Riding in the car with your dog is a necessary occurrence at some point for all dog owners. Visiting the vet, driving to the beach, or dropping the pup at a training course all involve some kind of travel. Whether you are planning to travel via plane, train or automobile, going anywhere with a pet can be challenging. Leaving the house is either a stressful or an exciting experience, causing animals to have extra energy, nerves and a lot of needs. So before you and your pup venture toward the horizon, here are a few tips for traveling safely with your canine companion.
Safety Tips for Traveling With Dogs
Train your dog to be travel-ready. In our post about driving with dogs we list some helpful ways to acquaint your pup with a moving vehicle. By bringing him to the car initially while it is off, then letting him explore and sit in the car while it is running for several “practice” runs will actually help him feel familiar with the experience by the time you do actually venture out for the first drive with your pet.
Ride in a crate. For all plane rides and car rides make sure the dog is transported in a crate. This is helpful so they can see what is going on, and can breathe easily. Always travel with the dog in a well-ventilated crate so he will neither be a hazard to you as the driver (this can be exceedingly dangerous), or a danger to himself by falling, hitting his head, or tripping should you have to come to an abrupt stop in a car, (or if there is turbulence in a plane). Some pet owners allow their dog free reign over where they can walk and sit during the course of the ride, and while this might work for some, we generally advise against it.
Start your pup on the right foot. Prepare for your trip by getting your dog physically and mentally ready for the ride. Go on a long walk or run with the dog to help release any energy he has and to help him be ready to lie down and relax while on the road. Help him stay calm by snapping on a calming collar, calming dog shirt, to help sooth any tension or stress he might be feeling before the journey.
Be prepared for any challenge. If the drive is going to be a long one, have a fair supply of dog food, treats, bottled water, a poop scooper, bags, dog wipes, and a leash for the moments when you can take a break and stretch your legs with the dog. Feed your dog in little portions every few hours, as this will keep him from feeling nauseous on the ride, or having large bowel movements multiple times. If you are crossing state lines you might need proof of vaccinations (evidence of a dog’s rabies shot is required in some states). Also, if you can, try to stop every few hours to let your dog do his business and go for a brief rejuvenating walk.
Take extra precautions. Avoid leaving your dog in the car unless the windows are cracked sufficiently, and he is parked somewhere cool in the shade. Even if you are only running inside for a moment, this could be very dangerous for your dog. Nothing would be worse than your pup having a heat stroke hundreds of miles from the nearest vet. Remember that what might feel like a decent afternoon to you could be unbearable for an under-hydrated dog in a fur coat. Remembering to put your pup’s safety above your own convenience; this might save his life.