Taking your dog on a road trip doesn't have to be stressful. With planning and preparation, you can both have a great time.
Keep reading for tips to make traveling with your four-legged best friend safe, fun, and hassle-free.
What you need to bring
Food, water, and bowls
He'll do better in an unfamiliar environment if he has his own bowls and the food he's accustomed to eating. Bring bottled water for stops along the way.
Leash, collar, and waste bags
He'll need a leash and collar for stops, and don't forget to bring plenty of waste bags. Leaving your dog's waste on the ground can get you a hefty fine in some areas. Plastic grocery store bags work fine in a pinch.
Medical records and identification tags
Bring copies of your dog's vaccination and medical history. If you need to leave him in the care of a boarding or doggie day care facility, they'll require proof of vaccination. Your hotel might request it as well. Make sure his identification tags are up-to-date with your cell phone number.
Even if the place you're staying provides it, he'll feel more secure with his own bedding that smells like home.
While not pleasant, identifying potential problems can help you prevent them. It'll also make them easier to deal with if they occur.
Potty problems and car-sickness
Stop every three or four hours and take him on a short walk. This will decrease the likelihood of accidents, and he'll enjoy exploring a new place. A little exercise and fresh air will make the trip more enjoyable for both of you.
Limit food in the hours before you leave. Keep him hydrated, but don't let him drink too much water, and speak with your vet before the trip. She can recommend anti-nausea medication if you're worried about motion sickness.
If he's prone to chewing at home, don't expect him to be any different in the car. Provide plenty of toys and consider crating him.
Dogs should be restrained in moving vehicles. Unrestrained dogs can interfere with your driving and become projectiles in an
accident. The best restraint device for your dog depends on his size and your vehicle.
If your vehicle is large enough to house it, a crate is one of the safest methods for transporting your dog. A crash-tested crate that's fastened into place provides the most security. Make sure it's well-ventilated and that your dog has enough room to stand up and turn around inside. A crate provides three additional bonuses: he can't chew up your car, accidents will be contained, and it can double as his bedding.
Seatbelts and harnesses
If your car isn't big enough for a crate, a doggie safety-harness is an excellent option. It gives your dog a little freedom and keeps him secured and safe. Buy one that's designed for use with seat belts.
Barriers are another good option and work well in vehicles with open areas like SUVs and mini vans. Attach the barrier to your vehicle's interior framework, and make sure it's certified to withstand your dog's weight.
While not necessities, the right apps can simplify your trip and make it more enjoyable. Bring Fido is a free iOS app that makes it easy to find dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, and parks. It explains hotels' pet policies, including fees and weight restrictions if applicable, and lets you book your room through its interface.
Dog Part Finder is another free iOS app that uses your location to find nearby dog-friendly parks. It notes whether parks require leashes and warns you away from parks where dogs aren't allowed.
Relax and Enjoy
Planning a trip with your dog requires extra work, but if you prepare for it, you'll both have a good time. Dogs are wonderful companions, and it's easier than ever to travel with them. You'll save a bundle on boarding fees and make some great memories together.