So you are going on your first road trip with your pup?
We know you’re all giddy and excited about getting to spend quality time with your best friend! Who wouldn’t be? Traveling with your dog can be a fun and memorable experience… If you take the necessary steps to prepare for it.
Read on to find out how to prepare for your dog’s first road trip.
First things first: Is Your Dog ready to Hit the Road?
You might be all set for your road trip, but what about your dog?
If your dog is already cool riding in the car with you, that’s great. The battle is won. But if Fido isn’t ready to travel yet, you need to help familiarize him with car rides. Take things slowly on this one! The last thing you need on your road trip is a dog that’s terrified of traveling.
Here are a few tips to get your dog ready and steady:
— In the time leading up to your road trip, let your dog sit in a parked car for a few minutes at a time.
— Once your dog gets the hang of being inside a car, start the engine and stay inside for a few minutes.
— If your dog shows no signs of anxiety, move up and down your driveway. Take a short drive around the block if all goes well.
— Don’t forget to reward your dog with praise or treats!
— Make a few practice drives in and around your neighborhood.
— Plan a short trip to a nearby park or beach. Your dog will learn to associate car rides with playtime at fun places.
Time for Your Checkup!
Now that your dog is roadworthy, it’s time for a visit to the doctor. Taking your dog to the veterinarian before you travel is crucial, especially when going with puppies or seniors. The vet will check if your dog is healthy enough to make the trip and ensure that all Fido’s vaccines are current.
While you’re at the vet, get your dog microchipped as an extra layer of security in case she gets lost. Ask for preventive measures such as anti-tick, flea and heartworm medications if you’re going camping in the woods. If your dog suffers from motion sickness, ask the vet for treatment options.
Now that your dog is healthy and ready to travel, it’s time to pack your bags. Dogs are notoriously poor packers, so you need to pick up the slack and pack a bag for your pooch! Preparing Fido’s bag is a little different from yours.
Here’s a list of what to bring for your dog:
— Dog food
— Favorite chew toys
— Ideal bed, pillow, and blanket
— Collar and dog tag
— First aid kit
— Collapsible bowls for food and water
— Poop bags
— Recent photo of your dog in case he gets lost
— Protective clothing (socks, vest) in case the weather gets bad
Your dog will be in an unfamiliar place, so it’s necessary to bring his favorite toys, bed, and blankets to make him feel at home. A first aid kit for dogs is essential, especially if you guys are roughing it. Remember: What you need to bring will entirely depend on where you are headed. For instance, towels and even a doggy life jacket may be necessary if you are traveling to a lake or to the beach
Also, If your dog is a runner, I cannot recommend an LED dog collar enough. Nothing is worse than the thought of losing your dog while on vacation. The bright lights on these collars will allow you to easily locate your dog – some can even be seen up to half a mile away at night.
What’s in a first aid kit for dogs?
It’s better to pack a separate first aid kit for your dog. The usual contents of an emergency kit are:
— Skin stapler
— Sterile pads
— Mild soap
— Vet wraps
— Thermal blanket
— List of all veterinarians in the area
Planning Your Route
Once you decide on where to go, the next step is to map the route and plan your stops. You should expect to stop for a potty break every 2 – 3 hours. Take into consideration your four-legged passenger. Puppies and older dogs need to make stops more often.
Dogs love consistency, so use these breaks to hydrate and feed Rover if it’s feeding time. Just don’t go overboard with the food to avoid accidents inside the car! Use these regular pit stops to walk and play with your dog, so he can use up any excess energy and be more relaxed in the car.
You should aim for a route that has plenty of rest stops big enough for your dog to walk around and play in. If the designated stop is next to a park or wide-open field, the better.
Booking a Destination
It’s imperative that you call your desired destination first before heading out. Not all hotels and establishments are pet-friendly, so calling ahead will help avoid any issues. If you’re going camping, call the park and book a slot in advance.
Most parks have a limit on how many campers and pets they allow. Take this time to acquaint yourself on any rules the park or hotel has about bringing pets.
Prepping Your Car
Your dog isn’t the only one that needs prepping. You should equip your car with all the necessary tools to make your dog safe and comfy during the trip.
Consider getting the following:
— Seat belt harness
— Dog hammock
— A barrier for the back seat
— Dog car seat
— A dog crate or carrier
You should also set some ground rules when your dog is inside the car.
Make sure that your dog:
— Never bothers you during your driving, so no riding shotgun.
— Doesn’t stick her head out of the window.
— Is tethered via a seat belt harness.
— Has a secure space at the back, like a dog crate, hammock or car seat.
— Has his favorite toys, bed or blanket to help ease the stress of travel.
Before You Go
Dogs seem to have boundless energy, which can cause restlessness during a road trip. If your dog is like the Energizer bunny, take him for a walk or get some playtime in. Activities such as fetch, tug of war and soccer can help your dog use up some of his excess energy.
With all the extra energy zapped out, your dog is more likely to relax and chill during your trip. Fluffy may even fall asleep! You also shouldn’t feed your dog a lot before leaving. Try to limit food intake, and don’t feed your dog an hour before the trip.
Time to Hit the Road
So, what are you waiting for? Now that you know how to prepare for your dog’s first road trip, it’s time to put words into action and get to it! By following all the tips and tricks in this article, you’re making sure that only good times with your lie ahead. Oh, and never leave your dog alone in the car – the temperature can soar in minutes!