Things You MUST Know About Car Travel with Your Dog

  Vacations are a lot more fun if you share them with your best friend! If you plan to take your dog with you, careful planning and safety precautions will make travel more enjoyable for both of you.


   With the summer around the corner, you may have the face the choice between boarding your dog at a kennel or taking him along. If you are traveling by car, bringing your dog with you may be an option. Rest assured that given the choice, if your dog enjoys car travel, he would much prefer coming with you than being left behind. The great news is that nowadays, there are more and more pet friendly hotels along the way that accept dogs. To make your car travel with Fido a breeze, you want to make sure that you bring along some essentials and that you plan your trip in advance so to prevent any major hassles along the way.

Bring Your Doggy Documents
  It’s always a good idea to bring along some dog documents with you just in case. Your dog’s medical records are always good to take with you just in case your dog would have a medical emergency. Make sure you also bring your dog’s vaccination records. Depending on where you travel, your dog’s vaccination status and a recent health certificate may be required across State lines and international borders. Make sure your dog is always wearing his updated ID tags and that you have his microchip information.


Safety First!
  It’s a lot safer for everyone if your dog is securely fastened or confined during car trips. A large dog in your lap or a small one bouncing around the accelerator pedal can be distracting and dangerous—and should you have an accident, your unrestrained dog might be thrown about the cab. Popular options for safe dog travel include dog seat belts, crates and car barriers. If you use a seat belt, be sure to put your dog in the backseat. When riding in the front, dogs can be injured or even killed if you have an accident and an airbag deploys.

Don’t forget to microchip your dog before leaving home, and attach an ID tag with your cell phone number to his collar. If you’re traveling to multiple places during your trip and you don’t have a cell phone, you can buy inexpensive temporary ID tags to use along the way.
  Never leave your dog in a hot or cold car unattended. Doing so isn’t just uncomfortable for your dog—it can be life threatening.
  Identify emergency animal clinics close to locations you plan to visit during your trip. This is an especially important precaution if your dog is enjoying his golden years.

Always Book in Advance
  Hotels that accept pets are growing greatly in numbers, but it’s always a good practice to book your room in advance. Better be safe than sorry. While there are more and more pet friendly hotels, consider that many have restrictions on size, therefore, you don’t want to be stuck on the road with no hotels accepting your pooch just because he’s a big fellow. Also, don’t forget to check the hotel’s policies on leaving your dog alone in the room.


Crating your dog for travel
  It’s natural to feel bad about crating your dog. After all, you wouldn’t want to be crated. But don’t project your feelings onto your dog. They don’t mind the crate and some even feel safer in one.
  The most important thing you can do is make sure your dog has been well exercised before he goes in the crate. If he’s burned off his excess energy, he’ll be more inclined to rest.
  Make sure there’s nothing in the crate that can harm your dog. Leashes and loose collars are especially dangerous items that could present a strangling hazard.
  Keep your energy positive. Don’t present the crate like it’s a prison. Show the dog the crate and open the door. Don’t shove the dog in the crate. Let him go into the crate on his own. When he’s inside and comfortable, you can close the door. Walk away with good energy and body language. If you affect a sad voice and say things like “Don’t be sad. Mommy and Daddy will be back soon,” your dog is going to think something’s wrong and get anxious.
  Come back in 15 minutes. This will ease the dog’s separation anxiety next time you crate him. But don’t take him out of the crate. Remember that you’re not projecting that the crate is a bad thing. Just open the door and he can come out when he’s ready.


Take Along Doggy Essentials
  On travel day, it’s easy to feel rushed and overwhelmed and you risk forgetting some important essentials. Prepare a checklist of the important things that your dog needs and check them off the list as you get ready on travel date. Food, treats, toys, food bowl, a spill-proof water bowl, leash, brushes, a doggy first aid kit, your dog’s crate, bed, blanket, medications and your dog’s documents are some important doggy essentials you definitively do not want to leave behind.

Driving with your dog
  It’s usually a good idea to crate your dog when riding in the car. You’ll be less distracted while driving which is safer for both of you. It also prevents your dog from becoming a projectile if you have to stop fast, also reducing the chance of injury for both of you. Speaking of projectiles, don’t feed your dog a lot before the trip as they are prone to motion sickness. Don’t feed your dog while you’re moving either. Wait until there’s a break and you can give her a small snack, preferably high in protein. It’s also good to spend a little time playing or walking during the break to get rid of some pent-up energy. And of course, don’t leave your dog in a parked car, especially when it’s warm out. Even with the window cracked open, the car can quickly turn into an oven, and your dog will get dehydrated.


