If you’re a dog enthusiast, chances are there would have been times you wanted to travel and you’d have loved to take your dog along but you didn’t or couldn’t for technical reasons.
In this post, we’ll covering some of the things you should know so you can road trip with your dog next time.
1- Prep your dog for the trip.
It is incredibly important to prepare your dog weeks before the day of the trip, this way your dog would have had plenty of time to get used to your car environment.
Side note: Invest in a dog crate.
Looking into getting a good pet carrier for your dog is absolutely quintessential in the quest for a smooth owner-dog road trip.
Your dog being a dog it is, will want to be getting all over the place and you definitely do not want this to be the case while driving, having it placed in a secure carrier is a safety measure for both you and your dog.
Start by placing the crate next to your dog’s eating spot and putting a few treats in there to lure it in. Do this few times over a couple of days to get it used to staying in the carrier.
Even at times when you’re not trying to lure it in, you could just leave the crate open and let it stay there. When you do this enough and you feel your dog is comfortable with its crate, you can then move on to the next step.
Refrain from forcing your dog into the crate and over time, your dog begin to make positive association with the crate.
Pro tip: Think about space.
No, not the one with a supernova in it but rather your dog’s crate, it needs to have enough room for your dog to lay down and turn around comfortably.
The next step in crate training your dog would be having it in your car while your dog is in its crate. Once you’ve secured your dog in its carrier, place it in your car and sit there with it.
Don’t drive anywhere, just stay there with it and use positive gestures like gently touching it to give your dog the needed reassurance it might be craving.
Do this about 2 times a day leaving at least a 4 hour interval and repeat the process until your dog is ready for the proceeding step.
If you find your dog exhibiting undesirable behaviour like barking or jumping around, don’t pet it or make eye contact, ignoring it like this will discourage negative behaviour from your dog and possibly bring it back into a more relaxed state.
The final step in prepping your dog for travelling in its crate is taking your dog for short trips, like a drive around the block and gradually increase the length of the time you spending on the road with your dog.
You may also want to consider a nausea possibility, some dogs are known to vomit quite often inside a car and if this is the case with your dog, you may want to consider a few things like:
• Getting it checked by your vet to figure why this its like that
• Asking your vet about treatments
• Turning off the AC and opening the windows
2- Plan the journey out.
For your road trip, don’t forget to plan out other aspects of your journey besides crate training your dog. Take a recent picture of your dog.
Its also advisable to look into your destination’s laws on your dog’s breed incase they don’t allow such pets there. Unlikely but you can’t be too sure.
Have your dog checked out by your veterinarian, be sure tell them about travelling with your dog and collect all of the dog’s medical records, vaccinations documents and any prescribed prescription in the event that they are requested en route.
They can also be helpful if your dog has any medical issues in your destination, the veterinarian there can easily get updated about your dog’s medical history.
As for food, feed your dog as you do regularly and then shift its duration by 20 minutes such that your dog’s feeding schedule would synchronize with when you take breaks on the drive.
Side note: Groom your dog.
Its always a good idea to get your dog groomed some days before hitting the road, this way when its in the car, you won’t worry about excess body discomfort or its nails getting injured.
Another thing to have ready is a collar for your dog, try getting some of your contact information like a phone number on a travel tag and attaching that to your dog’s collar in the event that your dog got separated from you.
Pro tip: Research pet friendly lodgings.
You should also consider searching and booking a pet friendly hotel if you know you’ll be in for a drive over 24 hours. Some online resources for these include:
Don’t forget to pack some of your dog’s favourite toys for when it starts feeling bored or stressed over the course of the trip.
Also pack sufficient amounts of their favourite treats that they’re already used to, feeding them something else en route may cause them to puke, take ample amounts of any required medication if your dog has any medical conditions.
3- Anticipating the drive.
So its finally time for Marley and you to hit the road, before leaving you’ll want to make sure you’ve got established a few things.
Besides food, don’t forgot to store sufficient amounts of water from your home because your dog might just be sensitive to water in other areas.
When putting the dog in the crate, remove the collar so that it doesn’t get stuck with the crate, don’t forget to set up the litter tray for your dog too.
Feed your dog a light meal 3-4 hours before embarking on the drive as driving with a dog on full stomach might mean unnecessary vomiting on your dog’s part. But you can let it have water from time to time in moderation.
Side note: Secure your dog’s crate.
Whether its strapping on a seat belt or tying it to the back seat, make sure your dog’s crate is properly secured in your car even with your dog inside the crate, lest you get a case of a flying cat.
Pro tip: Make periodic stops.
Be sure to take breaks every hour or two for you and your dog to relax a bit before you continue, try to find somewhere like a park to park and stretch your dog’s legs by making use of a harness and leash.
If you ever need to use the toilet somewhere en route, lock your car doors and leave the windows open a bit for fresh air to come in and be quick about it.
Under no circumstances should you leave your dog alone in a your car. If the weather is hot, it could affect and sometimes even kill a dog and if the weather’s too cold your dog could freeze to death.
You may also want to note that when it comes to road trips, young dogs and puppies are generally more prone to car sickness than the more grown up ones since they’re not as developed.
4- Reward good behavior.
When crate training your dog and it behaves well, give it some treats and perhaps pet it a little to reaffirm your approval of such good behavior, the same goes for any other desirable actions on your dog’s part.
Side note: Don’t rush things.
Going about your schedule with unnecessary pressure or irritation might cloud your judgement on what the best approach is for getting ready for your trip.
Although you really might not have much time to spare, try to be conscious about not taking out on the dog.
Be sure to relax and be in touch with your own emotions, things like anxiety can be sometimes picked up by your dog and it might feed off of that.
Pro tip: Get creative about de-stress.
There are a few little known ways of helping your dog de-stress, it may not work for every dog but you can try looking into things like:
• Trying out some classical music
• Investing in aromatherapy for your dog
• Experimenting with doga or dogya, apparently a kind of yoga for dogs.
If you’re surprised dogya is an actual thing, you’ll be glad to know I was too, the world is advancing and fast.
If you happen to be travelling with a cat or a dog and cat then be sure to also check out my post on travelling with cats.
Road trips with dogs isn’t such a bad thing with adequate preparations made, it’ll also be a new experience for them. Keep calm and enjoy your travels.