Note: This is a guest post from Bonzah
You’ve packed your suitcases and backpacks, you’ve made sure you’ve got enough fuel in the tank until your first stop, you’ve checked that your favorite music and snacks are in your car and that everybody has chosen their best entertainment options while on the road. But then you turn your head and see Fido wagging happily his tail at you and remember that he’s also one of the travelling team. You may be ready to hit the road, but is Fido ready too?
Many travelers love sharing their passion for the road with those they love the most, dogs included. Here you’ll find everything you need to know and have in order to make sure that your road trip with your best four-legged friend runs smoothly and that both of you have a great experience.
1. Speak to Your Vet
Especially if you haven’t taken your dog to the vets for a while, it is a good idea to take him for a last check-up. Make sure that his vaccinations are up-to-date and ask for any additional ones that he may need if they are required at your destination or throughout the trip, such as the one against Lyme disease.
Ask the professional for a copy of your dog’s medical records and extra meds so that you can rest assured that you have enough meds in case your trip is delayed. It is not a bad idea either to ask the vet for his mobile phone number in case you need to contact him throughout the trip and if he knows any professional in your destination that you may go to if your dog requires medical attention throughout the trip or on your arrival.
2. Get Your Dog’s Documentation Ready
Check that you have packed all important information about your dog. You’ll need your pet’s medical records, his vaccination records, license and microchip number and what company he’s registered with, any medical insurance information and, needless to say, your vet’s information.
3. Are You Sure that Your Dog Is Ready?
Just as not everybody is so positively enthusiastic about spending many hours on a car, dogs are not that different either. Some are simply afraid of getting in the car, others feel carsick, while others get super excited and find it hard to stay calm. None of these situations make for a good start of a road trip with your dog. Who wants to stress out convincing a dog to jump in the vehicle, having somebody hold him to stay calm or with a sick pet?
That said, before you hit the road, help Fido get acquainted with the vehicle and especially to the vehicle in movement. Taking a few short drives and gradually extending them can make wonders for many dogs. Most of them can easily overcome dog travel sickness once they get used to the idea of being in a moving car and feel much calmer and comfortable. Rewarding him can also help Fido if he feels nervous or wound-up.
If nothing seems to work, talk to your vet. There are some sedatives that he can prescribe to Fido so that he feels better and can enjoy the experience.
4. Plan Your Trip With Your Dog In Mind
You wouldn’t go on a car trip with children without planning regular stops along the way, would you? Traveling with a dog is more or less the same. Just as children (and adults) need to move, release energy and stretch their legs, dogs also need that.
That said, make sure your road trip plan includes plenty of stops and that you are ready to make additional stops in case your dog needs to pee or poo. Besides that, there are multiple online apps that assist roadtrippers in their need for dog-friendly parks, restaurants and even accommodation facilities. Having a couple of them in your mobile phone or tablet can be really helpful!
5. Pack For Your Dog
Fido is another passenger in the car and, of course, he’ll need his own backpack with his belongings and a few treats. Once all his papers are ready, it’s time to check that the things he’ll need are ready too!
Here’s a packing list that you’ll find helpful:
- Food bowl and food for each day on the road
- Water bowl or drinker with plenty of water
- (Optional) drinkable water in case you’re not sure you’ll find it during the trip
- Leash and collar with ID tags (update the information in them, please)
- Soft crate
- Pad or blanket for sleeping
- Doggy waste bags
- Something to chew (it will help him soothe and release stress during the trip and keep him busy)
- Medical and vaccination records
- Motion sickness medication or any prescription meds he takes regularly
Organize everything as tidily as possible so that it is easier for you to find what you need when you need it and you don’t have to waste your time rambling amongst things.
Most of the things listed above if not all of them are meant for your dog throughout the road trip but there are also other essentials that he’ll need while in the car. Passengers will have to have their seat belts on all the time and your four-legged friend has to be secured as well. Driving with a loose dog can be risky both for your and his health and physical integrity.
Investing in a seat harness is a great option; some are designed to be used with existing seat belts and keep your dog safe in case of an impact. Another option is a crate; many are available in the market especially designed for transporting dogs. Crates are extremely practical when travelling and you’ll probably want to have one. They make it easy for you to keep your dog relaxed and secured when you stop for breaks or for overnight stops and they help dogs adjust better to new environments as they are familiar with their crate and it reminds them of home.
Remember that dogs usually need to get used to their crate before embracing it as their “home when not at home” so make sure you buy it quite ahead of time so that your pet can use it and get to know it.
6. Everybody Travels Safely
Road trips mean that you’ll be spending plenty of time on the road and, therefore, everybody needs to know some safety rules and stick to them. Yes, dogs included! As you’ll soon discover, many of the safety rules on the road that apply for children can be applied to dogs too.
To begin with, forget about letting your dog take his head out of the window! It’s potentially super dangerous as he can be hit by a car driving closely to yours not to mention that he can literally fly off the vehicle if he accidentally gets free from his harness.
In addition, avoid driving with a highly energetic dog. It can not only be a nuisance but it is also definitely distracting. As a rule of thumb, a tired dog is often a well-behaved dog. That said, make sure Fido has had his fair share of visiting the park and running around before putting him in a harness for a long road trip. It will help him to naturally welcome the idea of having some restful time and he may even fall asleep for a portion of the journey.
It is also important to give your dog enough room in the car. Nobody wants to travel cramped and pressed against bags. If he’s comfortable, you’ve got more chances of a nice road trip with your dog.
Dogs can be great travel partners and a road trip can be an awesome experience for everybody. Hopefully, these tips will help you plan a road trip with your dog taking all his needs into account.
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