Wayne and I were married 21 years ago and decided to go back to the scene of the crime via a road trip. This trip got us thinking about important aspects of road-tripping with your dog Here are some tips for your adventures.
Is your dog wearing current tags just in case you are separated for any reason? Having your dog chipped is great but most people do not know how to get a chip read or cannot easily do so. Tags and a chip is best.
Your dog should have a good recall if he will be off-leash for any reason. Heel and loose-leash walking are other very helpful behaviors that you should brush up on prior to your trip.
Although the world has gotten a lot more dog-friendly, there are lots of places where dogs are not allowed. Research the places that you’re going to go to ensure that they allow dogs and accept that you may be restricted as to where you can go. Many dogs are not allowed on many of the National Park trails, in restaurants, stores, and other places that you may want to visit. Traveling with your dog means that you will need to adjust to going only to dog-friendly places.
What are the settings that your dog is comfortable in? Is your dog comfortable in towns with lots of people and other dogs? Is your dog comfortable with the sounds inside of a hotel like stomping feet or slamming doors down the hall? If you’re going to visit family or friends, is your dog comfortable with their dogs, kids, and new people? Again, traveling with your dog may mean adjusting your itinerary depending on your dog’s comfort level in various settings.
Bring some comforts from home so your dog has something that is familiar. A kennel, bed, mat, or favorite toy or blanket can bring some comfort to being in an unfamiliar place.
Bring your dog’s medication and entire food supply for the entire trip in case you can’t get the food or medication you need while on the trip.
Please know that your dog may need extra rest time than normal because traveling can be stressful and tiring for even well-adjusted dogs so leave time for downtime and naps.
Take your dog out for more frequent potty breaks wherever you stay as your dog is not used to the new location and may not know how to alert in the same way at home.
We don’t recommend leaving your dog in the car or in a hotel room as that may create anxiety from being alone in a strange place. Your dog may or may not be comfortable being alone at home but a new strange place can create anxiety.
Consider if it might be best to leave your dog at home as the situation and or the location you’re going to might be too overwhelming for your dog. Some dogs enjoy the adventures while others would prefer to be in their familiar environment even if it means having a caregiver instead of you.