I’ve taken many cross country trips with my dogs over the years. While long drives can be fun and relaxing, it helps to be prepared for the unexpected too. Here are a few tips I’ve learned to make trips stress free and fun for all.
Plan your days and know where you’ll be stopping for the night. Making hotel reservations ahead of time will ensure you have a safe and comfortable place to spend the night. Be aware that not all hotels accept dogs and many have dog limits on either number of dogs or size. Many hotels also charge a per night fee for each dog as well.
Seek out dog friendly stops on your journey such as parks, beaches and hiking trails so you and your pups can get out of the car and get a bit of exercise.
Have a list of emergency veterinarians handy, just in case
Road Trip Essentials
You won’t always have access to the same stores on your trip as you do at home. They may not carry your dog’s special food or other items you need so it’s best to plan ahead and bring them with you. Here’s a packing list of items you’ll want to be sure to include:
- Current medications
- Leashes/collars (take extras, just in case)
- Updated ID tags on your dog’s collar
- Poop bags
- First Aid kit (bandages, gauze, Benedryl, scissors, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, hydrogen peroxide, thermometer, blanket, muzzle, nail trimmer, zip lock bags, etc.)
- Dog boots if you’ll be taking extended walks/hikes on hot or rocky, surfaces
- Your dog’s favorite toys & chews
- Kongs and other food type puzzle toys to keep your dog busy
- Paper towels
- Enzymatic cleaning solution in case of accidents
- Dog bed/mat
- Treats/Treat bag (you’ll want to keep up your training!)
- Copy of your dog’s vaccination records
- Cooling jacket if you’ll be in hot weather
In order to have an enjoyable and safe trip together, here are a few safety reminders:
Secure your dog safely in your car. The last thing you want if you stop suddenly or are in an accident is for your dog to become a projectile. If your vehicle is large enough to use a crate, that is the safest form of travel for your pup. Be sure to secure the crate in the vehicle to prevent it from moving around. Another option to keep your dog riding safely is to use a doggy seatbelt. There are many varieties so choose one that works best for your dog and your type of vehicle.
Always have your dog on leash at rest stops. Frequent stops so you both can stretch your legs will help the trip go more smoothly. When getting out of the car, put the leash on while you’re both in the car, open the door just enough to grab the leash and then let your dog out. The “wait at the door exercises” you learned in class come in very handy here.
Don’t allow your dog to drink from stagnant water. There are lots of bacteria lurking and you don’t want to make an unexpected trip to the vet for vomiting or diarrhea episodes.
Don’t leave your dog in the car, even in the shade. Cars heat up in just moments and your dog can not only suffer heat stroke but could die.
Update Microchip Information. In the unfortunate event that your dog gets lost, you’ll want to be sure you can be contacted when he is found. Make sure your dog’s microchip information is up to date and include at least one phone number you can be reached at while traveling.
The more prepared you are, the more relaxed you’ll be on your trip. Traveling with your dog can be such a great adventure with a little preparation, packing all the essentials, and good planning.