space with some of his or her favorite items from home, and think about bringing a waterproof dog blanket to lay down on the seat. A waterproof blanket will do double-duty by keeping the animal comfortable and simultaneously protecting the car from damage should any unfortunate accidents occur.
Bring Up-to-Date Records
Before hitting the road, take a moment to make sure the family dog’s tags are up-to-date and contain accurate contact information. Even the most attentive dog owners can’t guarantee 100% that their beloved pups won’t try to run off in an unfamiliar environment.
It’s equally important to bring along up-to-date vaccination records. Owners may need proof of rabies and other vaccines to board their dogs while they go off on adventures that aren’t pet-friendly, and if anything comes up with their animals’ health, having a vaccination record on hand will make life much easier for an unfamiliar veterinarian.
Plan a Dog-Friendly Route
Since most pet owners can’t possibly keep water out in their cars while they’re on the move, it’s best to plan a route that allows for easy stops every two to three hours. It’s fine to pull off at a gas station to let the family dog go to the bathroom or get a drink of water, but not all potential pit stops have areas that are large enough for dogs to run around safely.
Short bouts of playtime between stints of driving, or even periodic walks on a leash, can help dogs of all ages get rid of their excess energy. Pet owners who don’t want to deal with hyperactive dogs in their cars while they drive should prioritize exercise and plan their routes to make it easier to do so. Incorporating stops at local dog parks can also be extremely helpful.
Bring a Collapsible Crate
Dog crates are great tools for helping beloved pups feel safer and more confident in foreign environments. Collapsible crates are designed to make travel easier. They’re easy to set up and can be folded for fast storage, so owners often use them both in hotel rooms and in their cars when they are forced to leave their furry friends for more than a few minutes at a gas station.
If no one ever took the time to crate train the family dog, it’s best to get a jump on it before hitting the road. Set the crate up at home and put a comfortable dog bed, a few toys, or even an old sweatshirt that smells like a beloved family member in there, then use positive reinforcement to convince the pup that he or she should embrace the crate. Whether they’re at home or on the road, dog owners should never lock their furry friends up as punishment, as it usually causes dogs to become crate-averse.
Never Leave Dogs in Hot Cars
Most families plan their road trips for the summer months when kids have time off from school and adults are ready to take advantage of sunny, beautiful days spent outside the office. Families that plan to bring their furry friends along should take note that while spending some time out sunbathing can be pleasant for people, all that heat can accumulate quickly in cars to create dangerous situations for dogs.
Never leave dogs sitting unattended in the heat for more than a few minutes. When going into stores or signing into hotels, make sure to crack the windows and consider buying a battery-operated fan to keep pups cool. Reflective windshield covers can also help pet owners keep the temperatures down, but even with all these safeguards in place, it’s still important to avoid leaving furry friends waiting in cars for longer than it takes to get gas or run to the bathroom.
Be Aware of Wildlife
Planning on camping for one or more nights on that upcoming road trip? Remember that there’s a reason for leash laws in campgrounds. Wildlife can pose a serious danger to family pets, especially in regions of the country that are home to large animals like bears, elk, and deer.
Even if the only local wildlife poses no threat to Fido, it’s still wise to keep the family dog on a leash when spending time in campgrounds or hiking in parks and forests. Dogs that run off chasing squirrels and other smaller critters can still wind up lost or find themselves too close for comfort to busy roads.
Stock Up on Food
Keeping dogs on a consistent feeding schedule is one of the best ways to prevent unexpected accidents and unnecessarily frequent bathroom breaks. Unfortunately, not all dog food brands are available in every region of the country. Unless families feed their dogs well-known brands that will be easy to find wherever they wind up, it’s best to pack extra food and treats that will not cause stomach upset.
The Bottom Line
Traveling with dogs can be incredibly rewarding, but it requires some extra planning. Dog owners should make sure they have all their ducks in a row when it comes to paperwork and plans before they hit the road so they can be sure to keep their dogs safe and comfortable. There’s no way to predict every emergency that can come up or bring 100% of the comforts of home along, but following the tips above should help to ensure that family pets have just as good of a time on road trips as their owners.