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The Ultimate Guide to Road Tripping With Your Dog

Table of Contents

Clothes and toiletries? Check. 

Favorite playlists? Check. 

Snacks? Check. 

Water? Check. 

Dog? Check! 

If you’re planning a road trip with your dog, read on for important info to keep in mind as you plan and venture out on your dog-friendly road trip

Preparing for Your Trip

You’ll need to start preparing for your dog-friendly road trip long before you actually set off on your adventure

Before you leave, be sure to do the following: 

  • Visit the vet to make sure your pup is fit to travel and up-to-date on all of his immunizations.

  • Figure out your lodging, whether you’re staying in a hotel or with family/friends. Check that dogs are allowed (and invited!), and that the setting is appropriate for a dog.

  • Research vets in the area you’ll be traveling to—hopefully, you won’t need to use them, but it’s good to be prepared in case of an emergency.

  • Update your dog’s collar ID tags and microchip info as needed.

  • Go for plenty of practice car rides, gradually increasing the length each time. This will help your dog get used to the feeling of being in the car, and can help to establish a positive association with the experience (especially if he gets a treat every time). 

Packing for Your Pup

While you pack your own belongings, it’s also a good idea to pack a portable, easily accessible dog travel bag. No one wants to spend extra time rummaging through suitcases at a mid-trip rest stop! 

Your dog’s travel bag should include the following: 

  • Familiar food—traveling can be stressful enough, so it’s best to keep everything else as consistent as possible.

  • Portable food and water bowls.

  • Grooming supplies as needed.

  • Any medications that your dog takes. It’s also a good idea to put together a vet-approved dog first aid kit, just in case.

  • Vet records.

  • Leash and harness.

  • Plenty of poop bags.

  • Favorite toys—ideally, a combination of comfort objects and interactive, stimulating toys.

  • Familiar bedding and/or blankets for extra comfort.

  • Lots and lots of treats!

Securing Your Dog Safely

You may be envisioning Fido with his head hanging out the window as the two of you hit the open road. 

However, safely and comfortably securing your dog in your car is crucial. Not only will this minimize distractions for the driver, it’ll also offer some extra peace of mind that your pup won’t be able to escape out the window or door of the moving vehicle. 

There are a few options to choose from when it comes to car safety for dogs

  • Dog seatbelt, which comes in the form of a harness that attaches to the existing seatbelt.

  • Dog car seat or seat carrier (meant for small dogs).

  • Back seat hammocks, which can provide a barrier between the back seat and the driver. These are best used in conjunction with a dog seat belt for added security.

  • Pet barrier. These are typically made of mesh netting materials or bars and are designed to keep dogs from climbing over the seats.

  • Travel crate. If your dog’s crate is already a source of comfort and security, it makes sense that he may feel comfortable in a crate during car rides. Just make sure the crate is secured properly, and that your pooch feels comfortably contained rather than trapped. 

Hitting the Road

On the day you leave for your trip, for a walk immediately before you set off. This will help to get rid of any excess energy (and hopefully, bathroom emergencies). 

While you’re driving, your dog should have access to some of his favorite toys. In addition to interactive toys to keep him busy, it’s also good to provide him with familiar comfort objects—like a favorite sock

Try not to drive in stretches longer than 2-3 hours at a time; give your dog (and yourself) plenty of breaks and opportunities to stretch, run around, and use the bathroom. Pent-up energy can lead to stress; the more worn out your dog is, the better. 

Whenever you make a rest stop, never leave your dog unsupervised in your car, regardless of the temperature outside. It may be worth inviting a friend or family member along for the ride so you can tag-team while heading into any buildings where dogs aren’t allowed.

Avoiding Carsickness 

No one wants to travel on an upset stomach… or clean up a mess from a sick pup

Much to Fido’s dismay, you’ll probably need to skip his breakfast the morning of your trip—or even take away his food the night before. His tummy will thank you, though!

Stick to familiar food and treats during your trip, since you never know how your dog will react to new ingredients. Plus, the road trip itself is already enough of a change in your dog’s routine. 

Avoid feeding your dog in a moving car. Wait until you stop instead, feeding him in small amounts at a time. 

Make sure the car is well-ventilated, too. If your dog will be secured in a crate, check that he’s getting plenty of air flow. 

Pet Honesty’s Premium Hemp Calming Chews are a gentle, non-sedating way to help make stressful situations—such as car rides—more enjoyable for your dog. Made with a blend of natural ingredients such as Suntheanine, melatonin, chamomile, ginger root, and hemp seed oil, these tasty chews are designed to soothe travel anxiety and motion sickness.