You want to go on a road trip. Maybe do some hiking or camping. But how can you enjoy yourself when you know your dog (or dogs) will be wondering where you are and why they’re being punished! There are some real perks to traveling with your dog. For one thing, they will probably love it! People who like dogs will strike up a conversation or just be friendlier if you have your pet with you. And let’s not forget the photo ops! But if you want to take your dog along on an excursion, there are some things to consider before you head out.
The first priority is safety. Keep in mind that I have a two-seater sports car. Now that I have multiple dogs, a little SUV in on my wish list. ANYWAY . . . whenever I have one my dogs in the car, he or she wants to look out MY window — like, what’s wrong with YOUR window! They hit the turn signal bar, step on the emergency lights, and knock the car out of gear. And when I’m struggling with them, I’m swerving all over the road! This is an excellent reason for me getting my car harness. Plus when I turn or slow down, she isn’t tumbling around the car or slamming her face into the windshield glass. I can’t tell you the number of times I had to wash dog snot off my front window.
It may be a no-brainer, but you have to get your dog into the car! This may not be a problem if you have a chihuahua or a yorkie, but Sally is 35 pounds, Lady is 65 pounds, and Bruiser is 80 pounds. Lady REALLY doesn’t like riding in the car, and it’s tough to lift her up and get those hind quarters in before she’s trying to turn around and make an escape! Then I have to get in the driver’s side butt first, spreading out my arms to keep her from scooting out again. This is where that car harness really came in handy! If you have the time to work a little with your dog, just pick a hand gesture they will remember and teach them to get in on their own. Unless jumping is a problem, but use encouragement, pets, and treats to train for, “Get in the car.” Just like inviting them on your lap or a couch, just patting the floor of the car will do. If jumping is an issue, teach them to put their front legs up and you can lift from the back — hands under the belly past the ribs and before the hips.
Very seriously consider back seat covers unless you’re driving a vehicle you are long past caring about how it looks. Between dog hair, slobber, and maybe the occasional accident, the area your dog travels on is going to suffer. I recommend a full back seat car cover that will protect the bottom and back of the seat and is made from polyester. They aren’t very expensive, they won’t break, and the dogs won’t mind it. There’s also a trunk cover that does the same thing. Cleaning just involves shaking it and using a damp rag to wipe it down. And it’s waterproof for dogs that hunt or swim or get caught in the rain. Another option is a dog hammock if you don’t have passengers in the back seat. Like the car covers, it is easy to clean. It will keep your dog from climbing over the seat, it’s really comfortable, it may help with car sickness, and if there is an impact, it has some give to help prevent canine injuries. Cool!
You might also consider crating your dog. In addition to keeping them from wandering around the car, they actually feel protected. There are wire crates and there are plastic crates, whichever your dog is used to or what you prefer. The wire crates are only slightly less expensive, but you can usually fold them up when you aren’t using them. If you do opt for a crate, get a size big enough where Pooch can move around and stand up. You get cramped on long drives, and she does, too.
Do I really need to tell you not to lower the windows all the way down if your dog isn’t restrained? Didn’t think so.
If your dog isn’t used to traveling in the car, start her off by just sitting in it with her with her car seat or harness on. Work up to short trips, then longer ones. NEVER NEVER NEVER leave your dog in a hot car! Check out YouTube for people breaking out car windows to save overheated animals! Once you start on your trip, make frequent stops, but keep her stomach empty except for all the water she wants. I don’t know ONE SINGLE PERSON that enjoys dog vomit! So here’s tip on car sickness. Again, keep food out of the stomach. Second, don’t use an enclosed crate. It helps for the dog to look and see what’s going on. They can look around and forget about the movement of the car. Decreased anxiety equals less chance of puking. Lowering the car windows a little and letting a breeze through is something to consider, too.
Speaking of puking, you should protect your car from liquids coming out of your pet. Your dog needs to be well-behaved and housebroken. NO ONE wants someone’s dog jumping, barking, or being a general pest. Don’t try to sneak your furry friend into the hotel, either. Call ahead to make sure your pet is welcome and if he isn’t, go somewhere else. Take him or her out on a regular basis for potty breaks and to relieve boredom, so a ground floor room with a door to the outside is a good idea. Plan on what to do with Spot if he can’t go along. I got a hefty bill when I put my boy in the bathroom while I went out for dinner and he chewed the wallpaper off. The hotel may know of dogsitters in the area, or you can Google before you go.
WHAT TO TAKE ALONG
Have your pet’s vaccinations record handy, either on your phone or in paper form. Keep ID tags on him even though he has a microchip (He DOES have a microchip, doesn’t he?!!). In addition, take a recent photo of him in case you get separated. “A smallish brown dog with short hair” may not be enough to get a fix on his whereabouts. Be sure and pack two leashes in case one gets lost or broken, car harnesses or seat for car trips, tick spray, and food and water bowls that don’t tip over. If there’s room in the car, sincerely consider a crate. They are soothing for Fido, and will help take the stress for everyone out of being in the hotel room. Be sure it is big enough for your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down. Put in a comfortable mat and his favorite toys . . . but not squeaky ones or someone will lose their mind. Better throw in some towels and spray cleaner . . . just in case.
Also, get the telephone numbers for vets along your travel route and 24/7 emergency animal clinics in case something terrible should happen. Take along your own vet contact numbers in case you want his advice or a conference call is needed.
WHERE TO GO
Plan where you want to go and research interesting places where you can visit with dogs. You’d be surprised at what’s available! There are many parks and hiking trails that don’t allow dogs, even on a leash (boo!). But there are many that do! Beaches should give thumbs up, too, before you head for the seashore. Wine tasting, ball parks, and restaurants (particularly with patios) have started to realize that dog owners are looking for places to go with their four-legged best friends. You just have to ask and thank goodness for the internet!
I would LOVE for you to post your comments and photos below! I encourage people to travel with their pets to help share the experience and make a lifetime of memories. Watch the video below for techniques on buckling in your dog and other interesting tip.
Watch this great traveling with your dog video!