Traveling with your dog can be a really fun and rewarding experience. Whether you're planning a weekend getaway off the grid, or embarking on a long-distance wild roaming adventure to a faraway place, bringing your dog along requires careful preparation and consideration. To ensure a safe and enjoyable journey for both you and your dog, here are 10 important tips to consider before hitting the road:
1. RESEARCH PET-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATIONS
If you plan to stay overnight somewhere like a hotel, Airbnb, or an organized campsite, it's crucial to research and book pet-friendly accommodations. Not all hotels, rentals, or campsites allow pets, so make sure to call ahead and confirm their policies. Look for places that provide dog amenities, such as designated walking areas, trails, or nearby parks, to ensure your dog's comfort, excercise, and enjoyment during the stay. Not all dog amenities are created equal so be sure to do your research.
2. PREPARE IDENTIFICATION AND VACCINATION RECORDS
Always make sure that your dog is wearing a secure collar with identification tags displaying your contact information. This is important to do whether traveling or at home. Additionally, always carry a copy of your dog's vaccination records, as some accommodations and transportation options may require proof of vaccinations. This will also be important in the event of an emergency vet visit while on the road.
3. PACK ESSENTIAL SUPPLIES
Bring along your dog's essential supplies, including food, water, treats, chews, leash, waste bags, medication (if applicable), and familiar items like toys or bedding. Maintaining as much of your dog's “normal” routine and comfort during travel will help minimize stress and make them feel at ease in unfamiliar surroundings. Before leaving, make a list of what the essential supplies are for your dog so that you don’t leave home without them.
4. VISIT WITH THE VETERINARIAN
Schedule a visit, or at a minimum, make a phone call to your veterinarian before your trip to ensure your dog is healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations. Discuss any specific concerns related to travel, such as motion sickness or anxiety, and obtain any necessary medications or preventive treatments, like flea and tick control. The veterinarian may also suggest other things that you should be aware of and prepare for that you didn’t think of yourself.
5. PLAN FOR REGULAR EXERCISE BREAKS
Regular exercise breaks are a must when traveling with a dog. Dogs require regular exercise to stay happy and healthy, so plan accordingly before heading out so you aren’t scrambling to figure it out on the road. Planning for regular breaks during your journey will allow your dog to stretch their legs, relieve themselves, and get some exercise and play time. Research dog-friendly parks, trailheads, lakes, or rest areas along your route to make these stops enjoyable for both of you. It is also a good idea, if possible, to tire out your dog before heading out on your road trip so that your dog will be more likely to rest for the first part of the trip.
6. PRACTICE VEHICLE SAFETY
Ensure your dog's safety in the vehicle by using a proper restraint system, such as a secured crate, a dog seatbelt harness, or a barrier. This prevents your dog from becoming a distraction to the driver and other occupants and protects them, and you, in case of an accident. Never leave your dog alone in a parked vehicle, as temperatures can rise quickly, leading to heatstroke.
7. GRADUALLY INTRODUCE YOUR DOG TO TRAVEL
If your dog is not accustomed to traveling, especially while secured as discussed in point 6, gradually introduce them to short car rides or day trips before embarking on a long journey. This helps them become familiar with the experience and reduces anxiety. Reward your dog with praise, high-quality treats, and positive reinforcement during these practice trips.
8. RESEARCH DOG-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES AND ATTRACTIONS
Research dog-friendly activities and attractions well in advance of arriving at your destination. Some parks, trails, beaches, lakes, and outdoor attractions allow dogs, while others do not. Try to research what local adventure dog owners are saying about the area so you can maximize your activities with your dog and spend time in awesome and fun places. Engaging in these activities together will not only enrich your travel experience but also provide mental and physical stimulation for you and your dog.
9. PRIORITIZE HYDRATION AND FEEDING
It is very important that your dog stays hydrated during travel by offering water regularly, especially on hot days. Prepare by having water available in your vehicle so you are not relying on rest stops or parks to have running water. Stick to your dog's regular feeding schedule and avoid feeding them large meals right before or during car rides to minimize the risk of motion sickness.
10. BE MINDFUL AND INTENTIONAL IN MEETING YOUR DOG'S NEEDS
Obviously, dogs can't talk, so it's important to pay close attention to your dog's behavior and well-being throughout your trip. Some dogs may experience travel anxiety, so provide a calm, comfortable and reassuring environment. If your dog is going to be exposed to large windows in the back of a vehicle, be sure to purchase window sun shades to help keep your dog cool and out of the sun. Create a familiar space for your dog at your overnight accommodations, maintain their regular routines as much as possible, and offer plenty of outdoor activity, attention, and positive reinforcement.
Remember, every dog is unique, and their travel needs may vary. Take the time to understand your dog's personality, preferences, and any specific health considerations related to travel. By doing so, you can tailor your travel plans to accommodate their individual needs and ensure a successful trip.
With the right preparation and a little extra care, you can create lasting memories as you explore new destinations together. Traveling with your dog can strengthen the bond between you and provide enriching experiences for both of you. So pack your bags, buckle up, and embark on some wild roaming road trip adventures together!