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Tips for an Easy and Fun Doggie Road Trip
DogsBehavior

Tips for an Easy and Fun Doggie Road Trip

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Jul 15, 2022

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Road trips are great fun, and so are dogs. Putting the two together can only be more awesome, right? Well, it can be, but you have to be careful. The same stress and anxiety you feel during a 500-mile cross-country drive also affect your pets, and dogs are especially sensitive to it all. It can still be tons of fun, but you have to plan ahead, take along provisions and prepare well in advance if you want to have a fantastic road trip adventure with your furry best friends.

1

Start your trip with a tired dog

Young woman and her dog traveling together gpointstudio / Getty Images

The sheer puppylike of a dog in a car is a joy to behold... for about an hour. After that, it can be a hassle to have an antsy pupper pacing around inside your vehicle. Consider taking your pal for a run right before the drive to keep them under control. Even if they don't get totally worn out, this will at least burn off some of that surplus energy.

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2

No food for an hour before the drive

Small dog in back seat of car secured safely Ulrika / Getty Images

If this is your dog's first road trip, you may not know how they'll respond to the stress and the motion of the car. Some dogs, like some people, get sick during a road trip, which can be an unfortunate mess you have to deal with. As a precaution, try withholding food for at least an hour before the journey starts. When you're sure they're handling the road, go ahead and feed them during a stop.

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3

Bring water and food

girl gives dog water manushot / Getty Images

Water and food are absolute must-haves for any road trip worthy of the name, but they're essential for dogs. A good rule of thumb is to plan for however much food your dog eats in a day, multiplied by the number of days you expect the trip to take, plus two more days. Add extra water if you're going someplace warm since this is one of the few ways a dog can stay cool.

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4

Don't forget (calming) treats

woman giving treat to dog in the car LeoPatrizi / Getty Images

You may have already thought about all the awesome doggie treats you're going to bring for the trip, but you can get more out of them than just tail-wagging and face-licks. Talk with your vet about calming treats that can help a nervous pooch get through a hard trek without too much stress. They can be beneficial if you're going somewhere with loud noises or pressure changes your furry friend might not take well.

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5

Plan to stop a lot

Woman runs with her dog through a field enigma_images / Getty Images

People need frequent stops to get out and stretch their legs, and this is even more true for your pooch, who probably needs to run around every couple of hours. Schedule a stop someplace grassy every two hours or so, but be ready to pull over if they get antsy or seem uncomfortable. Be a responsible pet owner, and don't forget the doggie waste bags.

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6

Bring puppy pads (no, more than that. More. Pack more.)

beagle dog traveling inside a car Alba Caro / Getty Images

There's no such thing as too many puppy training pads. Pack a million of 'em and lay them all over the car. Buy as many pads as you think you'll need, then remember that excited dogs frequently wee all over. Buy more, and then double it. There's nothing like losing time and finishing a road trip two days late when your supply of pupper pads ran out 36 hours ago. Seriously, just buy a lot.

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7

Get a doggie first aid kit

Golden Retriever with First-Aid-Kit PK-Photos / Getty Images

Healthy dogs are curious dogs, and your pooch probably loves sticking a snout into random holes and heaps of garbage. During the frequent breaks on the roadside, you never know what they'll get into, which is why you need a canine first aid kit. These usually include tick removers, syringes, and 3% hydrogen peroxide in case of poisoning. You can make a kit for yourself or search online for a vet-approved kit for the car.

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8

Carry vet records, just in case

Young woman packing her suitcase in company of her Maltese dog BjelicaS / Getty Images

Veterinary records are one of those things you don't need until you suddenly do. Make copies of your doggos' records and carry them in the vehicle with you. If you've done this before, check to make sure they're all up to date. If you ever do need to swing by a vet's office miles from home, you'll be glad you have the paperwork for it. You might also need shot records if you're kennelling.

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9

Arrange for canine accommodations at every stop

woman with her dog at a hotel reception RossHelen / Getty Images

Hotels and motels all have different policies for pets, and some have different policies for different pets. If your dog is a comfort or helper animal, you're basically good to go since, in the United States, every accommodation is required to let them in. Dogs that don't have the paperwork might be less welcome in some places. Call and make sure your pooch is welcome at every stop, or have a backup plan in place.

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10

Schedule time with your pup

man and his dog having fun outdoors Nevena1987 / Getty Images

Traveling can be stressful enough for humans who know what's going on and can foresee the end destination. Dogs can get even more stressed out when a day goes by, and they're not home annoying the cat yet. Your affection is the best way to keep them calm since your dog will be happy with basically anything as long as you're there with them. Try to play and cuddle as much as you can.

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