Traveling to a new destination is a fun adventure, and bringing along your beloved furry pet makes it that much sweeter.  Many are opting to bring their dogs along with them when traveling rather that hiring a dog sitter or boarding their pet. If you’ve never embarked on a road trip with your dog, there is some planning required to make it successful for both you and Fido.

Be Prepared: How Your Dog Travels

The first thing to know before you start your journey is how your dog reacts to car rides in the first place.  Does your doggo love the car, or does he have extreme anxiety?  Some dogs like to sleep the whole ride, while others suffer from motion sickness.  Knowing your dog’s travel tendencies will help you begin your preparations.  If motion sickness is a problem, you can first try tactics like avoiding heavy feedings prior to the ride and ensuring that there is ample air flow in your vehicle.  You can also talk to your veterinarian about medications you can administer prior to travel. It may be helpful to start taking short drives around town to help your furry friend acclimate to the car and become excited to travel.

Be Prepared: Plan Your Stops and Overnight Stays

With GPS now readily accessible on your smartphone, gone are the days of pulling out the big road map to plan out your trip.  Even though you may not need to map out the directions ahead of time, you do need to look ahead to plan your stops and overnight stays.  Just like your human passengers, your dog will need to go potty and stretch his legs every couple of hours, so map out dog parks or safe grassy areas along your route ahead of time so you aren’t having to search around last minute.  Similarly, if you are going to need to stop somewhere for the night, you will have to find which hotels will allow pets.  Some will charge a pet fee, and a few will allow you to bring your pet free of charge.  Be sure to call ahead and research online prior to making reservations.

Be Prepared: Inside Your Car

Once you have your trip properly mapped out, the next step is your packing list – not just for you, but also for your dog.  You’ll need to pack enough food for the entire trip, including your travel days. Don’t forget bedding, poop bags, a harness, a leash, medical and vaccination records, water, and a travel bowl, either.  It’s a good idea to give your dog water and a little food each time you stop to prevent dehydration.  Barkpost also recommends using a dog restraint in the car, both for their safety and for yours.  There are a lot of options to choose from, ranging from attached harnesses to soft crates.  Just like the human passengers in the car, safety is always the most important priority.

Be Prepared: Consider Your Destination

The last step in preparation is to consider your destination.  Are you going on a ski trip?  Pack your pup some snow boots to protect their paws and a jacket if their coat isn’t designed for cold weather.  Are you going camping or hiking? Make sure all flea and tick medications are up to date, and purchase a top-rated backpack for your dog to wear so he can help carry some of the supplies and gear.  Heading to a lake or beach? Pack a dog life vest and sunscreen. According to PetMD, dogs can suffer sunburns just like humans, so you should purchase dog-safe sunscreen to protect him if he’ll be at risk.

While there is quite a bit of preparation involved in having a successful road trip with your four-legged best friend, it is well worth it in the long run.  Taking care to keep your pup happy and calm, planning out your stops, stocking up the car, and packing according to your activities will result in a relaxing trip.  You and your dog can enjoy your vacation knowing that everything is in order

Written by Nick Burton