If you are lucky enough to have a dog that loves to travel you can bring your furry friend with you on the road. But dogs are creatures of habit and even the best travel companions may struggle to feel comfortable when they are a long way from home. Our pup has traveled with us through 8+ states and happily endures long hours of driving if need be. Here are some tips on how we do it.
Train them for travel
From a young age, we trained our dog to love the outdoors. Starting with short day trips we taught her leash etiquette and took her with us with her on short hikes. Now, running the trails is her favorite activity.
Dogs can understand basic words and language so we’ve trained her to have a strong association between the word “mountains” and long car rides. By simply telling her we are going to the mountains she knows that even though the destination might be far away, the great outdoors are waiting for her on the other end. Even if our trip doesn’t necessarily take us into a mountainous region, using “mountains” as a command word helps her understand what’s coming.
Set up their space
We have traveled with our dog in everything from a compact sports car to a giant RV. No matter how big or small the space is, make sure your dog knows what space is theirs. Lay down their favorite blanket or bed in a part of your vehicle. Keep their food and water nearby and give them their favorite chew toy to keep them occupied. The more comforts they have the less anxious they will be. Most of the time our dog falls right asleep once her space is set up and she feels comfortable in it.
Get to know their language
One of the toughest parts of traveling is learning to speak your dogs language. At home, dogs give you obvious hints about their needs. Sitting by, or barking at the door is a good clue they need to go outside. But what if you’re in the car? Knowing the difference between a bathroom whine and a “i’m bored” whine can be difficult. Anticipate their needs and stop as often as you can to stretch their legs and let them relieve themselves.
Prepare for emergencies
Pack a first aid kit, any applicable pet medicines and an emergency food supply. Although you never want to have to use your emergency supplies it’s best to be prepared.
We first discovered symptoms of our dog’s EPI disorder while on the road. Luckily we had a vet with telehealth options to help us navigate through. For this reason we highly recommend a vet membership plan or pet insurance if you plan to travel regularly with your dog.
Pro Tip: White rice is a great food staple for both dogs and humans who encounter minor stomach bugs on the road & Benadryl is safe for both dogs and humans who experience allergies or motion sickness while traveling*. We never leave on a road trip without these 2 items!
* Always check with your vet for proper dosage before administering any medications to your pet.
Plan for pet friendly activities
Last but not least, be sure to plan ahead for your trip. We love going to National Parks with our dog but always temper our expectations for what trails or sites may be open and accessible to her. If you are looking for a more strenuous hike with your dog it’s best to stay outside of the National Park system. Check out All Trails for great recommendations. We also like to consult BringFido while trip planning to discover pet friendly activities in the places we visit .
We hope these resources are useful so that you can have a pawsitive experience on the road!