Traveling with a dog isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. Regardless of your destination, having your pup by your side can make your trip more enjoyable and let’s face it, dogs love to sniff out new destinations.
Whether you’re hitting the beach, a new bark park, or taking a hike in no man’s land (we heard it’s gorgeous there), you’ll want to make sure your pup is happy along the way. If you’re stressed out due to poor planning, your canine comrade will sense it. Here are some tips on keeping things dandy by planning ahead:
1. Familiarize Your Dog with the Car
Do you remember the first time you got on a plane? You were terrified, confused and more than a little out of sorts. It’s the same for your dog when getting into a vehicle for the first, second or even third time. Now, most pups love to jump in the car and head down the road, but even the most travel friendly dogs need to be prepped for a long haul. Get your dog familiar with the car by taking him frequently on short or long trips, down several different types of roads. You’ll be more prepared and he or she will feel more confident and willing to jump up when you’re ready for a big trip.
2. Do Your Research on Hotels and then Double-Check:
There’s nothing worse than finding out that the only hotel you’re near doesn’t allow dogs. You may be able to sneak in a Chihuahua but a Labrador isn’t so easy. Check online for hotels near your destination—it will save you time and safety (because you won’t have to sleep in the car in the woods). And, even if the hotel says they accept dogs on-line there may be some restrictions—always call and verify that your pet is allowed before making a reservation or hitting the road.
3. Time your Activities with your Doggie in Mind
A large dog can hold his bladder for up to ten hours if needed, but, would you want to hold your bladder for ten? Probably not. Just because he or she isn’t whining or peeing on the seats, doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t have to take a squat. Stop every three to four hours to let your pup sign nature’s guestbook if he or she needs to.
4. Talk to Your Dog in the Car
Don’t blast the music and forget your pup in the back. The number one way to keep your pet calm and comforted on a trip is by consistently using your voice. You may hit traffic; you may almost have a fender bender (hopefully not). Make sure you’re reiterating safety and normality by speaking to your dog occasionally in a calm and confident tone.
5. Don’t Forget the Treats!
This can’t be stressed enough—treats can be a key part of having a successful trip with your dog! It’s something for him or her to look forward to at gas fill-ups, it’s calming, it’s rewarding and it reiterates the car as a positive and safe environment. Make sure you have a bag of your pup’s favorites before you head out. Chewy.com offers a great selection including these calming dog treats from Pet Naturals of Vermont.
6. Have a “Travel” Toy
You’ve probably heard of having an “away toy” for your pup. It’s a toy that is only given when you won’t be in the home—it’s a treat. The same concept goes for your pup with your car. He or she may get homesick, but having a toy that is only for the car (nothing edible or pointy) will go miles, no pun intended, in making sure your Fido is entertained and enthusiastic on his journey.
7. Utilize the Off-Leash Dog Parks
Your dog is used to being able to stretch his or her legs anytime they wish. There’s going to be a lot of pent-up energy when you finally stop for a long break. Make it count by searching out some off-leash dog parks. And make sure that you locate a vet nearby in case of any injuries while at the park—just to be on the safe side!
8. Bring a Jug of Water
You may not be lucky enough to always stop by a clean creek, and you may not be able to stop and grab a Fiji water at every exit. Bring a jug of water with you, along with a travel dog bowl to make watering easier. Make sure the water is something that is familiar to your pet’s stomach—if you give them tap water, make sure you use your home’s tap water for the journey. The tiniest changes on a trip can cause tummy issues in pets. It’s best to play it safe and go by routine when it comes to your pup’s gut.
9. Comfort is Key
You may be fine riding around with books and old food wrappers sloshing around in your vehicle, but it won’t be comfortable for your dog. Make it a clean, inviting space. Put some of your dog’s favorite scents in the car (lavender is calming for dogs, check out this brand from Natural Pet Warehouse, or even a t-shirt with your scent on it). Some dogs do best in crates, some do best in portable carriers and some dogs prefer to be out in the open in the vehicle. There’s much disagreement on which is best, but testing out each method is a great way to ensure your dog is most at ease.
10. Easy with the Road Rage!
It’s easy to forget you have a tiny passenger in the back seat, or a big passenger in the way back seat—but, try to stay aware of his presence and steer clear of sounding angry at other drivers. Your actions and tone may alert fear in your pet and cause him or her to feel stressed. Go slow, and pay attention to the road—don’t make sudden movements to show that guy behind you whose boss. He isn’t more important than your dog.
See, it’s cake! You can have your cake and eat it too—just don’t give your dog any if it’s chocolate.