One of the many great things about a road trip is that it is easy to bring your furry friends along. Sure you can bring dogs on a flight too but this is typically expensive and very stressful on your dog. During a road trip they get to spend their time doing their favorite thing – hanging out with you. Just as traveling with kids or any other dependents, there are some added things you should consider.
1. Take Extra Care While Packing
Seeing you pack is an immediate stressor for a dogs. Anyone who has ever moved while having a dog knows the guilt you feel seeing your pup so stressed about the boxes.
When making your road trip packing list and getting your suitcase out and packing, you will notice your dog sticking closer to you than normal. If they’re anything like ours they may even fall asleep inside your bag. Yup, we found our 70 lbs Labrador curled up in one of our bags. It is important to reassure them by giving them lots of treats and lots of extra love.
2. Keeping Consistencies
When packing for your road trip make sure to pack your pup’s toys from home. While road trips are intended to be fun, they can add a lot of stress to your furry friend. Bringing along a lot of home securities will give your pup comfort. Using their food dish from home, bringing some of their favourite toys and packing their bed along will mean the world to them. They don’t know where you are going or what is happening so bringing these familiar items is sure to give them comfort.
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3. Before You Go, Get Your Pup Comfortable In A Car
If your pup doesn’t usually accompany you in the car, taking them on an extended drive right away may not be a good idea. Getting your pup comfortable with car rides will increase their happiness and make it so you can both enjoy your trip. This can start with just allowing your dog to sit in the car or feeding him in the car.
Lots of dogs associate car rides with vet trips so showing them it isn’t scary is important.
Start taking your pup on lots of little trips in the car with you before you go so they can get comfortable. We love giving our pups soft bones to chew on while we drive so they can keep busy and happy.
4. Don't Forget The Dog Food
Not only is the familiarity of having their own food brand important, but switching brands of food can be really hard on their stomachs. Packing extra before you go will ensure your dog has a good time on the trip too.
5. Do Some Research Before Leaving
We recommend you always keep your dog up to date on their vaccinations. This can be even more important when travelling. Before you go do your research about possible irritants for dogs. Even if you aren’t going that far different regions can have unknown irritants.
We got to California and after almost all of us got bitten with ticks we learned that Northern California is riddled with them. Luckily none of us have seemed to fall victim to any diseases ticks can transmit.
A simple trip to the vet for a flea and tick treatment gives our pups added protection.
6. Sensitive Paws
On that same note it is important to be aware that your pups paws are sensitive little things. There are lots of things that can harm your pet out there such as hot pavement, salt in the winter time, glass and sharp rocks. Especially in new environments where you are less aware of what is around it is crucial to be aware of your surroundings.
Scan the area before you let your pups run wild to check for any potential hazards. We recommend bringing tweezers and keeping them accessible while routinely checking their feet for cactus, thorns and sap.
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7. A Place To Call Home
Dogs are naturally den animals and typically love dark secluded areas (for about five minutes until they are ready to be pet again). When living in such small quarters it is easy to trip over each other.
Without meaning to the dogs often get in our way. With that we find it important to give them places that they know they can go without us bothering them. Even if it means popping the top and putting Freckles (the brown coloured dog) on the second bed while we cook (which he loves). Bella loves to curl up in the front seats and stick her head out every once in a while. Roxy needs to be on top of you, because she is, after all, a lap dog.
8. Water, Water, Water!
When starting a road trip you always pack yourself tons of food and drinks (if you don’t, start. No road trip is complete without road food.).
At home, your dog is used to getting a drink of water whenever they feel like it. Being in a car this may not be the case.
If your rig doesn’t allow for you to constantly have a dish out for them it is important to remember to offer them water often.
Especially on hotter days, make sure your pup is well hydrated.
Read some tips for combating the heat on the go.
9. They Need Breaks Too!
It is important for you to let your best friend take a break from sitting in the car. Especially if your dog is bigger and can’t move through the car with ease. They get stiff too. Allowing them to run through a park or stop to throw a ball (Roxy loves her glow-in-the-dark ball) and tucker them out will mean the world to them. One of the best parts about road trips for dogs is smelling all the new scents in new areas. Being outside and hearing different noises with new scents and different scenery will do a lot for your pup’s mental stimulation, tiring them out quicker.
Most people are dog lovers (apparently not everyone, although I am yet to understand these people) but it is important to keep your dog under control and always pick up after them. Besides keeping the parks and green spaces clean, it is the only way cities will keep allowing our friends in all the places we love to go. Go to your local pet supply store for cheap doggie bags that are biodegradable.
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10. Safety First
Get your dog tattooed or micro-chipped (preferably the latter) and then on their collar, write what you have done.
Our pups all have up-to-date tags on their collars, and they wear their collars 100% of the time. We make sure to include their name, and our phone number and instead of address (because we no longer have one) we wrote “tattoo in L ear from BC” or simply “microchipped”.
This ensures that if the worst-case were to occur, the chances of being reunited are high.
Our smallest one has her ear that always stands straight up tattooed, which has the added benefit of making her look bad-ass. It might cost a little extra money, but it is definitely worth it in the long run.
We’ve run into a lot of, what we think are, stray dogs on our travels and if they had any way to contact their owner it would make it way easier to reunite them with their owner.
Going on a road trip? Leave us a comment about what worked for you.
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While I do not have a dog YET, I plan to get one some day, and I would love to take it on adventures with me. These are great tips – it seems like there are actually some similarities between preparing for a road trip with a dog v. kids haha.
Amazing tips. We love when we get to travel with our golden retriever Fletcher, although we don’t get to do it that often.