Travelling with your dog can seem like a daunting task so we've put together a list of the top 11 things you need to know about preparing for an adventure with your pooch and avoiding any travel disasters.
1. Take lots of breaks.
Just like us, pets get restless in the car so be sure to stop and let them stretch their legs out, have a bathroom break and a quick walk.
Sometimes this can be tricky on long road trips, but do your best to find a nice grassy area for them to sniff around before you strap them back in to the vehicle.
Keep in mind that when travelling, you may not always have the nicest weather conditions or cleanest areas to let your dog out, and since no one likes wet dog smell on a long trip, consider bringing some 'keep the dog clean' gear like a weatherproof Belly Bib and Leggings.
2. Water is essential!
Keep your dog hydrated. The best policy is always BYOWB (Bring Your Own Water and Bowl).
There’s tons of great pop up doggie water bowls on the market (we like this eco-friendly one from Animals Are Happy), or if you don’t want to buy one, just grab a regular water bowl from home that can be used for your dog on the journey.
Bringing your own water is important because drinking from public water sources can result in an adverse reaction in your pup, which definitely won’t add to the road trip experience.
3. Stay on schedule.
Don’t forget the feeding schedule and never eat on the go! It’s important to keep your routine with your dog when travelling.
Make sure to keep them on their regular feeding schedule, and ensure you pull over and let them enjoy their meal motionless before continuing the journey.
Never feed them while the vehicle is moving, even on a long road trip – they can get car sick too. It’s best not to feed them right before you leave either; give them some time to digest their food first.
4. Bring something familiar.
Being away from home can be stressful for your dog so it’s always a nice idea to bring a few items with you that feel familiar to them.
Things like their favourite toy, blanket, or the favourite pillow that you swear is yours, yet somehow has been claimed by them over the years.
Whatever it is, this will help make their trip just as comfortable as yours.
5. Stay inside the moving vehicle!
We’ve all seen it; the adorable sight of the wind blowing in their hair, their tongues flapping all around, the drool-filled smile on their face.
I get it, it’s cute, but it’s also very dangerous.
Letting your dog ride with their head out the window can result in some awful accidents due to flying objects, stationary objects, and their unsecured position in the vehicle (they could easily fall out of the window should you have to slam on the brakes – I’ve heard it happen before, luckily the pooch was fine).
6. Get a harness!
The safest position for your dog in the vehicle is sitting on the seat, using a special travel harness that secures them to the seat.
Anything can happen on the road in a split second and you need to be prepared.
Let’s put it in perspective: you wouldn’t let your child ride without a seatbelt, so please don’t let your dog either.
Some people suggest crating them, but I personally don’t find that is a solution, or very nice for your dog.
This harness from Ruffwear is a great solution because it lets your dog move pretty freely/comfortably, while still keeping them safe and secured.
7. Don’t park and stay.
Leaving your pet in a vehicle alone can be very dangerous, especially on a hot day. You may think leaving your window open is enough to keep them cool, but your vehicle can turn in to a sauna in no time.
If you have to leave the car, make sure there is someone that can accompany your dog outside if you’re not allowed to bring them in with you.
Again, you wouldn’t do it to your kids, so don’t do it to your dogs.
8. Take trial runs.
Of course, a new environment can be stressful for your animal, so be sure to take them on a series of smaller road trips before gearing up for the big outing.
This will allow them to get used to the vehicle and motions so you can avoid your dog suffering from anxiety during what is supposed to be a fun time!
9. Bring their papers.
While some cross-border trips won’t require this, it’s always better to be over prepared.
Make sure to bring your pooch’s medical records, such as rabies vaccinations and any other paperwork they have regarding their health.
This way if you’re questioned, you can quickly and easily provide proof that your dog isn’t bringing any harmful bugs with them. As a responsible pet owner, I’m sure this is no problem!
If you’re having trouble finding your paperwork, just phone your vet and they can help guide you through the process and provide you with all the necessary information.
10. Know the law.
Various states/provinces have laws geared towards safe travel with your pet, such as, whether or not they need to be in a carrier (as much as I don’t believe you should crate your dog, sometimes you don’t have a choice).
Regardless of my opinions, it is something a pet owner on the move needs to be aware of, and should always research before departure to avoid any unwanted travel disasters.
11. Have fun!
Any good pet owner will understand this one, but remember to have fun and know that your pet needs you.
Travelling with a pet is much like travelling with a small child (as mentioned many times in this article) and it’s important to remember they can’t effectively take care of themselves or communicate their needs.
Check in regularly and do your best to be attentive, but not distracted!