Ultimate Guide To Take Your Dog on Road Trips
Have you ever wanted to take a road trip with your dog but are worried about how they will handle it? We’re here to offer you the best tips on how to travel with your dog so that it goes smoothly for both of you!
Having a built-in adventure buddy is one of the best parts of being a dog owner. Although it’s amazing to hang out with your dog in a beautiful spot, the process of getting them there can be a little tricky. Dogs can be restless and misbehave when they’re cooped up in a car for too long. Use our tips to help you turn your next doggie road trip into a relatively stress-free experience.
Step 1: Get your dog comfortable in the car
The first step is to make sure your dog is well-accustomed to the car. It’s easiest to do this when dogs are young. From four to twelve weeks old, puppies endure a crucial socialization period which allows them to adapt to different environments. To get your puppy comfortable in the car, start with short car rides where they are held in your arms and get plenty of positive reinforcement. Treats and praise will help your dog connect the memory of riding in a car with positive feelings. Over time, you can start taking them on longer rides and letting them sit on their own.
The connection between positive reinforcement and experiences clicks quicker in puppies than in adult dogs. Older dogs will take more time to feel comfortable, not scared. Use the same method with older dogs and be patient.
Another way to make sure your dog is comfortable in the car is to have a designated spot for them. Introduce the spot with familiar items like toys or a bed. Try to enforce that your dog sits in this spot each time they enter the car. Reward them with a treat if they go to their seat. Over time, your dog will come to learn that this is their spot. Training your dog to have a designated area will not only make your dog feel more confident and comfortable in the car, but it will also help you as a driver because it will prevent him or her from running around and hopping in your lap while you try to drive.
If your dog can’t seem to sit still in the car, it may be a good idea to keep them in a crate while you’re on the road. An unsecured dog can be dangerous in an accident.
Step 2: Prepare for your trip
While mapping out your road trip, make sure you’re driving through places that have open areas or rest stops for your dogs to take bathroom breaks. They will likely get restless in the car. It’s important that they can get outside every so often and run around, relieve themselves and stretch their legs.
Instead of worrying about getting things from the store, pack the essentials in advance. Some things to include are:
Food: Make sure you have more than enough for the trip and pack a can opener if your pets eat food from a can
Food and water bowls
Medical records: This will be crucial if you have an emergency on the road. In addition, you may need to show up-to-date health records when crossing state borders)
Treats: If your dog gets motion sick, bring some pet-friendly ginger chews for their stomach
Long and short leashes
Bed and blanket
Identification: Make sure your dog is always wearing a collar with an ID tag on him. The tag should legibly display his name as well as all of your current contact information. If your canine companion hasn’t been microchipped, consider having one implanted prior to hitting the road
Doggie first aid kit: Pack a first aid kit with anything you would need to treat small cuts, remove ticks, and wrap injuries
Life jacket if you are planning on doing water activities
Booties for hot or snowy destinations
Coat for colder conditions
Towels and grooming supplies for cleaning
Keep all these supplies together and in a spot where your dog can’t reach them.
Step 3: Keep your dog entertained and take frequent breaks
Your dog will need some breaks from being cooped up in the car for long periods of time. Make a pitstop with your dog every two to three hours. In addition, your dog will need stimulation throughout the trip. To make the ride easier for you both, tire your dog out before long car rides by taking them on a hike, run, or long walk. If your dog is tired out, he won’t need as much stimulation to entertain himself and will be better behaved on the ride.
If your dog needs more than this, give him a long-lasting solution that can keep him entertained. Good options for this are chew toys, bones or dog puzzles. This will keep your dog busy and prevent him from chewing on anything in the car.
Make sure to play with your dog at rest stops. A little tug of war session will work to wear your dog out mentally and physically. If you are in a large, safe, enclosed space, you can also run around or play fetch with him.
Be sure to remove your dog’s leash when entering the car so that they don’t get tangled. Put it back on as soon as you exit the car. Never allow your pet to leave the car without a leash on. They may take off on their own, especially if they are excited about or startled by their new environment.
Never leave your pup unattended in the car. There can be severe consequences of this, one being that dogs left in cars are at a high risk of heat-related illnesses. Temperatures can rise quickly and intensely inside a vehicle, even when the windows are cracked. When driving in warmer climates, keep your pet comfortable by using the AC or running a fan. Never leave them unattended.
Always make sure your dog keeps a safe distance from wildlife. Keep your dog on a leash or in a closed off area to prevent dangerous encounters with wildlife from occurring. If an attack does happen, treat it with your first aid kit as best as possible and seek medical attention immediately.
Don’t ignore your dog’s nerves! If your dog has anxiety, try to deal with it as best as possible. There are many natural stress-reducing remedies on the market, such as pressure wraps and calming supplements. For desensitization, have your dog eat meals in the car, play in the car, and practice going in and out of the car using fun car games. Do anything you can to make the car a positive experience for your pet.
Dogs truly are a man’s best friend and traveling with them can be an incredibly rewarding experience. With the right preparation and planning, you can turn your pup into your favorite adventure buddy.
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