Here are some tips to make the trip more comfortable for you and your furry friend.
Plan your trip
Pick a hotel
Deciding where you want to go can be stressful when you are considering your dog’s happiness. Once you pick a lodging location, call to confirm they accept dogs and what restrictions they have such as weight and extra fees.
Plan your route
Next plan out your route for potential break locations. You and your dog will need to stop to stretch and take potty breaks. If you can rent an RV or camper with a bathroom, that solves your problem! But if that’s not an option, try stopping at places that will allow you to take your pet with you to the restroom such as a pet store like Petco, Petsmart, or veterinary offices. You can also look for retailers like ACE Hardware, Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, Home Goods, Lowes, and TJ Maxx that are pet friendly and have public restrooms. Just be sure to ask before bringing your pet inside!
Pack Essentials for your pup
Packing the essentials for your dog such as food, water, harnesses, leashes and medicine is obvious. If your dog doesn’t do well in a hotel room, bring a collapsible crate so you don’t have to worry about him destroying the room and hurting himself. But you’ll also want to be sure to have up to date dog tags. Make sure your contact info on their dog tag is up to date in case your dog somehow gets away. Same goes with the contact information associated with their microchip. Bring a copy of your dog’s vaccination record in case they get sick or need to be boarded for a day. Keep it in your glovebox with your insurance card and other info.
But don't forget to bring a few of their favorite toys and treats to make them feel more comfortable. If they have a favorite blanket or pillow like my dog, you’ll want to be sure to bring that along as well. A first aid kit is also good for you and your dog in case of emergencies.
Consider where you are traveling to and if necessary, bring a sweater or booties so your dog will be comfortable in the new environment. Also grab extra doggie poop bags to be prepared! These can double as garbage bags for your car to throw your own trash in so your dog doesn't get into your leftovers. We love the Earth Rated Lavender scented ones to hide the stinky poo smell and they’re super strong!
Keep your dog safe in the car
Safety is a top priority when your pup is in your car. You want to be sure they are harnessed in so they do not propel through the car in case of an accident. A dog seatbelt can be clipped into the belt buckle and secure your pup from jumping out when you have to get out to pump gas or stop at the rest stop. Practice using a harness or hammock on short trips around town so your dog can get used to it before a long trip.
Using a dog sling or hammock is recommended as a very safe and comfortable way to transport your dog. Not only this, but they also keep your car safe from your dogs fur and nails. We love a hammock like this because it has a pocket to store their leash for quick grabbing while being scratch proof, thus saving your car seats. It also has a mesh window between the front seats for ventilation and allowing your pup to be able to easily see you. This hammock is not only pretty durable and non slip as well as washable, but comes in XL to easily fit an SUV like a Ford Explorer. Rocky loves that he doesn’t have to worry about sliding off the leather seats onto the floor so he is much more secure and safe on his rides!
Pack food from home to avoid having to stop on the way several times the first day or two. Or use the stop for lunch or dinner to get a break from the road and experience the local food scene with your dog. Find restaurants with pet friendly seating or call in a take-out order and find a nearby park for a picnic with your pup. Consider feeding your dog at his regular time while you’re eating so he feels more comfortable copying your behavior.
If you have to stop and leave your dog in the car, be sure to keep them safe by parking in the shade, putting a sunscreen on your windshield, open windows if it is not too hot out, or leave the remote start on cool or heat depending on the temperature. Put a note on your dash or in a window that says, “I’m inside using the restroom. The car is running with the A/C (or heat) on. If you think my pet is in distress, please call my cell phone at 000-000-0000.” Always go with your gut and think of your dog’s safety first.
Reward your dog with positive reinforcement and treats every time they go to the bathroom quickly when making a pitstop. If you can find a local dog park on the way to let him run, that will not only let him get some energy out but generally help him potty quicker. You can always take him for a quick walk in a side neighborhood or parking lot of a store if you can’t find a park.
These tips will prepare you and your dog for some special bonding time while you travel. Try them on your next road trip with your dog and let us know how they worked in the comments below! Happy travels!
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