How to Travel With Your Dog By Car
Car rides can be fun adventures for you and your canine companion, and you'll want to make sure he's comfortable for every mile of that drive. When planning how to travel with your dog, you'll want to consider security, comfort, and fun for you both. If you think ahead, you and he will enjoy the rides and make cherished memories together.
Restraints Are a Must
First things first — make sure your pupper will be out of harm's way while the car is moving by containing or restraining him. He shouldn't be just roaming freely. It can increase distracted driving behaviors and cause stress and increased heart rates for you both. You also don't want him to slide around during turns and stops and get injured.
Four-legged friends come in different sizes and shapes, and so do the travel accessories that are made for them. Common ways people keep dogs secure in the car include:
Travel crate. It should be made of a crash-resistant material, be ventilated, and fit your dog's size. Ideally, you would buckle it into a seat or situate it so that it doesn't slide.
Pet carrier. This can work well for containing smaller dogs and may be able to be buckled in. Some varieties even convert into backpacks to carry your pup around.
Canine car seat. This is a solid option if you two drive together often because it attaches securely to the backseat. Some even have boosters so small dogs can see out the window.
Seat belt attachment. This might be a buckle system or a strap that connects to a harness your dog wears to help keep him in a seat. Look for ones that are crash-tested.
Another reason to keep your pup contained is that — as adorable as it is — he shouldn't stick his head out the window when the car is moving. He could fall or jump out, or debris could hit him in the face.
Go for a Test Drive
If your pal isn't used to car travel, don't take off on a long trip without some preparation. Get him acquainted with the restraint you choose and set your expectations from the start. Try out short drives at first, then extend the length of the trip until he seems comfortable and behaves well.
While you're on these test drives, watch for signs of motion sickness — excessive yawning, drooling, lip-licking, whining, or vomiting. Lowering the windows just enough for fresh air to flow through can help. Your vet might also recommend medication or other treatments.
Make Long Trips Comfy
If you're going to be in the car for a while, keep your pupper's needs in mind so the ride stays enjoyable for him. To stave off motion sickness, feed him a light meal about four hours before you take off. It's usually best not to give him anything to eat in the car while it's moving.
Schedule potty breaks at least every hour and a half. Even if you could go longer without stopping, he may need it. Give him a bit of exercise when you do so he'll be more likely to stay calm until the next stop. It's also a good time to give him a small treat as a reward before you start moving again.
Especially for longer journeys, you'll want to bring your furry friend's favorite pillow, blanket, or toy so he can have something familiar nearby for comfort. You might also pack a kit for him with his leash, travel bowls, waste bags, cleanup supplies, and any necessary medicine. Stowing some bottled water in the car could also be useful; some pups can get upset stomachs from drinking unfamiliar water.
Planning for a Smooth Ride
Ultimately, you'll want to do the same things for your buddy that you do for yourself when you road trip.
You wouldn't leave without your driver's license, so make sure he's wearing his collar and an ID tag. You might consider having him microchipped. It's also a good idea to keep a canine first-aid kit in the car (alongside your own) so it's there any time you two travel. You may want to tuck a copy of his vaccination records in there, too, in case you need to see an out-of-town vet.
With a little planning, you'll know exactly how to travel with your dog worry-free and enjoy anything from a Sunday drive to a long road trip. Life is all about making memories together. Going on safe adventures with your pal is a great way for you two to build your bond.