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  • Writer's pictureHannah Cossa

How to Prepare for a Dog-Friendly RoadTrip

Updated: Jan 15, 2023

Dog-Friendly Tips to keep your dog safe on your next road trip.

open road, mountain
Mt. Shasta - ©Hannah Davis

Taking your dog on a road trip can be rewarding and fun but also a little stressful. Ensuring the safety of yourself, as well as your dog, requires extra planning and preparation. Before you take a long-distance road trip with your pooch for the first time, you will want to be sure that they are comfortable with your vehicle. To help ease your dog into traveling, start with small outings around your town then gradually progress to longer distances. Once you know your dog is happy to travel, use these 5 tips & tricks to ease your stress, limit your anxiety, and ensure your pup is well taken care of on the road!

Tip #1 - Release the Energy

If you are like most road travelers, you will be leaving for your road trip in the morning. This means, that like yourself, your pup has been sleeping for the last 8 hours and now has pent-up energy. To ensure that your dog can remain calm while you focus on driving, release some of that pent-up energy with a walk, run, or a quick stop at the park prior to heading out.

Tip #2 - Buckle Up

Like humans, dogs should be secured in the vehicle when moving. If your dog is too large to travel in a crate, secure your dog in the back seat with a dog seat belt. Do not leave your dog loose in a truck bed or tie your dog in a truck bed. A dog seat belt keeps your dog safe and secure while you're driving, reduces distracted driving, and prevents them from getting hurt if an accident or sudden stop occurs.

Tip #3 - Just Like Home

To help your pup feel relaxed and reduce any travel anxiety they may feel, make their space in the vehicle feel more like home! Consider bringing a few favorite toys, their bed, pillow, or blanket, and always be sure they have access to water. Be sure to pack enough of your dog's food with you to cover the days you will be traveling. This will ensure that you do not run out and have to feed your dog a new brand (which can cause an upset stomach etc) or go out in search of food while on the road.

Tip #4 - Puppy Pit Stop

When planning your route, take note of rest stops, truck stops, and pet stores along the way. You will want to stop more frequently for potty breaks. Knowing where to stop ahead of time will ensure you have a safe place to relieve your dog and yourself. Most rest stops have grassy pet areas where you can walk your dog to give them relief. There are even some truck stops with dog parks! (Check out Loves Truck Stops) Lastly, if you are in a pinch, pet stores allow dogs inside and typically have dog-friendly restrooms for customers.

Tip #4 - Documentation & Microchips

Prior to your departure, be sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations. Carry a copy of your dog's health records and vaccination history in case you need veterinary assistance during your trip. Place an ID tag on your dog's collar for easy identification. If your dog is not microchipped, check with your local vet or animal clinic for microchipping services. Microchips are the only permanent identification form that can reunite you with your dog should they get lost or stolen.

For more on microchipping, check out HomeAgain

In conclusion, proper planning prior to traveling long distances with your dog will reduce not only your stress but theirs as well. For more information about dog-friendly travel, check out my interview on The Solo Female Traveler Podcast below.

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