Your summer road trip wouldn’t be complete without that lovable, huggable furry child of yours — your dog! To help make sure you both enjoy the ride, whether it’s a day trip or a week-long adventure, we’ve put together our top tips for traveling by car with your favorite furry family member.
Before you hit the road…
Get your dog familiar with the car by letting him or her sit in it with you (without leaving the driveway). Then, go for short rides around town.
Check your dog’s collar, ID tag and leash to make sure they’re all updated and in good shape. Is the leash fraying or the ID tag out-of-date? Performing these checks will help prevent your dog from getting loose, at say, a gas station in the middle of nowhere, and can give travelers the information they need to return your dog to you if he or she runs off.
Pack a pet travel kit! Include food, bottled water, plastic bowls, a blanket or sheet for makeshift bedding (and to limit shedding on your backseat), disposable baggies for rest stop waste and old washcloths or baby wipes to clean your dog’s feet in case they splash in roadside puddles.
Call ahead or research the rules and policies associated with pets at your destination. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your hotel late at night, only to find out that they don’t allow dogs. How ruff! Visit Pet Friendly Hotel Chains to see if your hotel is a fan of Fido.
While driving with your dog…
Don’t let them roam free in the vehicle. According to AAA, an unrestrained 80-lb dog, like a typical adult Lab, becomes a projectile of 2,400-lbs at just 30 mph. A situation like that could be unsafe for you, your passengers and your pup. Secure “Fido” in a carrier crate, in a special harness, in a booster seat or in the back of an SUV with a mesh barrier.
Stop often for bathroom and exercise breaks. You may be able to handle six straight grueling hours on the road, but your pup can’t. Just like you’d stop for small children, stop early and often to allow your dog to stretch their legs (especially if they’re restrained in a harness or crate) and explore the scents of the world. After all, traveling is all about new experiences!
Keep their food intake to a minimum. Offer fresh water during every bathroom break, but hold the kibble until you reach your destination. Like people, pets can suffer from motion sickness too!
Don’t leave them alone in a hot car, even if you crack the windows. When it’s 80 degrees outside, your car will be a staggering 114 degrees in less than 30 minutes says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
When you reach your destination…
Read up on great dog spots in the area. You never know who you’ll sniff or what kind of snacks you’ll try! There could be great dog-friendly restaurants, out-of-this-world walking trails or pet meet-up events just miles away from your destination. Check out BringFido.com for vacation ideas specifically for pet lovers!
Don’t leave your dog unattended for long periods of time. You want to do your best to respect the facility and other guests. Many dogs will bark or destroy property if left alone in a strange place.
Make it a great experience for you, your dog and the hotel. One bad experience with a pet could cause hotel management to change their policy about pets. Don’t ruin things for other pet owners. Do your best to keep your dog calm and leave your room in great condition.