6 Tips for Summer Road Trips with Your Dog

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By Chelsy Ranard

With the longer days and warmer nights it’s now the best time to go road tripping. Whether it’s traveling for family reunions, weddings, or just for adventure, sometimes you have to bring your furry friend along or you want to bring them to experience an out of town hiking or camping trip. For many dogs it’s not an easy feat surviving a road trip. Here are some tips for you and your furry travel buddy and how to get through your summer road trips together.

Safety First

Your first priority before road tripping with your pup should be safety. If there were an accident and your dog is unrestrained in the cab they can be injured by being thrown around. If they are sitting in the passenger seat they are at risk for being hurt by the airbag. Some popular solutions to these problems are doggy seat belts, crates, and barriers. Also, make sure you have up to date identification for your pet before you go. A microchip and updated ID tags really can make the difference between finding your dog in an area that your dog doesn’t know at all. Also, never leave your dog in a hot car or travel with them in the bed of a truck. Both of these things can lead to serious injury or death for your pet.

Be Prepared

Have a packing list ready:

  • Leash
  • Water bowl & water
  • Food bowl & food
  • Treats
  • Toys (chew & fetch)
  • Waste bags
  • Blanket
  • Bed

The more things you can bring with you that will remind your pup of home the more at ease they will feel. For many dogs traveling causes anxiety and sometimes car sickness so, be prepared for an uncomfortable animal. Many times offering your dog a distraction will help so, be sure to bring a toy to keep them busy. One helpful tip is to exercise your pet before any leg of the journey. Throw a Frisbee, go on a walk, or take a swim before getting in the car. When it come to road trips, a tired dog is a happy dog. To keep them entertained and happy in the car, bring along some unique treats for them to enjoy. Instead of bringing their usual treats bring some frozen blueberries or baby carrots. Just be sure to bring treats that are safe for your pup. Grapes, for instance, are highly toxic for your dog.

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Practice

If your dog isn’t accustomed to riding in the car or doesn’t like riding in the car, try some practice sessions before heading out on the road. Take a short trip to a fun park or pet store with treats and encourage them the whole way. Use a lot of positive reinforcement and treats so that your dog associates the car with positivity. Start with shorter trips and go longer about a week in advance before the long trip. Just like any other new or negative experience, it may take some time for your dog to enjoy the car. Don’t get discouraged! Visit your vet if you are still having issues and they may be able to offer more insight or prescribe a medicine to help your pup stay calm.

Potty Time

One thing to keep in mind when traveling with your pet is the necessity for potty time. Having to stop so your dog can eliminate can add some time to your projected arrival time. There are a few things you need to know before taking your pet on a long car ride. At home your pet knows how to tell you when they need to go potty. They scratch the door, bark, sit by the door, or use a doggy door. In a car they may not know how to tell you when they need to go, so you’ll need to stop frequently. When you take them out to use the bathroom be sure to find a nice grassy area so that the asphalt doesn’t hurt their pads, they are in familiar terrain to use the bathroom, and they are away from the road. Use a leash no matter what. Stopping along a busy road can be highly dangerous for a dog without a leash. Use this opportunity to give them some water, play tug of war or fetch, and give them a treat!

Overnights

Traveling and staying overnight can be tricky with your pet. Be sure to check with any hotels or campsites to make sure they allow pets before you travel. Keep your animal’s personality in mind before deciding where/if you want to bring your dog on an overnight trip. If your dog tends to bark at any little noise, it’s probably best not to have them stay at a crowded campsite and especially a hotel. Even if a hotel allows pets, they may ask you to leave if your furry friend is bothering the other residents. Be sure to bring their bed when staying overnight so they have something with them that is from home and will make them feel comfortable and secure at night. Offer them a chew toy at night so that any anxiety they have can be channeled into the chew toy.

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Have Fun

Allow yourselves to have fun! Let your dog stick his head out of the window and feel the wind in his hair, take photos, and play road trip games. When letting your dog put their head out of the window make sure they are restrained so that they can’t jump out and make sure there are no objects that your dog can hit by having their head out of the window. Put together a doggy playlist including Baha Men’s, “Who let the dogs out,” and Elvis Presley’s, “Hound dog.” Research dog friendly stops along the way like dog parks or dog-friendly breweries. Continue to make road trips a fun and positive experience for you and your pet by giving them lots of loves and praise. Make them feel comfortable with a blanket to sleep on and a new toy or treat to chew on. Include your pet in road trip games by giving them a treat every time you see wildlife or another dog on your commute. Road trips are a great activity for the summer and can be a great activity for your pet as well.

Author Bio: Chelsy is a writer living in Boise, Idaho. She grew up in Montana and received her degree in journalism from the University of Montana in 2012. She is a fiancée, a fruity wine drinker, and a mother to a clumsy dog and judgmental cat. Follow her on Twitter!

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