Being able to travel with your furry best friend in your car is a great way to bond with your dog while spending as many moments with them as you can! However, there are certain considerations that can make your time in the car with your dog easier and more enjoyable, as well as keeping your dog safe.
What Should I Bring?
You’re probably familiar with most of the things you might need on a trip - many of them are probably similar to what you take on your daily walk. Items to consider bringing when you are traveling include:
- Poop bags
- Water for your dog
- Water bowl
- Training treats
- Rabies vaccine certificate
You can carry many of these items in a bait bag type of pouch, or in your own purse or backpack. If your dog is well conditioned, you can also have them carry some items in their own backpack.
Unlike us, looking for a gas station or stopping at a restaurant for a bathroom break, our dogs need a different location to relieve themselves. When you plan your stops, look to see if the property also has a grassy area for your dog. Many true rest stops have plenty of outdoor space to take your dog on a quick walks. These places are ideal for dogs who need to get moving a little or sniff for the perfect spot before stopping, since there are plenty of opportunities.
You can also check gas stations or restaurants on Google Maps satellite view if you are already thinking of stopping to fill up (gas tanks or stomachs!). While these places are often not dog-friendly inside, most will not mind your dog making a quick stop outside, especially since you are a responsible dog owner who will be cleaning up after their dog!
The other option is to look for a local park near another place you are stopping. City websites will often tell you if the park is dog friendly or not. What I love the most about stopping at a park is that I can use the excuse of letting my dog stretch their legs to give myself a break from driving and stretch my legs myself!
Regardless of where you stop to let your dog have a bathroom break, make sure you are cleaning up after your dog. Poop should be picked up and thrown in an acceptable trash can, and if you have a male dog who marks, try and prevent them from marking on buildings or other places where people are walking. As dog owners, we need to work together to keep our dogs well behaved and clean up after them in order to keep these areas for our dogs.
Food and Water Breaks
Depending on your travel set up, food and water might not be easily accessible to your dog when they are riding in your vehicle. Especially since dogs may be stressed more when they are traveling, make sure you are providing ample opportunities for your dog to eat or drink.
If it’s possible, offering your dog food close to their typical schedule can help. Especially keep this in mind if your dog likes to eat on the dot and you are changing time zones! It’s also helpful to bring a familiar bowl. If you are packing foldable travel bowls, you can introduce them to your dog before leaving on vacation so they are comfortable eating and drinking out of the different material.
You should try to offer my dogs water at every stop. Even if you’re not necessarily taking your dog on a bathroom break walk, you can let my dog out quick gas station or stores to offer them the opportunity to drink. If your dog is traveling in a kennel, you can also consider bowls that attach to their kennel directly to prevent spilling and offer your dogs food and water that way as well.
What to do about all that fur?!
One unfortunate aspect of many breeds of dogs is that they shed - a LOT! While most of us have a vacuum or broom in our homes to help tackle the amount of fur, it’s a different story when it comes to our vehicles. Not all of us will have access to a vacuum that can tackle the insides of our cars, and paying for frequent detailing can get expensive and take up a lot of time. If you plan to have your dog travel with you in the car, look for ways that you can cover your vehicle to keep the seats and floors as free from dog fur as possible. A sheet or blanket can help in a pinch, but there are also seat covers that can be purchased. A seat protector designed to help with dogs is often the best way to keep fur out of your car, because they often have openings specifically for seatbelt buckles and fabric that can be easily shaken out or washed to eliminate the dog hair.
Dirt, mud, sand, and more!
It’s not just dog fur that we have to worry about when traveling with our dogs. If you plan to make any stops to let your dog enjoy the woods, lakes, rivers, or beaches, you’ll also face the problem of bringing dirt, mud, and sand into your vehicle once the adventure is over and it’s time to travel back home. One way to solve the problem of a wet dog is to bring a towel to dry them off before the trip home, but not all dogs will dry quickly. If you have a breed of dog with a thicker coat, it may be hours until their fur is dry enough to not get the seats of your vehicle wet as well. Plus, dirt and sand can easily hide in thick fur, or in between your dog’s toes no matter the length of their coat. As with fur, sand and dirt can create problems for your vehicle’s cleanliness and it may need to be professionally cleaned. When looking into a seat covering to protect your vehicle, consider looking for one that is waterproof and has fabric that will easily repel the pieces of nature that might try to sneak a ride back home.
Safety in the Car
One of the most important and overlooked aspects of traveling with your dog is making sure they are safe in case of an accident. As humans, we have seat belts designed to keep us safe, and we often don’t think twice about providing the same measures to our dogs. There are a variety of ways we can help our dogs be safer while traveling.
One option is to put your dog in a kennel or a crate while traveling. If your vehicle allows for a crate large enough to hold your dog, they will be able to comfortably turn around and lie down, as well as being protected in the case of an accident. The biggest risk for dogs in a car accident is the risk of the dog becoming a projectile. Crates provide a barrier that prevents that from happening.
Another option is to use an adapter to buckle your dog into the vehicle. There are a variety of harnesses that can be used to keep your dog restrained safely. Some of these will buckle into the seat belt directly, and others will have a loop for the harness to be buckled into the seat belt in a normal fashion.
Conclusions on Traveling with Your Dog
Careful planning will go a long way in making your travels with your dog safe and comfortable! Consider the things you need to bring, how to plan your trip with breaks for your dog, and how to keep your vehicle clean and safe for your dog.