Tips & Tricks

11 Road Trips Tips with Your Dog for a Smooth Ride

cute dog laying trunk scaled

Whether you’re crossing state lines or just cruising for fun, a road trip with your dog is a recipe for tail-wagging memories. From new sniffs to exciting sights (and maybe even a sneaky treat!), there’s tons to look forward to. But before you hit the gas, a little prep goes a long way. This guide will help you navigate your journey like a pro, ensuring a smooth ride for both you and your pup.

So, grab your pup’s favourite travel blanket (and maybe a drool rag!), and let’s dive into the world of canine-friendly road trips!

1. Plan Your Route with Precision

When preparing for a long journey with your furry friend, thorough route planning is essential. It’s not just about you anymore – you’ve got a four-legged co-pilot to consider! Here are some key things to think about:

– Frequent Stops: Plan for regular potty breaks and stretching sessions. Your dog will appreciate the chance to stretch their legs and relieve themselves every few hours.

man enjoying some quality time with his dog puppy

– Rest and Rejuvenation: Don’t forget about your own needs! Driving while exhausted is dangerous for everyone on the road. Map out potential overnight stops if your trip spans multiple days.

– Pet-Friendly Pit Stops: Research and include pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, dog parks, and rest areas along your route. This will make it easier to find suitable spots for breaks and overnight stays.

elderly person spendng tim with their pets

– Scenic Detours: Consider incorporating some pet-friendly hikes or attractions along the way. It’s a great opportunity for both of you to explore new environments and get some exercise.

Pro Tip: Check out online resources for lists of top pet-friendly hikes in each state. These can be perfect spots to stretch your legs and let your pup burn off some energy during your journey.

woman her dog having good time

2. Pack Smart

Packing for a road trip with your dog requires some extra thought and preparation. Here’s a comprehensive list of dog-specific items you shouldn’t leave home without:

– Comfort Items: Pack your dog’s favourite toys, treats, and bedding to help them feel at home on the road.

– Dining Essentials: Bring collapsible food and water bowls for easy storage and use.

– Hydration and Nutrition: Pack plenty of fresh water and enough dog food for the entire trip, plus a little extra in case of delays.

dog kong toys

– Clean-Up Supplies: Don’t forget waste bags and wipes for those inevitable messes.

– Entertainment: Pack some chews or interactive toys to keep your pup occupied during long stretches in the car.

– Safety Gear: Include a sturdy leash and collar with attached ID tags.

– Water Safety: If your plans include water activities, bring a doggy life jacket.

boat oars man dog water paddle

– First-Aid Kit: Pack a kit suitable for both human and canine emergencies.

-Medications (if applicable): If your dog takes any daily medications, be sure to pack enough for the entire trip.

Pro Tip: Always keep an extra leash handy. You never know when you might need a backup!

human s hand dog s paw handshake

3. Check with Your Vet

Before starting your adventure, it’s crucial to consult with your veterinarian. This step ensures your dog is physically and mentally ready for the journey ahead. Here’s what you should discuss:

– Health Check: Have your vet perform a thorough examination to confirm that your dog is fit for travel.

dog vet consultation

– Anxiety Concerns: If your dog tends to get anxious in new environments or during car rides, discuss potential solutions with your vet. They may recommend behavioural strategies or even medication to help keep your pup calm and comfortable.

– Medical Conditions: If your dog has any existing health issues, make sure to get specific advice on managing these conditions during your trip.

– Travel Recommendations: Your vet might have additional tips or modifications to suggest based on your dog’s individual needs, ensuring you both get the most enjoyment out of your travels together.

high angle owner feeding dog

4. Update Vaccinations and Microchip Information

While you’re at the vet’s office, it’s the perfect time to ensure all your dog’s preventative care is up to date:

– Vaccinations: Confirm that your dog is current on all necessary vaccines. This is especially important if you’ll be crossing state lines or visiting areas with different health risks.

– Microchip Check: Have your vet scan your dog’s microchip to ensure it’s functioning correctly. If your dog isn’t microchipped yet, consider getting this done before your trip.

– Medical Records: Request a copy of your dog’s medical records to bring along on your journey. This can be invaluable if you need to visit a vet while on the road.

a veterinarian checking a sick dog using a stethoscope

5. Update Your Dog’s ID Tags

Before hitting the road, make sure your dog’s identification is current and easily readable. Here’s what you should include:

– Your Dog’s Name

– Your Name

– Your Cell Phone Number

These tags should be worn at all times during your trip. In the unfortunate event that you and your pup get separated, these tags could be the key to a quick reunion.

Additional Tips:

– Rabies Tag: Include your dog’s rabies vaccination tag alongside their ID. This proves they’re up to date on this crucial vaccine.

– Temporary Tags: If you’re camping, consider adding a temporary paper tag with your campsite number.

cute english cocker spaniel puppy hands owner autumn park

6. Keep Your Dog Entertained on the Road

Long car rides can be monotonous for dogs, just as they can be for humans. Here are some strategies to keep your pup engaged and content:

– Regular Breaks: Research parks or walking trails along your route for exercise and exploration opportunities.

