If our dog is our best friend (and let’s face it—they totally are), then we certainly don’t want to leave them behind on our next big adventure. But like many human companions, pets can be quite a handful to travel with.
If a road trip with your favorite beast is in order, it’s never too early to start preparing! Below are some tips that will help you and your pet stay safe and happy as you traverse these great United States.
DO: Plan Ahead
It’s important to map out your route to accommodate breaks for your dog. Just like humans, pets need an opportunity to stretch their legs and visit a restroom (which for them may be the nearest oak tree). Make sure you know just how long your trip is going to take and where the rest stops are, so that you can plan out when and where you’re going to stop. You may also want to gauge beforehand how often your dog needs to be let out to do its business, so that you can work that schedule into your trip. Find dog parks or beaches to take your four-legged buddy to, so that they can stretch their legs and get thoroughly tired out before hopping back into the car.
Also make sure to find pet-friendly places to eat and stay. You’d hate to get to your expensive 5-star resort hotel, only to be turned away because Lassie isn’t allowed to lounge by the pool.
DON’T: Assume You’re Prepared
There will undoubtedly be things you forgot to consider before you packed up the pooch for the long haul. Do you have enough food to get them comfortably to your destination? What about water? Toys? Did you bring a potty pad for their crate or carrier?
Bring extra funds to compensate for your momentary lapse of planning. Have a backup plan in case your hotel failed to mention that they don’t allow pets (or you failed to ask). And don’t take your frustration out on your pup when these things come up!
DO: Provide Entertainment
If you think your kids are tough to occupy while on a long road trip or a plane, try traveling with feisty Fido! While cats are typically content to just sit around, our beloved pups usually want to hang out the window, tongue lolling free… and then jump over to the other window (more tongue lolling ensues)… and then fly to the backseat where they can run awkward circles until they fall off the seat, and then try to jump into your lap in the front of the car. None of this is conducive to good driving on your part, and can be very dangerous for your pet as well. Give them a chew toy, have another person sit in the back with them, or put on their favorite song (what, your dog doesn’t have a favorite song?).
DO: Restrain Them (Nicely!)
Remember our above scenario, where Fido was zipping throughout the car on all cylinders? Not only is that dangerous for you, but it also could prove dangerous (or even fatal) to your pet. While we want to give our pets all of the enjoyment they can get out of a trip, we also need to consider the danger posed to them if they’re left unrestrained. They could lean too far outside of the car window, or even jump out altogether. Additionally, any sudden stops you make while driving will send the poor pooch flying.
There are many different models of doggy car seats that you can purchase to keep your canine comfortable and safe at the same time. Some strap to the back of the seat, similar to a child’s car seat, while others resemble a padded crate with a chest strap to fit around your pet’s body in order to keep them inside. Just remember to put it near the window… after all, who doesn’t love a nice breeze?
DON’T: Get Frustrated
I know it’s hard, but we need to remember that pets aren’t humans. They don’t understand WHY they need to be restrained, or WHY they can’t just jump out of the car. They probably don’t even fully understand the words you say to them—just the sound of the word and the tone of your voice. So when they don’t listen to you when you tell them to sit down or stop slobbering all over the window… well, you can’t really blame them.
Take a deep breath, and then bust out the Lysol when you get home. It’s just doggy drool!
DO: Have Fun!
Remember—everything is better when we have our loved ones with us, including our furry friends. Take the bad with the good, and give your pet as much opportunity to enjoy themselves as you would give yourself. Having your dog by your side can change the entire face of your trip for the better—so grab the leash and the camera, and get out on those roads!