May 24, 2019 5 min read

What’s better than a road trip?

A road trip with your dog, of course!

Dogs are loving and great company, which makes our four-legged friends the best travel buddies ever. However, you can’t just hop in your car and drive off into the sunset. There is some prep-work you’ll need to do first. 

Before You Leave

A good road trip needs a good plan. While most dogs are pretty low maintenance pets, they do need special care and attention while traveling. Keeping them comfortable while on the road is the key to keeping them happy.

·        Practice Riding in the Car

If your dog isn't used to car rides, take time to make Fido accustomed to the idea of riding in one. Take it slow, going in and out of the vehicle while parked, with the engine off. Take short trips around the block to start.

Be sure to give plenty of rewards. Also, driving to a fun place like your local park will ensure your dog doesn’t associate car rides with the vet.

·        Drop by the Doggie Clinic

Speaking of the vet, make an appointment to see one before your trip. The doctor can do a check-up to see if any health issues may prevent your dog from traveling. Make sure that all your dog's vaccinations are current and fit for where you're going. If your dog gets motion sickness, ask the vet for medications to help with the effects.

·        Pack for your Pack

Your stuff goes in one bag, and your dog's stuff goes in another. It's imperative that Rover has his own pack that can carry everything he needs for the trip. Don't forget to bring a leash, dog tags, harness, blanket, toys, food, water, treats, medication, first aid, and your dog's documentation. If you need to buy some new doggy products for this road trip, check out review websites like to ensure you have the best gear for your dog.

·        Something Familiar

To make your dog feel more comfortable during the trip, bring something from home, like a favorite toy or bed. Having something familiar can ease your dog's stress and anxiety, especially during long drives.

·        Plan Your Route

Get out your map and plan a dog-friendly route. You should make stops at regular intervals, preferably every 2 - 3 hours or so. Choose where you make your pitstops. An ideal stop should have an area large enough so your dog can run around and play after doing doggie business.

Short walks or playtime will help drain your dog of available energy, resulting in a more relaxed mutt. Stopping is also the time you should feed and hydrate your dog.

In the Car

The car is where the magic happens. By magic, we actually mean preventable accidents. Anxiety, nausea, vomiting, scratching the upholstery, and chewing on the interiors are some of the issues that may pop up if you aren't ready. Check out these simple tips for keeping your dog safe in the car.

·        Strap and Harness

Make sure you get a secure dog harness so that Fluffy won't bother you while you're driving. Strapping your dog into the car also ensures that they won't turn into a projectile in case of a sudden stop or an accident. Also look into dog hammocks and dog car seats.

·        No Riding Shotgun

While dogs riding in the front seat are cute, it's dangerous and can lead to accidents. Driving requires 100% focus, and if you're distracted because your dog is eating the door handle or Fido suddenly jumps in your lap, you're toast. Park your dog in the back seat where it's safe.

·        No Body Parts Outside the Window

Yes, dogs love to stick their heads out the window of a moving car, but again, this is hazardous and can lead to injuries. Flying debris, trees and signposts are only some of the road hazards that can cause serious harm to your dog.

·        The Crate

If you have a larger vehicle like an SUV or minivan, consider using a crate or carrier for your dog. Crating is the safest way for a dog to travel, especially on long trips. A crate provides a secure den for your dog where they can feel safe and at home.

Make sure you furnish it with their bed and favorite chew toys. Nothing sharp should be in the crate, and it should be strapped down so your dog won't bounce around on those bumpy roads.

See here for additional tips on driving with your dog in the car.

When You Get There

You made it, congratulations! Now's the time to celebrate a bit by stretching your legs and exploring. Be sure to take it slow at first, as your dog may still be a little car sick. Give Fido some time to acclimate and get his sea legs back.

·        Check Dog Tags

Before you both go nuts exploring the beautiful scenery and chasing each other, make sure your dog's collar has the right ID tags. Consider microchipping your dog if you know that they're prone to wandering off and getting lost.

·        Supervised Roaming

When you get to your destination, don't allow your dog to roam free just yet. Use the leash and walk with your dog. You're in a whole new place that will be chock full of new sights and delightful smells that your dog may find irresistible. Fido hasn't mapped the area out yet, so it best that the two of you stick together.

·        Sleeping Arrangements

If you're camping, don't let your dog sleep rough. If your tent isn't big enough, provide Fluffy with her own shelter. The dog tent should be large and sturdy enough to keep your dog safe from the elements.

If you're sleeping indoors, set up your dog's bed and favorite things in one area of the room. Setting up a den will make your dog more comfortable when it's time to get some shut-eye.

·        Feels Like Home

Whether you're staying outdoors or in a hotel, make sure that you take something familiar that can make your dog feel more at home in their new surroundings.  Oh, and never leave your dog alone in the car.

End of the Line

Road trips are a blast, especially when your dog travels with you. There are a few more things you need to take care of to keep your dog comfortable during the trip, but these extra steps are an easy way to ensure a safe journey for the two of you.


Where are you and your dog heading off to?