The iconic image of a road trip with a dog brings to mind a drooling Basset Hound with its head waving out the window and the wind whipping at its face. What the image doesn’t show, is the whining dog in the backseat, or the dogs breakfast that found its way onto the back of your car’s leather seat.
Though everyone’s experience traveling with their dog is different, it generally takes both knowledge and consistent training to have your everyday companion become a traveling companion.
Plan where they’ll sit
Dogs shouldn’t be in the front seat of the car due to safety risks to the driver and their well being from the airbag and potential of hitting the windshield during a sudden stop. Instead, plan to put them in a crate in the backseat, a dog car seat, or tie their leash so they can move but won’t interfere with your driving or their safety.
If this is your dog’s first road trip, or if they have a history of getting car sick, talk with your vet to see if there is a calming aid like Dramamine that can help ease motion sickness. Plan to put towels on the seats or floors for easy clean-up if your dog does get sick, and make sure your dog has space and fresh air at all times. Additionally, regardless of if your dog gets motion sick, giving your dog plenty of water during the trip will ensure they feel their best.
Stopping every two to three hours will ensure both you and your pet get the exercise and fresh air that’s optimal for a seamless car trip.
Never leave your dog alone in the car, as the heat can cause heat stroke or death, as well as leaving your dog unattended can increase the risk of pet theft. Also, as enjoyable as your dog might find the wind on their face, if your going at normal to high speeds the high intensity of the wind can harm your dog’s ears or eyes. Finally, as mentioned before, regardless of how much your pet loves being next to you in the front seat, it is imperative for their safety you keep them in a safe place in the back.
Practice, practice, practice
Taking a puppy on a ten-hour car trip is sure to end in disaster, but practicing with smaller trips will familiarize your dog with the motion and confines of a vehicle without overwhelming them at once.
Car trips can be a fun and memorable experience for many families, and when your dog learns to enjoy the trip too, the whole family can relax and focus on being together rather than the continuous nervous barking or drooling of your dog.
How do you make road trips with your dog both stress free and safe?