The hardest part of traveling is leaving the puppy behind. Their wide, mournful eyes and sad whimpering is enough to make anyone cancel that plane ticket to Mexico and give the furball a big hug, with promises that you’ll never think of leaving them alone again. Sadly, we can’t always get what we want; it’s hard to take a dog on a trip, especially when there are planes involved. Also, getting the dog past customs is an absolute nightmare and can result in some pretty harsh penalties if they aren’t declared (remember Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s furry fiasco pre-messy divorce?). So if you want to take a trip, but also would also like to take the dog along, there’s always the option of a road trip! Don’t forget that the USA is full of long, winding roads and little towns that make for a truly unforgettable road trip. You don’t need to fly out to see something spectacular; you can see the incredible red rocks of Arizona or cruise past the cliffs and crashing waves of the Big Sur in California. And your doggo can experience it all with you from the comfort of your car!
Before you go, there are some precautions you should take note of. You don’t have the luxury of giving the dog a bath after every romp in the mud, and you’ll be pretty much cooped up in your car the whole time. So do take note of these important tips to ensure you and your pup have the best road trip ever!
Get a Medical Check-Up at the Vet
Before you take your dog on the road, take him/her down to the veterinarian for a full body check-up. You’ll obtain a health certificate detailing the vet’s checks on your dog’s ears, eyes, body temperature, and vaccines. You might have to get your dog vaccinated if he/she has never received one. Check with the vet on the necessary vaccines and get them done before they give the green light to travel. A medical certificate is important as some places might require a physical proof of your pet’s health.
Chip Your Dog
You might be uncomfortable with the idea of tagging your dog, but this is a very crucial step in case your pet goes missing on the trip. Of course, we hope that does not happen, but it’s better to be safe than sorry! After all, dogs are animals and they are bound to get excited and run around freely when given an open space to be in. Microchips provide an electronic identification with a unique number that will be scanned using a microchip scanner. This ensures that in the case of your dog going missing, you have a higher chance of tracking him/her down. The procedure may sound scary, but it will be beneficial in the long-term, and it isn’t harmful! The vet will insert a tiny chip, the size of a grain of rice, just under the skin behind the shoulder blades of the dog’s neck. It’s a lot more secure this way so you don’t spend the whole trip worrying whether Bruno will run off!
Plan an Itinerary
Planning itineraries for travel are especially important when traveling with a pup! Firstly, plan your route. Once you have an idea of the locations you’ll be hitting, you should look at pet-friendly accommodations in the area. The last thing you would want to deal with is being rejected by the only motel in the area at 11 p.m. at night! Not all restaurants, bars, and tourist attractions allow dogs in either, so either make sure you only go to dog-friendly places or arrange for a local dog-care day center.
Here is a comprehensive list of things that will keep your pup happy and comfortable on the road!
- Large bag to put all the items in
- Dog food, snacks and treats
- Two water bowls — one to be used regularly and another to leave in the car
- Your dog’s favorite toys
- A comfy blanket to keep them warm in the car
- Any necessary medication
- An identification tag with your dog’s name and your contact information (email address, phone number)
- A traveling dog bed
- Protective layers like socks or pullovers
- A leash
- Dog waste bags
You should also look into getting a pet safety belt or harness for your dog. Get one that is crash-tested and you should try it out with your dog before going on the road to make sure they are comfortable. When driving, you should always keep your dog restrained because you need to be fully concentrated on the road. If your pet is leaping up and trying to play with you on the highway, it can be extremely dangerous for you both.
Prepare Your Dog for the Long Ride
If your dog is a puppy or new to long car rides, it will be helpful for both you and the pup to take a few test drives before embarking (barking, get it) on your road trip! Bring them out on a few laps of the neighborhood, to get a feel of how they will behave while in a car. If your puppy is particularly active, take him/her out on a walk before getting into the car. This will tire them out and prevent them from jumping up and down. Try to get them to do their business before getting into the car, the last thing you want is the smell of doggy poop the whole ride!
Hydration is key, especially if you are traveling through the desert or in the summer when it will be dry and hot. We all know that dogs prefer cold water, but it also isn’t exactly easy to keep water cold when you’re in a car. You could bring along a cooler box of ice to store bottles of water and pop it into the trunk of your car. Alternatively, you could buy cold water when you make your stops at gas stations along the way. Whatever it is, do make sure your dog is kept well-hydrated, so take stops every hour or so to give the pup a drink and also a little stretch.
Traveling with your dog is a great bonding experience for both of you. Moreover, be sure to pack along some dog floaties for you and your furry friend to have a ball of a time on those trips. And of course, as long as you take all the above precautions, you’ll definitely be having a howlingly good time on the road!