The thought of bringing your dog on vacation with you is exciting. It also relieves owners of the worries that often come with going on a trip without their beloved canines. So if you’ve made up your mind on taking your beloved canine out on a trip, great! The first step you need to do is to do your research on dog travel. Planes or cars aren’t part of your dog’s everyday routine, so you’ll have to do a lot of preparation on your end.
There are a lot of pet-friendly airlines out there, but generally speaking, driving with dogs is a lot easier than flying with them. Most dogs make the best travel companions. Take Aspen, the Insta-famous golden retriever, as an example, this eager boy has been living the van life with his human owner for years now.
So to make your next road trips fun and safe, here are some helpful preparation tips before driving with dogs on board.
Driving with Dogs: Everything You Need to Prepare
Before hitting the road
Before you go on your trip, it is important to prepare everything you will need to keep your dog happy and healthy. Once you’ve received an approval from your dog’s vet, start packing the following:
Collar and ID tag
Your dog needs identification for obvious reasons. Worst case scenario is that they’ll run off during your trip and without any form of ID, you’ll have little chance of recovering them. Another helpful way is to attach a GPS tracker or a microchip.
Blankets and waste disposal bags
Blankets can be used for bedding and warmth in case the temperature drops. Line the dog’s area in the car with blankets or place a makeshift doggy bed in the corner so he can rest comfortably throughout the journey. As a form of courtesy, waste disposal bags are useful for when stopping for breaks.
Food, water, and bowls
Bring with you the dog’s usual food, as a sudden change in diet could cause an upset stomach. Bring along your own water supply too and of course, dog bowls.
Miscellaneous (old washcloths, emergency kits, and toys)
You don’t want your dog to remain anxious throughout the trip. You can keep them calm and relaxed by making sure they’re always clean and comfortable.
A guide to crates and restraints
Even if you’re lucky enough to have a dog that enjoys road trips, it is still dangerous to have them roam freely inside the car. In fact, some states reserve the right to fine drivers when an animal causes them to lose full control of the vehicle. To prevent any dangerous accidents when traveling with dogs, restrain your pet by securing them in a crate.
There are a wide variety of crates you can purchase in the market. Crates are usually secured in the back seat using the seat belt straps. When it comes to choosing the right crate for your dog, the first thing to consider is size. It should be large enough to allow them to move around. Other factors to keep in mind are ventilation and quality.
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Crate Training Tips
- Introduce the crate casually. Imagine being locked up against your will all of a sudden. It’s an unpleasant thought, right? Well, your dog thinks so too. So when it comes to introducing the crate, you need to treat it like a new piece of furniture. Add a blanket or toy and keep the door open. Once you back off, let the dog explore it. This may take some time, but a little patience goes a long way.
- Serve meals inside the crate. Now that your dog enters the crate with ease, the next thing you want to achieve is to make them comfortable inside it. Start by placing their food bowl near the entrance and slowly pushing it back. This lets the dog develop a positive association with the crate.
- Close the crate. After your pet starts eating his meals inside the crate, try closing it for the door and opening it immediately. Start leaving him longer and longer with each meal.
- Develop “alone time” inside the crate. If your dog hangs out in a closed crate without showing any signs of stress, start lengthening their stay. Accompany your dog by the crate for around 30 minutes, then move into a different room for a few minutes until they get used to the idea of staying in the crate by themselves.
Another alternative to crates is harnesses or barriers. Dog harnesses can be fastened to your vehicle’s seat belt, providing the dog freedom to roam around and keeping them safe in the event that an unwanted accident happens. On the other hand, barriers are great for securing the dog if you own an SUV or wagon. You’ll need to be certain that the barrier can be secured to your vehicle and if it is capable of restraining the weight of your dog in case of abrupt stops or accidents.
Dos and Don’ts of Driving with Dogs
- Never let the dog stick his head out the window. It’s the quintessential image you have when driving with dogs: their head sticks out the window to enjoy the fresh breeze, with their tongue wagging and ears flopping about. While it is an adorable sight, it is extremely dangerous. There are countless stories of dogs getting side-swiped by other vehicles on the road, or worse, they could fall off the car.
- Do check if they’re feeling hot or cold. From time to time, make it a point to check if there is enough air circulation in the vehicle.
- Keep the stereo blasting in front of the car so you don’t damage the dog’s sensitive ears. Dogs are more sensitive to sound than human beings, so the music you’re blasting on the stereo may not be so pleasant to their ears. Adjust the stereo so that the sound is primarily in the front speakers.
- Take breaks. Hey, everyone needs a break! Soak in the view, let your dog do his business, and take lots of photos together.
Finally, have lots of fun! Proper equipment and planning should make driving with dogs on the road an enjoyable and hassle-free experience.