Although most dogs get excited when going on a road trip, it can be stressful for you and your dog if there’s no preparation and planning. Aside from planning the itinerary for the trip, there are a few points you need to keep in mind for your dog’s peace of mind while traveling in the car. Here are ten tips for a hassle-free road trip with your dog!
10 Tips For A Safe Car Trip With Your Dog

  Thu, Jun 3, 2021 11:22 PM

At some point in their lives, dogs will have to travel, either just for a quick trip to their vet or an overnight vacation and road trip. Most pet owners prefer bringing along their furbaby on vacation because after all, they are part of the family.

Although most dogs get excited when going on a road trip, it can be stressful for you and your dog if there’s no preparation and planning. Aside from planning the itinerary for the trip, there are a few points you need to keep in mind for your dog’s peace of mind while traveling in the car.

Here are some steps and guidelines to prepare for your dog's needs for an enjoyable and fun road trip!

Dog Essentials To Bring

Being away from home, your dog will become a bit confused with its new surroundings. To help your dog and make them feel comfortable, it is best to bring along their most used items. Here is a list of dog travel essentials that you have to take with you.

  • Bedding

Aside from being a comfortable place to sleep for your dog, bedding will also help him to become more familiar inside a car for a long time since the bedding has its scent on it.

If your car does not have enough space for your dog’s bedding, you can also bring a blanket that you use. This will double as a comfortable place to sleep on and will give off your scent that will offer additional comfort and security.

  • Collar with ID tag

It is mandated by law that all household pets should have an identification tag with them at all times. It will ensure that you can find your dog more easily in case he runs off from you.

  • Leash & muzzle

In some countries, bigger dogs are required by law to wear muzzles, such as when traveling via public transport in France. If you are planning to travel overseas with your dog, get him used to wear a muzzle.

As for leashes, it is a necessity to have one even when not traveling with a dog. A leash is an important accessory to keep your dog within your vicinity without much worry.

It is recommended to use a short leash when bringing your furbaby to and from the car, when walking around the hotel, and when going to dog-friendly establishments like a restaurant and a mall. Also, bring along a longer leash if you decide to walk your dog in nearby parks or when heading to the beach. For convenience, bring a retractable leash that can be used in both scenarios.

  • Dog seat belt

Seatbelts are lifesavers, not just for humans, but for our furry companions too. It is best to install a dog seat belt if you will be frequently bringing your dog along a trip. Aside from keeping your dog safe, a dog seat belt will also prevent your dog from moving around too much in the car, which can be distracting when driving.

  • Poop bags

Don’t forget this item when going outside for quite some time, whether it be when walking your dog to a park or when going on a road trip. As much as possible, take on a full roll of poop bags since it does not weigh much and will not take much space in your luggage.

  • Dog food

Dogs live their lives within a routine. All of their daily actions are already scheduled for them in their body and mind clock, so if you will be traveling within their feeding time, Unless your dog’s current food is a well-known brand and you are sure that you can buy it somewhere you’re traveling to, your dog’s favorite food kibbles should be within reach.

  • Plenty of water

We have tackled in our previous article how much water a dog should be taking daily. And since you and your dog will be staying in your car for a few hours, it is best to bring along liters of fresh drinking water to quench their thirst. Don’t forget to bring more than you need because you will never know when traffic might hit your route.

  • Food & water bowls

Aside from dog food and water, bring along respective bowls for hassle-free feeding and drinking time. There are collapsible dog and water bowls available in the market that will not take up much space in your luggage or your dog’s travel bag.

  • Favorite toys

Keeping their favorite toys along the trip will provide comfortability and security to your dogs since they have something that has their scent on and a thing that they recognize from home. It will also help your dog to get settled in faster in a hotel if you scatter their toys around the area.

10 Tips for a Safe Car Travel With Your Dog

Now that you have prepared all the essentials you need to bring for your dog’s comfort and convenience, here are some tips for a safe car trip for you and your dog.

  1. Keep your dog restrained during the ride and with you when out of the car.

Keeping your dog seated in one place will prevent them from hopping around your car which may distract you from driving. Although there are airbags in your car, it isn’t enough to save your dog’s life if ever an accident happens.

Secure your pet in the back seat with a harness or a dog seat belt to ensure that they are comfortable sitting and not being constricted by the tighter built-in seat belts of your car.

  1. Get your dog familiar with riding a car.

If your dog is one of those kinds who does not feel excited when riding a car, then you have to “train” them first to get accustomed to car travel.

Take several short trips with your dog before taking them with you on a long road trip. Take them when going out for groceries, when picking up dry cleaning, or when doping any errands that need driving to. Gradually increasing the traveling length of these shorter trips to work up to long-distance travel with dogs.

  1. Feed your dog a light meal.

Three to four hours before your leave, feed your dog with small portions of their food to avoid motion sickness. Remember not to feed your dog on a moving vehicle because they might make a mess and may cause car sickness. Always stop your car on the side of the road while they are eating or drinking water.

  1. Never leave an unattended dog in a parked car.

Your car is a giant oven for your dog if it is left in direct sunlight for quite some time and if the air conditioning is turned off. It can be life-threatening if the internal temperature of your car goes higher than 70°F or lower than 35°F.

It is best to bring your dog along if you will be going out of the car for quite some time, but make sure to put him on a carrier or attach him on a leash/harness.

  1. Do not allow your dog’s head to stick out the window.

In movies and TV shows, we may have seen several scenes where a dog sticks their head out of the window and “feels the wind” against them, and there's no denying this makes some dogs delighted, and it is adorable to see. However, experts suggest that this can be dangerous because air particles may irritate and injure their eyes.

  1. Stop frequently for exercise and potty breaks.

Dogs have a smaller bladder than humans so they are more prone to peeing all of a sudden. To prevent having accidents in your back seat, make a stopover once in a while to let your dog pee and walk around as exercise, every 90 mins to 2 hours is a general rule to follow. Trust us, you will need this breather, too.

  1. Carry your pet's important documents with you.

If you are planning to travel across state or to international borders, it is best to bring along a health certificate, rabies vaccination papers, and other veterinary files.

  1. Tire your dog out before traveling.

If your dog has used up all their reserved energy before taking a trip, he will be more likely to just sleep in the car. As much as possible, encourage your dog to a tiring, energetic play at the local dog park or your backyard. Play fetch, catch the ball, tag, or any activity that will surely wear them out.

  1. Keep your dog entertained.

If you are not able to completely tire your dog out and still have pent-up energy, keep them entertained and occupied in your back seat.

You may keep the radio on if you are not talking and let your dog play with a chew toy or a Kong through the trip. The chewing will wear him out sooner or later, which will consequently make him fall asleep.

  1. Instruct your kids not to annoy or tease the dog.

If you have kids on your road trip, instruct your kids not to tease or annoy the dog that might cause a commotion that can be distracting to the one driving.

Conclusion

Although traveling somewhere far is really stressful, remember that it is a vacation - not just for you but for your dog, too! A calm owner is always a pet parent of a calm dog. If our pets can sense that we are stressed out, they might feel the same way too.

Wherever you are going with your dog, remember to pack up his essentials to avoid any inconvenience along the way. And remember these tips for a hassle-free, memorable road trip!