With the summer around the corner, you may have the face the choice between boarding your dog at a kennel or taking him along. If you are traveling by car, bringing your dog with you may be an option. Rest assured that given the choice, if your dog enjoys car travel, he would much prefer coming with you than being left behind. The great news is that nowadays, there are more and more pet friendly hotels along the way that accept dogs. To make your car travel with Fido a breeze, you want to make sure that you bring along some essentials and that you plan your trip in advance so to prevent any major hassles along the way.
Bring Your Doggy Documents
Always Book in Advance
Take Along Doggy Essentials
Plan Frequent Stops
Keep Fido Busy
Have your Car Inspected
Determine if your Dog is a Happy Camper
Protect your Car
Safety Comes First
It’s always a good idea to bring along some dog documents with you just in case. Your dog’s medical records are always good to take with you just in case your dog would have a medical emergency. Make sure you also bring your dog’s vaccination records. Depending on where you travel, your dog’s vaccination status and a recent health certificate may be required across State lines and international borders. Make sure your dog is always wearing his updated ID tags and that you have his microchip information.
Hotels that accept pets are growing greatly in numbers, but it’s always a good practice to book your room in advance. Better be safe than sorry. While there are more and more pet friendly hotels, consider that many have restrictions on size, therefore, you don’t want to be stuck on the road with no hotels accepting your pooch just because he’s a big fellow. Also, don’t forget to check the hotel’s policies on leaving your dog alone in the room.
On travel day, it’s easy to feel rushed and overwhelmed and you risk forgetting some important essentials. Prepare a checklist of the important things that your dog needs and check them off the list as you get ready on travel date. Food, treats, toys, food bowl, a spill-proof water bowl, leash, brushes, a doggy first aid kit, your dog’s crate, bed, blanket, medications and your dog’s documents are some important doggy essentials you definitively do not want to leave behind.
It’s a good idea to have a planned itinerary so you can make frequent stops as you travel. Your dog will need to stop every few hours to relieve himself and stretch his legs. Many highways are equipped with rest areas and some of them have a relief zone just for dogs. It’s a good idea to be aware of how many of these areas are on your route. Sometimes, there may be several miles in between a rest area and another and you do not want to miss one if the next won’ be available for the next several hours of travel.
A long car drive may get boring for your dog and he may become restless. Boredom can transform into nuisance behaviors such as barking, pacing and whining. Stock on some durable chew toys or strategically stuff a Kong or some hollow bones with some goodies. This should keep your dog entertained enough for a while. It’s always a good idea walking your dog for some time or taking him for a romp in the dog park before traveling. A tired dog is a good dog.
As if breaking down during car travel isn’t annoying enough, it can be substantially problematic when you have Fido along for the ride. What if your car will need to be towed? Where are you going to keep him while they fix the car? You’re better off doing everything you can to keep your car in good working order before you leave. A thorough inspection is a must and don’t forget to have the mechanics ensure that your AC is in good working order.
If your dog has never been in a car, it may be wise to gradually get your dog used to the motion of the car before the big trip so you have an idea of what to expect. While some dogs may be nervous the first minutes of travel, most dogs after a while will just settle down and enjoy the scenery, and eventually, they will get tired and nap. If your dog is a bit nervous in the car, you can invest in calming aids such as DAP collars and sprays, calming music and calming caps. If your dog tends to get car sick, ask your vet for medications for nausea. If your dog doesn’t travel well in the car, you might have to consider other options.
A long trip in the car with Fido may cause some damage to your backseats. His long nails may scratch the surface, or he may drool or get car sick. Not to mention muddy paws, if you happen to stop in an area when it’s raining. It’s helpful to protect your car’s backseats with a well-fitting cover that you can utilize for the entire length of the trip.
It may be tempting to let Fido travel freely in the car, but doing so may be quite risky business, not just for your dog but for your human passengers as well. In the event of pulling hard on the brakes, a dog can easily become projectile which can cause serious injury and even death. Also, small dogs may wander about in the car and interfere with your ability to use the brakes. For these reasons, it’s a much safer option to keep your dog confined to a crate, use doggy seat belts or install a barrier between the front and the rear of your car. Never let your dog travel in the bed of a truck. Also, consider that allowing your dog to keep his head out of the window makes him susceptible to debris that may get in his nose, eyes and ears. And of course, never leave your dog unattended in a car in the summer no matter for how brief!