Tips for Road Trips With a Dog

Over Christmas holidays I embarked on a 13 hour road trip to Seattle with my dog Rocky. I was a little nervous about how he would do but he actually loved it and I had no problems with him. Also, I noticed border guards would start talking a little nicer to me after they saw Rocky pop his head out of the rear window.

I was very fortunate because Rocky enjoyed the drive, he looked out the window as long as it was light and when it got dark he laid down and slept. I credit this to the fact that we started taking him to Waterton (1 hour drive) and other places with us as a young puppy to get him used to the car.

A few tips for road tripping with a dog-

Start Small & Start Young

We started him young on road trips.

We started him young on road trips.

Don’t take a dog who has never been in a car before on a 13 hour long road trip! You have to make sure that from a young age they get used to longer drives. Rocky is used to driving 20 minutes out to Ryan’s favourite walking spot and for an hour each way to Waterton to hike with me.

This is also important toknow whether or not your dog gets car sickness. It’s very common and the vet can prescribe a pill like gravol to soothe their sore stomachs.

Establish Clear Boundaries with Seating

I have a strict rule with Rocky that he rides in the trunk area of my SUV. For this road trip I put a blanket down in the back and allowed him to ride there just in case I needed to be in arms reach of him.

He's hard to see in this picture, look for the pink tongue.

He’s hard to see in this picture, look for the pink tongue.

I do not suggest ever letting your dog ride in the front because they will likely try to crawl into your lap while you’re driving which is a big distraction.

Protect Your Seats

Be sure to put on a seat cover or blanket. When you are road tripping you don’t want to worry about dog hair or muddy paw prints or accidents on your upholstery.

Stop Often

This was easy for me because I drink so much water and coffee all day long, I typically stop at least every two hours on my road trips.

We like to stop at rest tops with beautiful views, such as Lundbreck Falls

We like to stop at rest stops with beautiful views, such as Lundbreck Falls

 

Stop in places where your dog can get out

Playing in the woods at the rest stop outside Cranbrook

Playing in the woods at the rest stop outside Cranbrook

This is another big one. I made a point of stopping at every rest stop because they typically have a pet area that I was able to let Rocky go on. Stopping at a gas stations means you are trying to get them to go to the bathroom in a strange place on the asphalt which may weird them out.

Schedule time in your drive for walks

Walking by the Crowsnest River

Walking by the Crowsnest River

I made sure that at least twice during my 13 hour drive that I pulled over at a trail or park where I could let Rocky off leash and run his little heart out for 15-20 minutes. It helps if you plan ahead by Googling walking trails and parks along your driving route.

Monitor Their Food & Water Intake

Sunrise over the Columbia River in Richland, Washington

Sunrise over the Columbia River in Richland, Washington

I noticed on the way down Rocky refused to eat or drink while we were on our road trip. I left a bowl of water and food on the floor of the car and I would take it out at every stop and set it next to the car but he wouldn’t eat or drink. As soon as we got to the hotel, he scarfed two helpings of food and drank a ton of water. Because I knew he wouldn’t eat or drink on the road I made sure that before we left I gave him extra food and during our stops I would take him to places with fresh water such as creeks or lake shores. He would take a few sips out of those.

Roll Down the Window When You Can

There were quite a few towns I drove through where the speed limit slowed down so I would roll down my back window and let Rocky stick his head out to sniff and look around.

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Crate Nervous Dogs

I would suggest if you have a nervous dog who has had issues in the past to crate them on your drive. The vet can also prescribe a tranquilizer of sorts to calm your dog and possibly knock them out for the ride.

There are my tips. I would highly suggest you travel with your dogs if you can. Rocky  enjoyed the drive and had such a great time exploring all those new places.

Here are some other fun photos from our road trip together.

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2 Comments

  • Leigh January 8, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Your pup is adorable! We are pretty lucky that our dog loves to ride in the car. We usually put our seats down in the SUV and put his dog bed on there and he will just curl up and sleep. Just like his mom on road trips 🙂

    Reply
    • Betty LIVIN January 9, 2014 at 6:33 am

      Nice! This was my first long one with a dog and I really enjoyed it. It forced me to stop and go for walks!

      Reply

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