9 Tips for a Pet-Friendly Road Trip

Dear Blog,

Well, the car is packed, and we are ready for a road trip with our two well-traveled pups.  These two have traveled to more mountains, cities, and state parks than many of our family members or friends. While these days long hours in the car is a simple task, early on this was not so easy.

Let me start by giving you a few pointers if you have plans for traveling with dogs but have not done so in the past.

First – Your dog should be used to car trips that last more than an hour. Start acclimating them to being in the car for an extended period, not just the short ride to the vet. How do you do that? Spend a day driving around. Stop at a park along the way. Get back in the car, drive some more. Park the car again, walk some more. Repeat this process multiple days before your long journey begins.

Second – Do not feed your pup a full meal just before driving off. Some dogs will get an upset stomach and may even vomit as a result. So, either feed your canine companion hours before or a half meal just prior to the trip. You can feed the other half of the food a bit later when you make a stop. Trust me, your fur baby will enjoy the picnic.

Third – Cover your seat with a blanket from home. Your buddy will appreciate the familiar aroma of home. Also, the blanket will take the brunt of dirt and pet hair as you travel.

Fourth – When you are actually on the road, do not forget that your dog will still get thirsty. Make sure to have water and a bowl to serve the water. We use a collapsible bowl that we keep handy in one of the car’s pockets just in case we need to serve water in a pinch.

Fifth – When you stop to use the facilities, take your pet out of the car to stretch their legs and to relieve themselves as well. This will help to reduce the risk of an accident inside of the car.

Sixth – If you can spare some time, and I would suggest putting extra time into your itinerary, make a couple of stops along the way for a walk or run in a dog park. A tired dog makes for a better riding companion. This is especially true if you have a high energy pup. If that is the case, I would suggest a good run just before hitting the road. Our Border Collie is a high energy pup. When she was young, we would need to run her before and during the drive, to get her tired enough to sleep and be calm during these drives.

Seventh – When you finally get to your destination, whether it’s a pet-friendly hotel, a cabin, a friend’s house or another form of lodging, keep your dog on the leash as you explore a bit outside. Give your companion a chance to relieve themselves. Once you enter the structure, still keep your dog on the leash as you both explore the place you will be staying. Once the dog seems calm, it’s time to let them off the leash.

Eighth – Now that you have reached your destination, most people tend to head out while leaving the pups in the new place, alone. This is not generally a good thing to do if your pup is not used to experiencing things outside their norms. Dogs are creatures of habit. As a result, they may begin to become afraid due to the unknown. If possible, try not to leave them on night one.

Ninth – Being in a new place, and having just traveled, your canines might be experiencing travelers’ belly and may not communicate to you as well as they do at home about the need to go out. As a result, take your dogs out more frequently than you would at home. Then you may taper off, back to normal, once their bellies seem fine and the dogs become familiar with the accommodations and the newness they are experiencing.

So, I hope these tips are helpful as you venture out on the road with your pups. I will be following these nine tips, starting early tomorrow morning as we hit the road for a new adventure. My pups already know what tomorrow will bring as they have recognized the suitcases and our packing procedure. At this point, I do not know who is more excited, them or me.

Namaste –

The Long Haired Traveler

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