7 tips for a road trip with your dog

It has never been so common to travel with your four-legged friends. They are part of your family after all, and besides wanting their continued company and sharing your adventures with them, keeping a dog is expensive. Staying with a stranger can also be stressful for some dogs.

Really, we don’t need to tell you the reasons why you bring your dogs. If you’re reading this, you already know why! Here has Autoblog, most of our writers have dogs and we travel with them regularly. Some are big, some are small, one is really small. In fact, the photos you see are of my own dogs, Maggie and Nellie, on various road adventures over the years.

With a little help for the reports of the Associated Press, we’ve put together this list of tips for taking a road trip with your dog, including tips and advice we’ve collected over the years. In particular, advice on where to stay, research suggestions and equipment recommendations.

Ultimately, going on a road trip with your dog can be tough. I drove from Los Angeles to Toronto and came back with these two girls there, in the middle of winter no less, and I know headaches firsthand. Hopefully these tips can help you alleviate some of them.

1. Teach them to love the car

Long before your car trip, teach your dog positive associations with the car.

“Practice makes better,” says Erdem Tuncsiper, who runs PACK Leaders Dog Training in Chicago. “Don’t make your big trip his first trip.”

Take them on as many local rides as possible and give them treats and toys to make the ride fun. Drive them to exciting places so they don’t see the car as a direct-to-vet mobile.

If a dog is apprehensive, pet parents “can encourage deeper engagement with the car by rewarding any vehicle-directed interaction – such as looking, sniffing, moving towards or entering it – and taking steps baby from there,” says Darris Cooper. , National Dog Education Manager at Petco.

Bring items like bowls and blankets that your dog is not only used to, but finds comforting, says Tuncsiper.

“That includes anything for sleeping, eating or drinking,” he says.

2. Keep your dog as comfortable as possible

“Make sure your dog isn’t stressed by the sights, sounds, or movement of the vehicle,” says Dr. Natalie Marks, a veterinarian at VCA Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago. “There are many add-ons that can help reduce stress, like playing classical music, spraying pheromones to help with relaxation, … proper restraint training, favorite treats, and not feeding at least two hours before the start of the trip to avoid nausea.”

Dogs also overheat easily, so make sure you have good ventilation (and never leave them alone in a parked car).

“If your dog is panting a lot, he’s hotter than you and needs air,” Tuncsiper said.

Excessive panting can also be a sign of anxiety. If your dog just doesn’t seem comfortable, talk to your vet about anti-anxiety medications, as well as over-the-counter chews and drops.

In terms of physical comfort, we’ve found that bringing a dog bed in the car is a great idea for those with small to medium sized dogs. Car seats are for humans, not dogs, so the dog bed can make that more comfortable and familiar for them. You can also always secure them with a safety harness.

3. Expect the trip to take longer

Dogs need regular stops to run, relieve themselves, and explore all the exciting new smells.

“We have a two- or three-hour drive time rule in our family,” says Christina Howitt, co-founder of Find Your Blue, a Kansas City-based travel company specializing in dog-friendly itineraries. “We always strive to add frequent stops… We also try to avoid driving more than five or six hours in total per day.”

4. Find places in advance where dogs are welcome

Traveling with a dog requires more anticipation and less spontaneity.

“Do your research beforehand, especially for hotels and sightseeing,” advises dog owner Leksa Pravdic, who drove her dogs, Scout and Pluto, from their home in Chicago to New Mexico, in Arizona and Colorado. “Many national parks do not allow dogs or restrict their access to certain small areas. Look for national monuments or state parks that allow dogs.

Try looking at pictures of upcoming roosts to see if one might have more grassy areas than another, or even dedicated enclosed dog parks. I also specifically researched dog parks in towns along my route with great success. Think of it as a chance for your furry friend to meet the locals.

For hotels, be sure to look carefully at each hotel’s pet policy. Many don’t allow dogs at all. Many say they allow pets, but there are important conditions. First, they often place limits on the size or number of dogs. Second, there is also almost always a pet cleaning fee, which can vary widely. If you can’t find a hotel’s pet fees on their website (they often aren’t included on third-party booking sites), be sure to call before you book. Some charge a fee per stay, some charge per dog per stay, some charge per dog per night, which really adds up.

For vacation rentals, also be sure to check the fine print of “pet-friendly” places (and also make sure the place is pet-friendly in the first place). Most also charge extra and have restrictions on size, number, and even breed. Still, these can certainly be superior as they can have courtyards (make sure they’re fully enclosed) and are generally less stressful than a hotel full of doors opening and closing, people walking out from your room and – gasp! — other dogs. To bark.

5. Pack Your Puppy’s Suitcase Responsibly

Dogs need a lot of things when they travel. Marks says the checklist should include medication, vaccination records, a dog first aid kit, an extra leash and collar, their ID tag, a crate (in case you need to leave your dog alone where you are staying) and collapsible bowls.

Bring at least two days worth of extra food and water.

There is no shortage of collapsible and travel-friendly waterers. However, we found the MalsiPree dog water bottle to be a revolutionary product for road trips (pictured above). With the push of a button, you can slowly dispense water as needed. This reduces the risk of splashing water in your car and wasting the limited water you have on board when your dog inevitably doesn’t want to drink it all.

6. Safety is important

It is important take into account the safety of your pet when traveling by car. You buckle up, you would buckle up children, why would you want to risk your dog being injured or killed in an accident? Additionally, they could hurt you as a heavy projectile in the car in an accident, and may even cause an accident in the first place if they were in the driver’s seat or distracted you in some way. another one. Seriously, never ride with your dog on your lap.

As such, consider a dog harness for the passenger compartment, a cargo area fence accessory for dogs, or a cargo area kennel. For a dog harness, we strongly suggest doing your research. Many will claim to secure a dog in a car, but haven’t been certified for the task (in other words, they don’t actually do the job). While it’s nice that you see products advertise that they’ve been “crash tested”, it’s rare that they actually say how they performed in those crash tests. Imagine if car ads did that.

If anything, carefully review how these tests were conducted and whether they appear legit. Unfortunately, there is little reliable third-party data like you would for cars or child seats. The Sleepypod Clickit and Zugopet The Rocketeer received a Center for Pet Safety endorsement for crash test performance several years ago, but that’s about it for now. I bought my car harnesses seven years ago based on a third party test that I can no longer find on the internet (sorry), and even though they weren’t the the safest, they were more comfortable and still performed well enough in the event of a collision. This lack of data may be disappointing, but don’t let that deter you. Restraining your dog is safe for him and safe for you.

7. How to clean the car after the trip

So you had a good trip with your dog…unfortunately your dog has been in your car for a long time now. That means it could be a little stinky (good grief, Nellie, your breath!) and absolutely covered in dog hair (damn, Maggie, your fur!).

A simple handheld vacuum with pet attachment that you already have around the house may be enough to get the job done, but chances are it won’t. For a really in-depth job, check out our video guide on how to remove dog hair from car interiors below.

Features Associated Press reporting

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