If you can’t stand the thought of leaving your dog behind when you go on vacation, you’ve probably considered taking them with you on a road trip. This can lead to a fantastic vacation for everybody, but it involves lots of planning before you go anywhere. Here are some tips for the perfect road trip.
Start with a trip to the vet.
Make sure your dog is current on their vaccinations and ask if they’ll need additional ones based on your destination. Get copies of the rabies certificate and proof of other vaccinations. Most hotels and some state crossings will need to see this documentation.
Take several short trips first.
You’ll want to start with 20-minute trips to make sure your dog doesn’t get carsick or develop anxiety. Make sure the destination is somewhere fun, like a park, and bring treats to make the car extra positive. Medication from your vet can help with carsickness or nervousness.
Buy a crate or harness for the car…
…And get them used to it before the trip. According to Consumer Reports, a 60-pound dog traveling at 35 mph can turn into a 2,700-pound projectile in an accident. A crate or harness might not just save their life, it could save your own. Never let your dog stick their head out the window of your car! Bringing a crate is a good idea anyway, since most hotels won’t allow your dog to be loose in the room alone. (Click here for the top hotel chains for traveling with pets!) Plus, if the crate becomes a safe place, it can take some stress out of travel.
During the car ride
-Bring a chew toy, stuffed Kong, or treat puzzle to keep your dog busy.
-Keep music in the front speakers. Your dog has more sensitive hearing than you and can hear Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” just fine without the back speakers.
-Make sure the temperature is comfortable in the back seat.
-Stop every couple of hours for a water, potty, and stretch break. Your dog needs the breaks more than you.
Packing List (keep your dog’s items in the handiest bag)
-Leash, collar, ID tags with your cell phone number, pet waste bags
-Vet and vaccination information, medication, microchip registration info
-Food, food bowl, water bowl, bottled water if your dog has a sensitive stomach
-Treats and toys
-Bed, blanket, or pad for sleeping
-Flea and tick control (if necessary)
-Harness and/or crate
-Feed your dog a light meal 3-4 hours before leaving.
–Teach them a potty cue to save time at rest stops.
-Plan ahead as much as possible, from the hotel to doggy daycare to local dog parks. Bring Fido is a great resource.
-If your dog isn’t used to a crate, acclimate them well before your trip.
-Stick to your dog’s feeding schedule – and remember, he doesn’t understand time zones!
-Most importantly, never leave your dog alone in the car. Even with the windows down, your car gets very hot very fast. Besides, do you really trust strangers at a rest stop not to break into your car and steal your best friend?