Right now, the idea of a road trip sounds AH-MA-ZING! The freedom to just jump in the car and go for a drive to…well, anywhere! There’s nothing like rolling down the windows and popping your head out to feel the breeze, fur blown back, and new smells rush into your nose until you can’t take it anymore and have to snort! OH, and feeling the sunshine, warming your face. It’s all just the best feeling ever. There’s nothing like a ride in the car, amirite?
Hi there, Finley here, Cascade Kennels’ Executive Canine Quality Control Officer. Just so you humans know, we dogs (mostly) LOVE trips in the car. We’re game for a long road trip or gosh, even a drive just to the mailbox. Count us in. There are a few things, though, that would make the journey more fun for us and easier for you. Let me explain.
Before the trip
If your dog isn’t used to riding in the car, it’s probably a good idea to do some short practice drives with them so that they can become more comfortable before the big day. Driving to a pet store or park would be good; someplace that is fun, interesting, and bring some treats along too to reward good behavior. Sometimes dogs only ride in the car to visit the veterinarian, and that alone may be part of a dog’s fear of riding in the car.
If you still aren’t sure if your dog will do well in the car during a road trip, give your vet a call. They may suggest anti-nausea or anti-stress medications that can help.
Time for a confession…even though we love exploring the car and sticking our heads out any open window, the safest way for a dog to travel in the vehicle is in a crate, behind a cargo barrier, or in an approved vehicle safety harness. Those are basically seat belts for dogs. By making sure we are safely riding, we aren’t as distracting to the driver, and it reduces our chances of injuring ourselves or our humans in case there is an accident along the way.
Once you know that your dog is all set to ride safely, it’s time to plan the awesome stops for our breaks. About every 3-4 hours, we like to stretch our legs and get some fresh air, just like you do. A nice dog-friendly park or rest stop should do the trick, but don’t forget to bring a supply of those cute waste bags to help clean up after us. In many areas, it is against the law to leave it, so it’s best to be prepared.
If your dog is well socialized, finding a designated dog park is a great idea. There are several websites like Go Pet Friendly, that can help you locate them along your route.
Another thing we love is dog-friendly restaurants with outdoor patios, so check into those too! It is never o.k. to leave your dog in the car, even for a quick bite to eat. It gets hot way faster than most humans think, and plus, we get lonely and sometimes scared when you leave. I know a German Shepard that got nervous and scratched up the inside of his humans’ Volvo when they went into a store. He said they made scary faces and shouted really loud when they came back.
When It’s Time to Pack
Don’t forget to pack items for your dog, too, and be sure that they are wearing a dog collar with an ID tag with their name and your phone number and rabies vaccination tag just in case you get separated. You might not need everything on the rest of the list, but you never know on the open road, and you’ll be glad you thought ahead.
- Brush to keep nervous shedding under control
- Food and water and bowls for serving
- Treats and chew toys
- Leash and harness (if used)
- Any needed medications and shot records
- Poop bags
- Pet sunscreen and insect repellent
- Protective clothes for the elements such as booties, lifejacket or rain gear
- Comfy bedding
- Old towel for drying off
- Favorite toy or ball
When it is road trip day, make sure we have a chance to go before we go. Try to plan feeding time to a couple of hours before the trip starts and then allow time for a walk. Your dog will be good to go and ready to rest for the first part of the drive.
Try to stay flexible when you travel with your dog, take pictures along the way, and enjoy your time together. Just know they are glad to be along for the ride with you too.
Finley | Executive Canine Quality Control Officer