Ah, summer. The kids are out of school, the pool and beach are calling, and everyone’s excited to pile in the car for a fun road trip. But instead of leaving Fido at home this year or kenneling him, why not take him along? After all, 37% of owners like to bring their four-legged pal on the road. Whether it’s your first time hitting the road with a canine companion or you’re an old pro, here are some tips for summer car travel with your dog.
1. Pack the Necessities
Before you travel with your dog, make a detailed list of exactly what you’ll need to pack so Fido also enjoys the trip. Some good necessities include:
· A leash and a collar (especially a collar with an ID tag since you don’t want your dog getting lost away from home)
· Food and treats, plus bowls for when you need to give your dog his meals and water
· Extra blankets so your dog is comfortable in the car
· Old towels in case the weather turns wet and Fido explores a muddy rest stop
· A dog first aid kit
Another necessity you shouldn’t forget is poop bags and The Fifth Paw! Your dog is going to be smelling lots of interesting new spots and will want to mark his territory (not to mention do his business). You might have to stop somewhere that doesn’t have a lot of trash cans or walking areas. Not a problem when you have The Fifth Paw. Just place The Fifth Paw on the leash and attach the full poop bag, then easily dispose of Fido’s business once you find a trash can. The Fifth Paw is also great for when you get to your destination. You can walk Fido and enjoy your new surroundings without having to carry a smelly poop bag.
2. Figure Out the Car Situation
Don’t you just love watching your dog stick her head out of the window while the car’s in motion? That’s okay when you’re just going for a quick drive to the vet or the pet store but it’s not a good idea to have a free-roaming dog in the car during a long road trip. Fido could get seriously hurt during an accident and even be the cause of an accident because you’re so distracted by his cuteness, which is why small to medium-size dogs should be put in crates while traveling in the car. Be sure to choose a crate that allows your dog space to stand and turn around but not so much room that he’ll slide around while the car’s moving. The crate should also be well-ventilated and structurally sound.
If your dog’s too big for a crate, a harness or a barrier is a great idea. Look for a harness that is fastened to a seat safety belt (these can be found online and in pet stores). Harnesses provide your dog with some freedom, but restrain him if an accident occurs. Also be sure to buy a harness that’s specifically designed to be used with safety belts.
Barriers are another effective way to safely restrain your dog. In fact, they’re perfect for securing a dog in an open area of a larger car, such as a van, or in the back of a wagon or SUV. Be careful when shopping for a barrier, however. Double check that the barrier you select can be securely attached to the interior framework of your vehicle, and that it’s rated to restrain the weight of your dog in an accident.
3. Stop More Than Usual
It can be tempting to power through on a road trip and only stop when absolutely necessary. While that’s fine for us humans, dogs need more breaks, especially since they’re not used to being in a car for long periods of time. Plan and prepare to make frequent stops, the same way you would if you had children in the car (and if you are bringing small children along, then you’re killing two birds with one stone).
Frequent stops mean your dog will have plenty of chances to relieve himself (you really don’t want a bathroom accident happening in the car, do you?) and burn off the pent-up energy that comes along with spending hours in a crate or a harness. Just be sure to keep your dog’s collar on at all times in case he tries to make a run for it while exiting the car during a pit stop.
4. Don’t Leave Your Dog in the Car
The summer months are hot ones, so when you do stop, be sure not to leave your dog in the car when the sun is high in the sky. Cracking the windows is not an option, either, as cars can heat up quickly and dogs can easily become overheated.
5. Visit Pet Friendly Businesses
Things have changed when it comes to traveling with our pets and there are so many places where dogs are now allowed. Before hitting the road, look up dog parks, restaurants, and beaches where you can stop with your dog to make road travel more enjoyable for Fido and for you.
Taking a road trip with your favorite four-legged pal doesn’t have to a hassle, especially if you follow these tips. Above all else, remember to be flexible because summer car travel with your dog is certainly an adventure!