If you have a road trip coming up, leaving your four-legged friend at home may seem unthinkable. But before you simply pack Fido into the car with the rest of the luggage, take some time to think and plan. The following suggestions can help your trip with your favorite canine companion progress smoothly from start to finish.
1. Think about whether your dog is a happy traveler. If she has whined and cried through previous drives, or if she suffers severe motion sickness, it’s really kinder to leave her in a well-managed kennel or with a reliable pet sitter.
2. Find an appropriate crate or carrier. It should allow plenty of airflow and should be large enough for the dog to lie down, sit, stand, and turn around comfortably. The carrier goes in the back seat and should be strapped in with a seatbelt. While it may be tempting to allow smaller breeds free run of the car, a rambunctious pet can easily wiggle between your foot and the accelerator or the break pedal. A pet running free can also jostle your arm when you are trying to steer the car.
3. Practice makes perfect. Before leaving for your vacation, take your dog for a series of short rides around town and out in the country. This will give him an opportunity to get used to being in his crate and to get used to being in a moving vehicle. If your dog does well on these shorter trips, you can plan your longer trip with more confidence. These practice journeys can also alert you to potential problems that might warrant a trip to the vet such as motion sickness.
4. Don’t let your dog ride with her head out the window. Yes, it looks like dogs in this position are having a fine time, but your dog could get irritating dust or pebbles in her eyes. More seriously, she could be thrown from the car and hurt or killed if you have to swerve or stop suddenly.
5. Avoid leaving your dog alone in a parked car. The inside of parked cars can become blazing hot, even on days when the temperature outside feels moderate. Besides, if you get out of the car to stretch your legs or get a bite to eat, your dog will probably want to join you.
6. Make sure your dog wears an ID collar. The collar should list your cell phone number along with other contact information so that you can be reached while on the road. You may also want to consider taking your dog to the vet to have him microchipped.
7. Check with any hotels where you will be staying to make sure your dog is welcome.Since dogs left alone in unfamiliar places tend to bark, be considerate of your neighbors and don’t leave your dog alone at the hotel for long periods of time. If you do leave your dog alone in the hotel room, place her in her crate or carrier and leave a note for anyone entering the room that the dog is there.
- Papers, including proof of rabies shots
- Medications in labeled bottles and prescriptions
- Grooming supplies
- One or two leashes
- Bowls for food and water
- Bottled water and dry food
- Plastic bags and a scooper
- Disinfectant to clean up any accidents
- Towels or lining for the crate
- A favorite toy or two from home
Traveling with a dog is a little like traveling with a small child. The needs of the little one take center stage. Still, if you plan ahead and follow some basic safety rules, you and your pet can have a great time traveling the country together.