If you’re thinking of heading out on a cross-country road trip and you want to bring your canine best friend along, there are several things you should do to prepare before you and your dog hit the open road. Here are some helpful tips to ensure that you and your pup both enjoy the ride.
Check with your vet
Take your dog to see the vet to make sure that he or she is healthy enough to travel safely. Talk to your vet if your dog gets anxious or carsick – they might be able to prescribe something that can help alleviate stress or nausea. Also be sure that you take any medications your dog is on with you on the trip and you have more than you need in case you get delayed in your travels. Finally, ask for a copy of your dog’s vaccination records, in case you need to board your dog at any point along the way.
When you are planning your trip, look for pet friendly hotels or accommodations that will welcome both you and your dog. Also, create a list of emergency vets near your final destination or along your route in case of a medical emergency. Have a current photo of your dog, make sure they are wearing ID tags (you may want a temporary travel ID that includes your destination) and a collar, and if they are microchipped, be sure your microchip information is up to date.
Ensure your dog is safe and secure in your vehicle so that they can’t hang out the window, jump into your lap when you’re driving, and are protected in the event of an accident. Ideally, your dog should be in the backseat (or the back area of an SUV) either securely within a crate, or using a doggie seatbelt, a barrier, a backseat sling or car seat. Always leash your dog when getting out at rest stops, and avoid letting your dog out of the car at busy gas stations or other areas right on the highway. Also remember to never leave your dog alone in the car – especially if the weather is hot.
Practice makes perfect
If you’ve never taken your dog out in the car before, it’s a bad idea to start with a long journey. Slowly introduce your dog to the car when it is off and parked, then, when he is comfortable sitting in his safe spot inside, take him for a short ride around the block. Gradually increase the length of your drives, praising your dog and rewarding him for calm, quiet and relaxed behavior. Once you’ve spent some time practicing, you should get a good feel if your dog would be comfortable going on an extended road trip.
Right before you leave
Before you leave on your travels, take your dog on a long walk or some other exercise to tire them out. This will help ensure they are calm during your trip. Make sure they have plenty of water, but don’t feed them right before you leave or during the trip, as riding in a car may upset your dog’s stomach.
During the trip
Make frequent stops (vets recommend every 2-3 hours) to give your dog a chance to exercise, pee/poop, and drink water. Bring bottles or jugs of water for your pup (and a portable water dish), as well as their favorite blanket, some toys to keep them entertained, treats, and some clean-up supplies in case your dog gets muddy or has an accident.
It takes a little planning and preparation, but if you love road trips, they’ll be even better when you bring your best friend along for the ride. Also, if you find yourself drawn to life on the road, consider making a career out of it. J-Tech Institute offers an awesome Commercial Truck Driving Program to put you on the path to a rewarding career, as well as other programs in automotive technology, diesel technology and marine and RV technology for all you gearheads out there. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a consultation with our admissions department.