Are you ready to create some great road trip memories by hitting the wide open road with your favourite furry friend(s)? Before you leave, try following these 10 steps to ensure it’s a safe and enjoyable trip for you AND your dog.
Contact your vet
If it’s been a while since your dog’s last vet visit, now’s the time to take then in. Ensure your dog is up-to-date for vaccinations, and ask if any additional vaccinations are required for the trip since your dog may encounter different threats, like Lyme disease, at your destination or along the way. Also, get a copy of your dog’s medical records and extra meds, just in case your trip is delayed. And take the time to program your phone with contact information, including the address, for a 24/7 emergency dog vet at your destination.
Plan your route
You want to ensure that your schedule accommodates time for regular breaks. For their physical comfort and happiness, your dog needs to have the opportunity to relieve themselves but also to walk around and experience the new environment every so often. Plan to take a 15 to 30 minute break every 4 hours. You can also make very long trips more enjoyable for both of you if you plan stops at locations with pet-friendly attractions, even if it’s just a nice dog park.
Get a weather report
This can help you better prepare for issues like rain that could slow your travel or make you not want to take your dog out of the car for a toilet trip. Pick a day when it’s not too hot or cold and there’s little to no rain. Also, with natural disasters such as bushfires on the rise, it’s wise to check the weather warning websites for live updates on these types of events if you’re heading towards or through a high risk area.
Book pet-friendly accommodations
Now that you have your route planned, you need to plan your accommodation. Not all hotels accept pets, and even campsites often have restrictions or even a total ban on dogs staying. This may require contacting individual hotels in advance to find out their pet policies, including breed restrictions, rules, and possible fees.
Try using two of my favourite sites for finding suitable accommodation:
Arrange for dog care at your destination
If you are attending an event, such as a wedding or graduation, that will take you away from your dog for a period of time while you’re at your destination, you should locate a day care or boarding service. Don’t leave your dog unattended. The unfamiliar environment can cause your dog more anxiety than at home, so you want to ensure that they’re being cared for by professionals. If you have friends and family at your destination, ask them for recommendations for dog care.
Crate your dog
With your dog spending hours in the car, it’s more important than ever to consider safety issues. The safest way for your dog to travel is either in a harness that attaches to the cars seatbelt buckles or in a crash proof dog crate. It is the law to secure your pet when travelling in the car, no matter the duration of the trip or the size of the dog.
Pack a bag for your dog
Separating their items from your items will make it easier to access them when you need them on the ride. Consider all the places you will visit along the way when packing. Items you may need include:
- Food and food bowl
- Water, water bottle and bowl
- Toys for chewing and fetching
- Protective clothing
- Dog-safe insect repellent and sunscreen
- Doggy life jacket
- Blanket and dog towel
- Brush and shampoo
- Flea comb and tick remover
- Poop bags
Update your dog’s ID
If your dog is lost on your trip, you’ll obviously want to find them as quickly as possible. If the number on their tag is your home phone number, this could be very difficult. Take the time to make an ID just for the trip, listing not just your mobile phone number but an additional emergency number for a friend or family member in the area. Also ensure that they’re microchipped with up to date information and currently registered with your local council. Ensuring you have plenty of clear and recent photos of them too comes in handy if they do go missing.
Prepare your dog for the trip
Many dogs suffer from car sickness, so it’s best to feed your dog a few hours before you get in the car. Before you head out, take a nice, long walk, so that they’re ready to rest and relax for the trip.
Maintain your routine
It’s not possible to do everything exactly as you would at home, but the more you remain consistent, the better. Once you reach your destination, feed and walk your dog on the same schedule you would at home. If you can, increase the walk time to help them get rid of the extra excitement and anxiety of the trip.
You’ve taken the time to prepare, so now just kick back, have fun, and enjoy the time together!