Tips & Tricks for the Best Road Trip with Your Dog
If you love watching the world zoom by on a summer road trip, there’s no better companion than your canine best friend. Here are our best tips and tricks for a successful road trip with a dog in tow!
Get Your Dog Comfortable in the Car
If your pooch has never had to drive further than the vet’s office, a cross country road trip with your dog in tow should not be the first thing on your to do list. Before you consider taking them far and wide, you should make sure that your dog is comfortable and happy in your car.
It’s best to acclimate them to car travel when they’re as young as possible to set them up for success when they’re older. If you skipped over car rides in their puppy years or adopted them later in life, don’t worry! They can learn to be pros in the car too.
Start with small trips in the car, and work your way up to longer journeys. Give them lots of praise and high-value treats if they need encouragement. If they have problems with car sickness, try not to feed them for at least a couple of hours before you need to start driving—that will help you avoid any puke on your backseat.
Once they get comfortable on shorter trips, stretch it out further. Try a full-day trip and maybe even overnight. Once they nail that, they’re ready for the long haul.
Give Them Their Own Seat
Every dog has their favorite spots to hang out in the house, and the same rule applies to your car! They’ll be happier and more secure with their own zone, so set up a blanket, dog bed, crate, or specialized dog car seat just for them. Any time they get in the car, they’ll know to go to their spot, which will make the trip more relaxing for them and you—no more swerving as they try to climb into your lap on the highway.
Bring the Essentials and Their Favorites
Think through all the things your dog needs in a day and make sure they get packed into one of your bags. That includes basics like food, water, leashes, and poop bags, just-in-case items like dog tags and vaccination records, and the items which make your best friend happy. That could be the cuddly blanket they sleep with or their favorite ducky toy, plus plenty of treats.
Keep a Regular Schedule
Regularity might sound like a tall order when you’re driving cross country, but it’s the little things that matter most. Give your dog constant access to water just like you would at home, and make sure to feed them breakfast and dinner at the same times you normally would.
You also have to factor in regular potty breaks. Keeping on their normal meal schedule will help you to know how often to stop on your road trip with your dog—about how often you let them out on any other day. If you’re on a road trip with a large dog, you can anticipate fewer bathroom breaks. If you’re on a road trip with a puppy…well, expect frequent stops and bring some piddle pads in case of accidents.
Pick Dog-Friendly Destinations
As much as we wish we could bring our dogs everywhere, not every travel destination matches our enthusiasm. Doing your research while you’re still in the trip planning phase will save you a major headache when you arrive at the state park only to discover that dogs are banned almost everywhere.
You can consult a dog road trip app or pet travel planning website like Bring Fido to help you find dog-friendly excursions and pet-friendly hotels—and even which ones are near dog parks. If you’re planning a dog friendly road trip to Florida for example, a couple of quick searches can provide a range of accommodations and tell you the best tours of the Everglades that will welcome Marshmallow on board the boat with you.
Should you take your dog on a road trip? You know your dog best, but if you’re asking us…it’s a pretty dang good idea. Whether you’re packing the family into the minivan or hitting the open road for a solo road trip with your dog, this will be an experience that both you and your canine best friend remember for a lifetime.