Updated: 5 hours ago
According to pet travel statistics, 84.4% of dog travelers prefer to use cars to transport their companions. If you’re a new pet parent taking their dog on their first holiday road trip, you may feel anxious. But there are things you can do to calm yourself and your excitable pooch.
1. Make Sure They Know Basic Commands
All of the new sights and smells your dog will pick up on the road trip could cause anxiety, excitement, and a mixture of new emotions for them. A dog who’s learned to trust you will better respond to your commands and manage through the unexpected. Before a trip, your dog should know how to sit, stay, come and leave it.
If you’re taking a long drive before getting on a train or a plane, pre-expose your dog to a train station or airport terminal if possible. You can also expose them to an unfamiliar or busy area and do a walk-through to get them used to the busyness of new areas.
2. Schedule a Vet Visit and Microchipping
Your pup will spend a lot of time in a single confined space (i.e., your car), so visit the vet to make sure they're healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations. Some facilities that are dog friendly Since a dog collar could fall off your dog during your travels, consider getting your pooched microchipped, especially if they have a chance to wander. Being in a strange and unfamiliar place may make the likelihood of your dog getting lost higher. Microchipping will increase the chance of your dog being reunited with you if you do somehow get separated.
3. Entertain Your Dog to Avoid Boredom
Even if your dogs are used to road trips, you will still want them to be comfortable and entertained on the way. Pack a chew toy, food puzzle, and stuffed toy they can play or cuddle with. You could also turn on the radio for them. Keep any of the kids' holiday gifts away from your dog's reach to prevent a chewing disaster.
Remember to make frequent stops for potty breaks and play with your dog during your rest breaks so they get their daily mental stimulation and exercise. This will also ensure they’re tired and relaxed, meaning they won’t cause a fuss when confined in the car again.
4. Plan Out Your Entire Road Trip Route
Planning out your road trip route is a good idea if you want to schedule breaks in between attractions. A road trip schedule can also help you find dog parks and pet-friendly hotels and restaurants. Take note of pet stores, veterinarians, and daycare facilities, so you can stop by if necessary during your trip.
5. Do a Few Test Drives Before a Long Trip
If your dog isn’t used to staying in the car for longer than 10 minutes, take them on a test drive to see how they’ll react. Most dogs are fine being in an enclosed space for a short period but may get nervous after a half hour. Motion sickness is more common on prolonged trips.
Your dog's feeding time can also make a difference. It’s never a wise idea to feed your dog a meal and hop right into the car or drink more than their normal amount of water before a trip.
6. Choose a Pet-Friendly Hotel or Campsite
Unless you plan to sleep in your car the whole time, you’ll need to book a pet-friendly hotel that cares about your family's comfort. Keep in mind that pet-friendly accommodations book up quickly, so consider getting a room in advance. Use BringFido to find places to bring your dog.
7. Pack Well and Plan for the Unexpected
While you don’t have to pack everything for your dog, you should bring items that help them feel comfortable. Their pet food, treats, medications, food and water bowl, waste bags, and leash should be kept in your car. First aid kits, blankets, and pillows should be brought for comfort.
It’s also important to plan for the unexpected. For example, If your dog gets nauseous on car rides, consider purchasing tummy relaxers you can feed to your pup to prevent vomiting.
Returning Home to Your Routine:
Your pet may get extra excited about the car rides now that you're home. They likely became attached to the idea of being with you all of the time after days on the road together. Make getting home a little easier with fun playtime, treats and puzzle toys for when you have to leave them alone. You can also make the old routines seem fun and new with
When you return home, be sure to get custom-framed canvas prints of you and your dogs from your vacation so you’ll always remember your adventure!
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