Traveling with your dog – Part 3

This is part 3 of a 3 part series, written collaboratively by Bob and Susan Ryder.

Part 1 Part 2

Taking a road trip with your dog?  Here are some helpful tips for you while on the road:

Family portrait in Zion NP.

*Frequent stops: We try to take a break at least every couple hours at a rest stop. Normally Kayla doesn’t need to go potty that often at home, but being in the car for longer stretches can be boring for her. So we stop more frequently than when we’re without her to let her sniff and stretch her legs. She LOVES rests stops (all those new smells) and checks out every blade of grass she can access. We find the extra breaks do us good, as well.  Just remember to always pick up after your dog. It’s the right thing to do, and in some places, it’s the law.

*We don’t let Kayla stick her head out the window when we are driving, particularly at high speeds. As much as many dogs love doing this, it can be harmful. Objects flying through the air may strike their faces and do damage to eyes and ears. A few inches is enough for her to check out smells and fell the breeze.

*Never leave your pet alone in your motel room. It’s usually against motel policy, and if a dog destroys objects in a room, of course you have to pay the damages. In addition, if a barking dog annoys other guests, you may be asked to leave. If a motel has several problems with pets, they may change their pet policy, so for your sake and other pet lovers, always stay with your dog.

*On a warm or hot days, we never leave Kayla in our parked car unattended.  Cars heat up quickly in warm weather, and can kill a dog left alone in a very short time – for instance, on a lovely 78-degree day, the temperature inside a shaded car is 90 degrees, while the inside of a car parked in the sun can reach 160 degrees in just minutes. Dogs trapped inside parked cars can succumb to heatstroke within minutes – even if the windows are cracked and the car isn’t parked in direct sunlight.  So our advice?  Just don’t do it!  Most of the time we can avoid leaving her alone in the car by splitting up to do shopping and other errands, always leaving one of us with her in the vehicle, either parked in a shady spot with the windows open, or if it’s really hot, driving around the parking lot with the AC on for spells to keep her comfortable as needed.

*Related to the suggestion above, we tend to eat “on the road.” We get fast food or other take-out food while driving, and eat it in the car so as not to leave Kayla unattended for long periods.  If we do go in to eat at a restaurant, we go after dark, when the sun is down but only if it’s cooled down enough to be safe, and leave the windows open to create a nice breeze (but not so wide she can escape). When possible, we try to be seated where we can view the vehicle.  Otherwise one of us checks on her every 20 minutes or so to make sure she has water and is doing okay.  We tend to travel in the cooler months (November and February), which makes heat less of an issue, but if your dog is a barker it can quickly become a nuisance to other patrons, so be respectful of them.

Other general suggestions:

*Sometimes we visit places where Kayla just isn’t isn’t allowed, so we check around for day boarding possibilities, or even overnight. For instance, we spent a day at Disneyland a few years ago, and for a surprisingly low fee, she was boarded at the Disney Kennels for the day.  Does your dog have separation anxiety, or aggression issues with other dogs or people?  You’ll want to know that kennel staff are knowledgeable and prepared to handle dogs with such issues.

*Be patient with your pet. Traveling is an exciting experience for them, but can also be stressful because you are removing them from their regular routine. Just like children, they may not behave as they normally do at home. Be calm and consistent with your dog, understanding that this is a new situation for them. And if it seems to be causing more problems for you and your dog than it’s worth, you may consider leaving your pet at home with a pet-sitter in the future. Hopefully that won’t happen – but if it’s what is best for your dog, then you do need to keep it under consideration.

These are just a few suggestions we have from several trips with our dog, Kayla. It certainly isn’t exhaustive, and we hope the suggestions are helpful for you as you consider traveling with you dog.

Happy Trails!

~ Bob and Susan Ryder

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