– Mental Stimulation: Pack some interactive puzzle toys or treat-dispensing toys to keep your dog’s mind active during downtimes.

– Comfort Items: Bring familiar toys or blankets to provide a sense of security in new environments.

– Window Views: If safe and possible, allow your dog to enjoy the changing scenery (but never let them stick their head out of a moving vehicle).

full shot woman with cute chihuahua dog 1

7. Prioritize Safety on the Road

When it comes to travelling with your dog, safety should always be your top priority. Here are some essential safety measures to implement:

– Secure Travel Crate: For long trips, a sturdy, well-ventilated travel crate is the safest option for your dog. Avoid wire crates, as they’re not designed for car travel.

– Alternatives for Shorter Trips: For briefer journeys, consider a specially designed dog car seat or a secure harness that attaches to the seat belt.

– No Free Roaming: Never let your dog travel unrestrained in the vehicle. This is dangerous for both your pet and other passengers.

– Climate Control: Before loading your dog into the car, ensure the interior temperature is comfortable. Don’t leave your dog waiting in a too-hot or too-cold vehicle while you finish packing.

dog car ride

8. Start Small: Practice with Shorter Trips

Before setting off on a big cross-country adventure, it’s a good idea to start with shorter trips to get your dog used to travelling by car. Here’s a suggested plan:

– Afternoon Adventure: Begin with a trip just a few hours away to a dog-friendly location. Enjoy some outdoor time together, have dinner, and return home the same day.

– Overnight Excursion: If the day trip goes well, try an overnight stay at a pet-friendly hotel or campground.

– Weekend Getaway: Gradually increase the duration of your trips, working up to a full weekend away.

This gradual approach helps your dog build positive associations with car travel and new experiences.

beautiful border collie dog havin fun outside

9. Practice the Callback

Before letting your dog off-leash at rest stops or dog parks during your trip, it’s crucial to have a reliable recall command. Here’s how to practice:

– Start at Home: Begin in a calm, familiar environment with minimal distractions.

– Use Their Name: Say your dog’s name to get their attention.

woman sitting home sofa with her dog

– Give the Command: As soon as they look at you, say “come” and start moving away.

– Reward Generously: When they reach you, offer plenty of praise and a tasty treat.

– Increase Difficulty: Gradually practice in more distracting environments, like your local park.

Remember, a strong recall can be a lifesaver if your dog ever slips out of the car or hotel room during your travels.

samoyed wearing kimono costume on park

10. Teach Your Dog to “Settle”

This command can be incredibly useful when dining outdoors or relaxing in pet-friendly accommodations. Here’s how to train it:

– Use a Portable Mat: Start with a mat or blanket you can easily bring on your trip.

– Lure and Reward: Guide your dog onto the mat, saying “yes” and offering a treat when they step on it.

– Add the Command: Once they consistently choose to go to the mat, introduce the word “settle” just before they lie down.

– Practice Regularly: Spend a few minutes each day reinforcing this behaviour.

When dining out during your trip, bring your dog’s mat, some water, and a long-lasting chew to keep them contentedly settled while you enjoy your meal.

closeup shot panting border collie standing field

11. Bonus Tip: Dealing with Motion Sickness

If your dog is prone to car sickness, don’t let it derail your plans. Try these strategies:

– Frequent Stops: Take breaks every few hours for fresh air and brief walks.

– Feeding Schedule: Time meals for when you’ll be stopped for a while, allowing for digestion before hitting the road again.

– Consult Your Vet: They may recommend over-the-counter or prescription remedies to ease nausea.

– Consider Alternatives: If car sickness is severe, you might opt for shorter trips or even a “staycation” at a local pet-friendly hotel.

girl feeding her dog treat

Final Words

With a little planning and these 11 road trip tips, you and your canine companion can experience a smooth and enjoyable journey. So, buckle up, grab your pup’s favourite travel gear, and get ready to create lasting memories on the open road!

The Loobani Pet Blog is all about helping pet parents enhance their pups’ health. To learn more about our top-notch dog puzzle toys, visit Our clever designs make snack time fun and enriching, giving dogs the mental and physical exercise they need. We strive to provide plenty of enrichment for our furry friends so they can enjoy their healthiest, happiest lives.


About Zelda D.Nelson

As a lifelong dog lover and proud mom to two energetic rescue pups, I know firsthand how important puzzle toys are for providing dogs with much-needed mental and physical stimulation. After over a decade of experience raising well-adjusted, happy dogs, I joined the Loobani Pet team to help other pet parents discover the joy and benefits of dog puzzles. Through my work at Loobani Pet, I've become an expert on the ins and outs of various interactive dog toys. My goal is to simplify the selection process so you can easily pinpoint the perfect puzzles to match your pup's needs and lifestyle. Whether you need a toy to challenge your brainy breed, keep your power chewer occupied, or simply provide some rainy day fun, I've got you covered.