Plan Frequent Stops
  It’s a good idea to have a planned itinerary so you can make frequent stops as you travel. Your dog will need to stop every few hours to relieve himself and stretch his legs. Many highways are equipped with rest areas and some of them have a relief zone just for dogs. It’s a good idea to be aware of how many of these areas are on your route. Sometimes, there may be several miles in between a rest area and another and you do not want to miss one if the next won’ be available for the next several hours of travel.

Keep Fido Busy
  A long car drive may get boring for your dog and he may become restless. Boredom can transform into nuisance behaviors such as barking, pacing and whining. Stock on some durable chew toys or strategically stuff a Kong or some hollow bones with some goodies. This should keep your dog entertained enough for a while. It’s always a good idea walking your dog for some time or taking him for a romp in the dog park before traveling. A tired dog is a good dog.


To medicate or not to medicate your dog

  With almost as large a selection of pharmaceuticals as humans, it may be tempting to medicate your dog with a sedative or calmative for the trip. I don’t recommend medicating your dog. You don’t want to start a pattern that ends with a reliance on pills for you or your pet. You possess all the tools to keep your pet calm with your voice, attitude, and body language.

Have your Car Inspected
  As if breaking down during car travel isn’t annoying enough, it can be substantially problematic when you have Fido along for the ride. What if your car will need to be towed? Where are you going to keep him while they fix the car? You’re better off doing everything you can to keep your car in good working order before you leave. A thorough inspection is a must and don’t forget to have the mechanics ensure that your AC is in good working order.
Protect your Car
  A long trip in the car with Fido may cause some damage to your backseats. His long nails may scratch the surface, or he may drool or get car sick. Not to mention muddy paws, if you happen to stop in an area when it’s raining. It’s helpful to protect your car’s backseats with a well-fitting cover that you can utilize for the entire length of the trip.
Dogs Who Dislike Car Rides
  Although some dogs gleefully bound into the car, others seem to hate car rides. If you have a dog who seems afraid, anxious or uncomfortable during car trips, you’ll need to help him get over his fear or discomfort long before you take a road trip.
  The first thing to do is speak with your dog’s veterinarian. Your dog may suffer from carsickness. Even if he doesn’t vomit in the car, he might still feel nauseated. Watch for drooling, trembling or a hunched posture. A vet can tell you about medications that may remedy this problem.
  If your dog is fearful of car rides, you’ll have to do some exercises to change the way he feels. The key is to start small. Feed at least one meal a day in the car. At first, keep the car turned off for the whole meal. Over a period of a few weeks, work up to short rides. If the rides end at a fun destination, like a hiking trail or dog park, your dog may get over his fear quickly! 
Nights on the Road
  Make sure the hotel, bed-and-breakfast or campsite where you plan to stay allows dogs. You can search for places that allow dogs online.  When making reservations, ask about specific pet policies. Some hotels don’t allow guests to leave their dogs in hotel rooms, even if they’re kept in crates. Others ask for a pet deposit or charge a non-refundable pet fee.
  At the end of a long day, it’s great to relax with a calm dog in your hotel room or at your campsite. If you and your dog have been hiking all day, he should quiet down naturally. If you’ve been driving, take time to let your dog stretch his legs before settling in for the night. A nice jog, game of fetch or a visit to a local dog park will help expend pent-up energy.
If your dog barks at sounds outside your hotel room, he may disturb other guests—and you may be asked to leave. Try some white noise. Leaving a fan on may help muffle the sounds of footsteps in the hallway.
  Give your dog something to chew before bedtime. Offer him a bully stick or a Kong toy stuffed with something delicious. Chewing and licking are very soothing to dogs and may help yours get to sleep.
Traveling with a dog can be a fun experience for both of you. Just remember to be as prepared as possible wherever you go. The more homework you do on dog travel, the fewer surprises there will be. Don’t forget to make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and above all, of course, be calm and assertive. A balanced dog makes the best travel companion.
Happy travels!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *