Dog-Friendly Travel: Road Trip Checklist

by on April 30th, 2012 at 8:40 am

It’s almost summer, and what better time than now to hit the open road with one of your favorite companions? However, preparing your 4-legged friend for a 4-wheel adventure is a must to ensure that his health and well-being stay intact along the way.

1.      Make sure your dog is comfortable in the car. For safety, many experts recommend purchasing a dog harness/seat belt or carrier. Several weeks before your departure, take your dog on a few short, local rides and get him accustomed to riding. This will also give you a chance to see if he has any tendencies to get anxious or carsick.

2.      Practice bathroom breaks. Some dogs are only able to have bowel movements in familiar territory. Consider if the areas you’ll be stopping at will have adequate grassy areas, and if you need to help train your dog to go to the bathroom in different environments. While still at home, give your pet a few weeks to get adapted to a potty cue phrase, and offer a reward afterwards for reinforcement.

3.      Plan your lodging itinerary. Not all hotels are dog-friendly, so make sure you check and confirm by phone before you book. For recommendations, check out this blog post.

4.      Keep your pet to a schedule. As much as possible, keep your pet on the same bathroom and feeding schedule as he would have at home to minimize the chance for any accidents or digestive upset.

5.      Exercise your pet. In addition to potty breaks, give your pet ample time to go for a long walk, run around and relax.  Packing along a favorite toy can help keep him entertained while he’s cooped up in the car until you reach your next break spot.

6.      Keep your dog’s head in the car. While most dogs love the feel of the breeze on their face, this can not only be dangerous, but can also be harmful to the eyes. Excessive wind can lead to dry eyes and road debris can lead to scratches and irritation.

7.      Watch out for wooded/grassy areas. While your pet may be excited to roam, be aware of possible ticks, snakes and other dangers. Keep your pet on a tight leash and check him thoroughly after a hike. Make sure vaccinations are current.

8.      Pack the essentials. Before your trip, make sure you have all your pet’s medicines and natural remedies on hand. Check your pet’s collar and tag to be sure it’s secure and up-to-date. Pack an extra leash, plenty of bottled water, feeding bowls, food and bags for waste pickup.

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