Dogs make great traveling companions. But there are certain challenges that come with taking your canine with you on a road trip. Here are 10 tips to make your next long-distance drive safe and fun for both of you.
1. Bring ID. Never leave home with out it. If he doesn't have an ID tag, get him one. You don't want your dog wandering off at a rest stop never to be heard from again. Unfortunately, this occurs more often than you might imagine. In addition to an external tag, be sure to have your dog microchipped—and carry the company's information with you.
2. Ease motion sickness. It happens to humans. And to dogs. Motion sick dogs are quiet and drool profusely leading up to an episode. But most dogs can become desensitized to the motion of the car over time. To help things along, be sure your dog is fed at least three hours before you set off, and consider using anti-motion sickness medication (see your vet). One more thing: Bring a roll of paper towels.
3. Calm hyperactivity. Many dogs love going for a drive. Some so much so that they make driving unsafe for the other occupants. The solution is to use a harness with a special safety strap attached to the seat belt. You may also crate your dog in the car or administer one of a number of safe medications that will calm your dog down for the road.
4. Focus on the road. Safe driving requires that you focus on the road, not on your dog. Never allow him to go near the driver side floor where the brake and gas pedals are located. A seat restraint or a gate-type barrier between the front and the back seats is a good idea to prevent an unexpected visit from your traveling companion.
5. Consider a crate. Many dogs actually feel happier and more comfortable travelling in a crate. However, if you do use one, be sure he's used to it before departure.
6. Plan ahead. If you're staying overnight, make sure your dog will be welcome. And don't forget to bring along a food and water dishes, dog food, and plenty of disposable baggies. It's a smart idea to bring along a list of vet clinics in the various areas you'll be visiting in case of any emergencies.
7. Take rests. Take appropriate breaks on your travels. Both you and your dog will need to stretch your legs and relieve yourselves.
8. Bring food & water. No restaurant food for your dog. Take along his favorite food, plenty of fresh water as well as something for him to eat out of.
9. Don't leave him in the vehicle. Heat stroke can kill. A parked car can heat up to a life-threatening temperature very quickly. Or cool down fast in winter. If you must leave him unattended in the car for longer than a couple of minutes, check on him periodically to make sure he's fine. And be sure to leave the windows open a few inches for ventilation.
10. Don't forget the toys. Between his treats, toys and the occasional snooze, your dog can become the ideal passenger on road trips both long and short.