Thinking about hitting the open road with your pup for your next vacation? It pays to plan ahead and be prepared prior to taking your dog on a long car trip.

  1. Take some test drives before the big day arrives. Drive a little longer than you normally would so your dog gets used to being in the car for longer periods of time. And take those test trips to happy destinations like a dog park or your pups dog daycare facility. That way your dog will associate a car ride with having fun.
  2. If you can, exercise your pup a bit before you leave. Take a good long walk or visit a dog park. Or, bring your dog to doggy daycare the day before you leave so he can have a full day of fun with his pals. (Maybe even treat him to a bath while he’s there since you’ll be spending so much time together in a small space!) Your pup will be good and tired before the long car ride the next day.
  3. Don’t feed your dog a big meal right before you set off on your road trip. Give small treats and plenty of water so your pup stays hydrated. Eating too much and riding in a car can cause a tummy ache.
  4. Make sure you pack a favorite blanket or toy- dogs love to have their own smells around them. It will also be helpful to have those familiar items with them when you get to a new destination and they have to sleep in an unfamiliar spot.
  5. Keep your pup safe and secure while riding in the car. A ventilated pet carrier or crate for them to ride in is a good option. If you can’t find a crate or carrier that meets your needs try a pet safety belt or travel harness. Or take a look at pet car seats that attach to the car’s safety belt system. These should also include straps that keep your dog contained- tethering him to the car seat. Some seats also provide a booster to elevate your pup so a smaller dog can look out the window. Whatever item you choose remember to use it on your test drives before the big trip so your dog gets used to the sensation of being held in place in the car.
  6. Always have a current photo of your dog with you. This will be especially helpful if your dog gets away from you and you need to find him. And make sure his ID tag on his collar has all of your correct contact into. If your pet has a microchip, make sure all of your information is accurate there as well.
  7. When you’re on the road, take frequent bathroom breaks so your dog can stretch his legs and sniff new turf. Small treats are great rewards for being a good car buddy.

Road trips can be a fun way to spend time together with family and friends and see the country. And your pup can have a great time too. All it takes is a bit of planning, some test drives and packing the right stuff before you hit the open highway.