The Ultimate Guide to Road Tripping With Your Dog
Think ahead to make the road trip experience as easy as possible on your dog before you jump in the car.
What to Pack for Your Pet on a Road Trip
- Consider your pet's regular daily activities and how you can keep them as consistent as possible while traveling. Does your dog regularly sleep in a crate? Bringing it along will give her a familiar spot in a new place.
- Toys, bones and favorite stuffed animals can be a comfort to your pet while traveling, as well as bedding that she already knows.
- Remember to bring plenty of her regular food (though it's possible your pet may not eat as much due to travel stress), and favorite treats to reward good behavior.
- A collar and leash are also a must for safely getting from here to there - which is half of the adventure.
- If your pet is likely to scratch at the door of hotel rooms or the place where you'll be staying, bringing along your Clawguard is a great idea to remove the danger of your dog doing damage to doors and doorframes. Nobody likes a houseguest who scratches at the door and leaves permanent damage behind.
Driving Safely with your Dog in the Car
Before the big day, consider exactly where your pet will ride in the car. Some experts advocate keeping your pet crated while in the car. While owners sometimes think of crating as keeping your dog "cooped up," remember that our dogs think of their crates as a home base.
A crate in the car can give your dog a sense of security during a stressful time. Being crated also helps keep your pet contained and secure if the car has to stop short.
If your car doesn't have room for a crate, consider one of the pet harness options available for car travel, or a back seat partition. Both of these great options keep your pet in their safe place and prevent them from moving too freely around the car and posing a safety hazard.Two dog seatbelt options: the Sleepypod (left), and AllSafe pet harness (right)
Rest Stops and Overnights
Where and how often you stop on a car trip with dogs is also an important consideration. If you'll be driving for more than a couple of hours, planning for adequate stops will give your pet a break, not to mention you and your passengers too. Make sure that you allow your pet a good walk while you're stopped.
Remember: a tired pet is a happy pet!
And last but not least, give them the opportunity for a bathroom break before getting back into the car.
Bringing along a collapsible water bowl or other small dish to give your pet a drink is a good idea, too. In case of car sickness, though, experts don't recommend feeding your pet a full meal in the middle of a long car trip.
Find a pet-friendly hotel.
There are many hotels that are welcoming to pets, including chain hotels such as Best Western and Red Roof Inn that are both affordable and have many locations across the country. We love pet friendly hotels. Which one is your favorite? Bring your pet's crate and bedding into the hotel to give her that safe space to retreat to as needed. Be sure to sweep the room for potentially dangerous items at dog level (such as electrical cords), move trash cans off the floor if your dog tends to explore their contents, and watch for possible marking behaviors in male dogs. Don't forget to put up a Clawguard if your dog tries to scratch the door in the hotel room!
When You Get There
When you get to your destination, know that your dog will likely have pent up energy from all the time in the car. First things first:
- Take your dog on a long walk
- Throw the ball around the backyard
- Play in the yard for a bit before taking him/her indoors
These activities will help release some of that energy your dog may have after a long road trip, and make introducing him or her to a new place and new people that much easier on everyone.
Look around the house for potential danger to your pet. Cords that can be tripped on or chewed, food that can be snatched off counters or tables, chemicals or other dangerous substances that may not be secured can all pose dangers to your pet and should be taken care of before she's allowed to roam free. Also remember to introduce her to family and friends in a controlled way, and never leave dogs unattended with children.
Holidays are a little stressful for everyone, but by planning ahead and coming prepared, you and your dog can have a great experience both in the car, and once you arrive.
Worried about dogs scratching doors wherever you go?
Get a Clawguard door shield to pop onto the door at each place you stay. Take it with you when you leave. Now there's one less thing you'll have to worry about.