Taking Dogs On Road Trips

Taking Dogs On Road Trips

We bring our dogs with us on many of our road trips. While it admittedly adds a layer of complexity, it’s fun to have the whole family along. If you’re thinking of bringing your canine companion on your next trip, here are the takeaways from our experiences.

First off, it’s important that this will be an enjoyable experience for your dog. If he gets carsick or has anxiety about new places or has a medical condition, you’ll want to talk to your vet before going any further. They can help you determine options for medication or alternate solutions.

If you’re not sure how your dog will handle a long car ride or any other aspect of the trip, start with short visits to places like local dog-friendly parks or events. Take it slow and see how it goes before gradually increasing the distance and duration of your outings.

Of course this assumes that your dog has some basic obedience training under her belt. Before you head anywhere, you should be comfortable that she can safely handle being around new dogs and people (including children), walk reasonably on a leash, and know some key commands like “sit” and “come”. If you’re at all unsure, consult with a reputable dog trainer in your area.

dog looking out of truck window

Once that’s all out of the way, you can finally start planning. Some things to consider:

  • Schedule plenty of breaks into the drive. Look ahead of time for rest stops, local parks, or other spaces your dog can stretch his legs, go to bathroom, get a drink, etc.
  • Plan for your meals – both while traveling and at your destination. Packing a picnic is a great solution for the drive, and depending on your accommodations, you may be able to make some or all of your own meals during your stay. If you will be relying on restaurants, check out a resource like Bring Fido to see local options. Take the time to make a quick call and double check each restaurant’s pet policy.
  • Book your lodging in advance. Whether you choose a campground, budget hotel, full home rental, or one of many other pet friendly options, plan ahead to avoid any drama. We love using Airbnb as we can look for places that have a fenced yard or other perks for pets. Wherever you stay, make sure you familiarize yourself with all of the pet policies and plan accordingly. For example many hotels and rentals don’t allow pets to be left unattended or require them to be crated when you’re not there.
  • Pick activities your dog can participate in. From hiking to sailing excursions to shopping, most destinations have options for a variety of interests and activity levels. BringFido is a great place to start looking, but the local Visitors Bureau can also be helpful.
  • Pack all the necessities. It can be hard to think of everything your dog might need during your travels. To help, we’ve put together a downloadable version of the packing checklist we use.
dog road trip packing checklist

Happy travels!

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