This is part 2 of a 3 part series, written collaboratively by Bob and Susan Ryder.
Taking a road trip with your dog? Here is some helpful advice about what to make sure you have with you in the car.
What to bring:
Our dog Kayla has her own “suitcase” – and whenever she sees us take it out of the closet, she knows a trip is coming up, which makes her very excited. Here is what we keep in her bag:
1. A couple of towels (she’s a lab, likes to swim wherever she sees water, so they are handy for drying her off, or if she gets wet or muddy at a rainy rest area, has an unexpected accident, throws up, etc.).
2. Plenty of plastic bags for picking up after her while on the road. One of the reasons pet owners are unwelcome in many places is because they don’t pick up after their dogs in rest areas, motel lawns, campgrounds, etc. Make sure you always clean up after your dog. If you’re especially virtuous and want to make things better for other responsible owners, consider picking up after others dogs, too. (I know, we shouldn’t have too compemnsate for the failings of others, but life’s not fair and it might help prevent losing access to places and things we enjoy.)
3. A couple of filled water bottles and water dish. We offer Kayla water at every rest stop, and occasionally even on the road if she seems thirsty. Even for dogs who love to travel, it can be stressful. If they are stressed or warm , they’ll be panting more than usual which loses moisture through evaporation. Keep them hydrated.
4. Individual baggies of food portions, if her mealtimes will occur on the road. We also include a plenty of treats to reward good behavior at rest stops and gas stations, as well as her medications.
5. Chew toys/balls: Kayla doesn’t usually like to chew things while we are driving, but some dogs do, and it helps alleviate boredom. On day one of our trip, we do give her at least one of her meals frozen in a large Kong, which she enjoys and keeps her occupied for a while. Plush toys and nylon bones are also good options. For obvious reasons, squeaky toys don’t make much of an appearance on road trips – unless for out in a park, maybe.
6. We also bring wet wipes and paper towels, in case of spillage or accidents.
Other items to bring include:
*Bringing your dog’s bed can be helpful because most motels don’t allow dogs on the beds. If your dog uses their bed regularly at home, it also provides something familiar for them. If it will fit, you might put it on the seat where the dog will ride as well. The familiar scent is soothing, and offers more comfortable ride for the dog.
*We keep her medical records in a safe place, usually the glove box.
*Some dogs get excited when traveling, which can cause dangerous situations for dogs and drivers alike. We are fortunate that Kayla is calm and content in the car without restraints, but not all dogs are. If your dog has a hard time sitting or reclining safely in the back seat during the trip, consider a harness that attaches to a seat belt, or “gating” your dog in the back of the vehicle if you drive a van or SUV. There are no independent safety tests we’re aware of for crates, but our sense is crates seem to be the safest option. Sudden turns or stops will be less likely to injure the dog by throwing him against walls, windows and floor. They also help prevent escapes in the event of a crash, as well as at routine stops. Additionally a crate will prevent damage to your vehicle if she becomes bored or anxious.
Next up in Part 3 of “Traveling with your dog” – Tips for the road