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With Memorial Day weekend only days away, summer is finally here and vacation plans are in full swing. Here at A Dog’s Life the warmer weather has us itching for outdoor adventures and we’re eager to get out of the city and explore with our furry friends. Whether you're planning a family vacation, a long weekend away, or an overnight camping trip, we’ve got you covered for how to keep your dog safe and comfortable before you hit the road.
Make sure their tags are up to date
Just like you wouldn't leave home without some form of ID, it’s important to have all of your dog’s information up to date by the time you leave for your destination. Collars should be secure and tagged and it's a good time to double check microchip records for any missing information. A tracking device can add an extra layer of protection if your dog is skittish or not trained off leash. Beyond personal information, some hotels, campgrounds, and daycares require proof of vaccinations at check in. It's a great idea to have records accessible, either on paper or in an email from your vet in case of emergencies.
While packing it’s important to consider how you’re going to set up space for your dog. The safest way to keep your dog safe and secure is with a travel crate, which can also come in handy by providing your dog a safe haven when set up in a guest room or hotel. If your dog isn’t crate trained then a back seat car hammock with their bed is terrific for long drives. Dog seat belts are a great extra precaution– not only do they keep your pup secure in an accident, but they also prevent your dog from moving around the vehicle and becoming a distraction. If it’s not possible to provide water at all times, make sure you have some handy with a travel bowl to offer frequently throughout the trip.
Pack for success
Packing for long car rides is more than counting up cups of dog food and a couple of toys. Long lasting chews, enrichment toys, and special high value treats are a great way to keep your dog busy and make travel a relaxed and enjoyable experience for them. Have an upcoming trip and need to stock up? Order a box here for hours of summer entertainment for your pup.
Keep a schedule
Even a long weekend away can be a big change for a dog who doesn’t leave home often. To keep your dog at ease it’s beneficial to keep their travel schedule as close to daily life as possible. Feeding them at their usual times and keeping morning and evening walks regular will keep your dog at ease as well as give your own days some structure and stability.
Even if your dog is happy to sleep in the car or sit back and watch the world go by, it’s important to give them a chance to sniff around and burn off some energy any chance you get. Every time you stop for gas or take a rest stop break make sure your pup gets a chance to hop out of the car and explore. A couple of minutes of sniffing around does wonders to calm their nervous system and get them ready for the next leg of the journey.
Find dog friendly stops
Incorporating dog-friendly pit stops along your route can turn even the most tedious travel into another adventure with your best friend. Finding a hike, wandering around a local farmers market, or even enjoying a pit stop at a dog friendly cafe or brewery will give you a chance to sightsee a new city while also allowing your pup to socialize and stretch their legs.
Prepare to get dirty
Dogs are messy, and cars can easily become stinky, hairy, muddy, and sandy depending on how much time your dog is in and out of it. Pack up some extra old towels, wipes, fabric cleaner, and even a cordless vacuum if you have the space to keep your space fresh and comfortable.
Get your dog familiar first
Before you even leave the driveway it’s important to know how your dog feels about the car. Take some joy rides with your pup and notice how they respond. Are they nervous, or are they excited to see where they’re headed? Do they get car sick or have a hard time sitting still? Some dogs may need a prescription for motion sickness while others may simply not be a natural travel companion. If this is the case with your dog, consider hiring a trusted boarding facility or pet sitter to look after them where they can be comfortable and cared for without the stress of car rides. For some tips on how to get set up for pet sitting success check out our March blog post here.