Going on a road trip is very exciting, especially when you’re planning on taking your dog along. However, planning for the extra passenger can also be a bit anxiety-inducing as well. Dogs add another layer of complexity to the trip. If you’re looking to have success on this road trip, it is important to plan appropriately.
Before you consider taking your dog on a road trip, you should consider these six questions.
Does Your Dog Have Enough Experience?
You shouldn’t take a dog that has hardly ridden in cars on a long car ride. They simply haven’t experienced cars enough to be confident and behave appropriately. Many dogs will become stressed and anxious, which is a recipe for problem behaviors. Anxious dogs are often more fearful and aggressive. Plus, they may try to calm themselves in destructive ways, like chewing.
If you have months before your road trip, you can use the time to prepare your dog. Take them in the car more often, starting with slow rides and slowly elongating them. Some dogs take quickly to cars, while others need a lot of preparation.
Is My Dog Physically Able?
Some dogs simply aren’t physically able to go on long road trips. If your dog can’t hold their bladder for very long, then it probably won’t be able to withstand a longer road trip. Dogs on specific diets, senior dogs with eating problems or medication regimens may also be unsuitable for road trips. If your dog has any sort of medical problem, can you properly manage it while on the road and away from their usual vet?
Even if your dog doesn’t have any health problems, you should take them to the vet before you leave. The last thing you want is for your dog to get sick while on the road. It is best if you rule out any health problems before you leave. Your dog may need new vaccinations depending on where they are traveling to.
Would My Dog Like It?
Some dogs just don’t have the personality necessary for road trips. They may not like new people or dogs, which is all they will see while on the road. They may also be leash-reactive and anxious when in new places, which can spell disaster when they don’t have anywhere familiar to stay. Don’t take an anxious dog on a road trip. It won’t be fun for you or them.
You may want to take your dog on a few test outings before the road trip. For instance, consider going to the park or taking a short trip to a neighboring town to a dog-friendly restaurant. Consider going on an overnight trip as well, just to see how your dog sleeps in an unusual environment. This could even be to a friend’s house, as long as your dog is sleeping somewhere unusual.
How Will I Feed My Dog?
How do you plan on feeding your dog while on the trip? Depending on how short the trip is, you may be able to take all the food you need with you. However, consider how you’ll keep the food dry and away from pests when on the road. This can be a bit more difficult than when you’re at home.
If you can’t take enough food with you, you’ll have to purchase it on the road. You should plan out where you’ll need to purchase food and consider what to do if the store you shop at doesn’t have your dog’s food. Will it matter? If your dog is on a special diet, this can be a serious problem.
Is My Dog Microchipped?
ID tags are a great option when you’re local. On the road, they can be less helpful. If your dog runs off, an ID tag might not help reunite you since your address will be hundreds of miles away. You’ll also be unable to do the usual things recommended when a dog becomes lost, such as checking the local animal shelters.
For this reason, a microchip is essential. We recommend them for every dog. They are inexpensive and work far better than a simple ID tag. However, if you’re going to travel, they are even more important. Microchips are universal in that they can be scanned from anywhere in the world.
What’s the Worst-Case Scenario?
Anyone planning on taking their dog on vacation should plan for the worst-case scenarios. Dogs can complicate many normally stressful situations and make them even more difficult. For instance, what happens if you get in a car wreck? Many rental car services allow dogs inside but require that the customer return the car free from pet hair. Is that possible with your dog?
What happens if your dog becomes ill? Are you willing to stop for a few days while they recover at a vet’s office? Do you have the funds to do that? Veterinary fees vary by location. Even if you can afford an emergency vet bill at home, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to afford one on the road—research prices before you leave.
If you’re on a time crunch, it is often best to leave your dog at home. They can often add extra time to the trip for all sorts of reasons, such as extra potty breaks and stomach troubles. If you need to be somewhere ASAP, you may be unable to accommodate all of these extra tasks.
There are many things that can go wrong when you’re taking your dog on a road trip. Planning can help things go a bit more smoothly, but dogs will always add a bit of unknowability to the trip. Plan for the unexpected, and it won’t be so stressful when you can’t find your dog’s food while traveling.