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3 Tips for Traveling with Dogs On Long Car Rides, Plus a Little Extra Leave a comment

Long car rides… some folks love it, others would rather walk across country instead of drive! Same goes for your dog! 

Some dogs absolutely hate being in the car, others jump for joy when you say “ride”! Whether your pooch falls into the first or second category, these tips below will help make your long journey a whole lot smoother!

Long car rides...some dogs love them, some hate them. Whether your dog falls into the first or second category, these tips will make your journey smoother!
Photo Credit: Stacey St. Jean

Tips for Traveling with Dogs On Long Car Rides

We are really fortunate that our dog absolutely loves going in the car, honestly, he loves pretty much any activity where he can come along! As soon as we say “ride,” he’s jumping for his leash!

We spent several years traveling the country hauling various things (trailers, RVs and boats… lots and lots of boats!), it was a blast! We saw 46 states and our pup was along for the ride! He loved every minute of it!

Imagine that, a little eleven pound Westie Mix traveling from the beaches of Florida to wine country California through the mountains of Montana and across the desert in Arizona! We’ve even gone to Disney World with him! What a life this pooch has led! 

We spent about 10 hours a day on the road! We had a pretty good routine down for being efficient but also, taking care of ourselves and our dog! We made sure he got the exercise he needed and time for some fresh air too!

So, here I am to share our best tips on taking your little guy over the road, as they say!

Photo Credit: Stacey St. Jean

Sometimes, they hate it!

I will start by saying that some dogs absolutely hate being in the car! We have had a decent amount of friends say they can not bring their dog anywhere without them becoming super anxious about being in the car!

Some of our RV friends even have to leave their pup with family because taking them on the long trip from Florida up to Minnesota would be too traumatic for their pooch!

If this is your dog, and they truly are put in to an anxious fit over being in the car, personally, I would reconsider bringing them. Being in a situation that makes them this fearful is not the best for their health.

If you must go, consider a friend or family member who they are comfortable with to take care of them. And if you absolutely must take them, consider talking to your vet about ways that may make the trip a little less anxiety ridden for them. 

But, if your dog loves the car, like ours does, consider these things to make the trip even better for all of you!

Doggie Road Trip Tip #1: Have these handy items packed!

Collapsible Water Bowl

Sounds simple, right? But these are so handy! When you are traveling by car, space is limited! Having a bowl you can pop up and then fold flat is definitely convenient!

Dog Food and Treats

Even if you plan to be at your destination in just a few hours, make sure to pack extra food! You never know if you may get stuck in a traffic jam! And having some extra treats on hand never disappointed any pup. You can even try to have a little set up for your pup to be able to eat while riding, more on that soon! 

Wellness Soft Puppy Bites Natural Grain-Free Treats for Training, Dog Treats with Real Meat and DHA, No Artificial Flavors (Lamb & Salmon, 3-Ounce Bag)

Leash, Harness and Waste Bags

We always make sure to travel with a harness. It makes us feel much more secure when letting our pup out at rest areas and gas stations. There are other vehicles, people and other dogs all over the place.

Making sure your dog is in a harness will ensure they do not slip out of their collar near a busy roadway! And as for the waste bags, well, just don’t forget those!

rabbitgoo Dog Harness, No-Pull Pet Harness with 2 Leash Clips, Adjustable Soft Padded Dog Vest, Reflective No-Choke Pet Oxford Vest with Easy Control Handle for Large Dogs, Black, L

Your dog’s favorite toy or bone

Make sure to bring an item or two of your little guy’s favorite things. Maybe their favorite chew bone to be able to get some energy out or a favorite soft toy to lay with. Having something familiar will help ease some anxiety they may have. 

Original Snuggle Puppy Heartbeat Stuffed Toy for Dogs. Pet Anxiety Relief and Calming Aid, Comfort Toy for Behavioral Training in Biscuit

Proper Attire

Yes, even for the dog! Be mindful of the weather along your route and at your new destination. Are you traveling from sunny Florida to snowy New England for Christmas (we do this all the time!)? If the climate is changing, pack accordingly. Bring your dog their coat or sweater to make sure they are warm! 

Doggie Road Trip Tip #2: Create their own space! 

Photo Credit: Stacey St. Jean

So we used to travel across the country moving big things from one state to another, it was pretty cool! And our dog loved it too! He had a whole set up in the back seat! 

We actually had a wooden platform sitting on the back seat, so it was a solid backseat and he could not fall between the front and back seats. Then, we covered that with a thick moving blanket and put a few of his blankets on top of that.

We then made sure he had his favorite bones and toys nearby. Also, because the wooden platform was flat, his water and food bowls sat flat on it and did not spill. Honestly, he had a pretty fancy set up! Now, you may not need something this elaborate, however, making a comfy spot for your pup is important!

You can pile up some soft blankets and throw them some toys in the back seat. You may even be able to keep a small water dish in the corner of the seat, so it does not spill. Any comforts of home will be much appreciated by your little guy or gal!

Doggie Road Trip Tip #3: Take a look at your route!

This is real important for a few reasons. Whenever you take a road trip, with or without your pet, checking out your route is always a good idea! Having a general idea of where you are headed and what major roadways will take you there can help keep things running smoothly.

You never know if you may encounter a detour or traffic jam, knowing the route can help you pivot easier and with less stress. 

But how can it help even more with a pet? Well, we always like to know our longer stops ahead of time. Where will we have lunch or dinner? Will we have space to bring our pup for a comfortable walk?

We also got to know which gas stations had dogs parks along 95 traveling up and down the East coast. If the time of day worked out (we did not like taking him to dog parks in the dark…), we would try to make a point to stop at those stops so he could get a little extra exercise. He loved it! 

A Few Key Takeaways

Taking your little guy on a road trip is a lot of fun! We loved being able to spend all day, every day, with our dog by our side! He loved seeing the sites and taking it all in! 

Make sure to have some of your dog’s favorite things along for the ride! His favorite bone or chew toy will keep him occupied along the way. Giving him his favorite soft toy will make a great snuggle friend for those car ride naps too. 

Bring extra treats and food. You never know if you may get held up along the way and don’t want to run out of food for your pup! Or you for that matter! Pack an extra sandwich! 

Finding a safe, no spill spot for a collapsible water bowl is important! Traveling will dehydrate your dog, just like it will you! He or she will be much more comfortable along the way with good hydration. 

Blankets and a comfy spot to ride will keep your dog cozy and at ease for the trip! 

Going somewhere colder than where you came from? Bring your pooch’s coat! 

Plan out your route and look ahead for gas stations and rest stops with dog parks! They will love it! Hint: watch the roadside billboards!

Many dogs absolutely love the car! Grab the leash and harness and say “ride!” and they go beserk! At least ours does! But, if your dog gets nervous in the car, take extra care to bring things that make them comfortable.

And, if they show signs of real severe anxiety, such as shaking, heavy panting, or even vomiting, check with your vet for tips on how to make them most comfortable. 

And remember, enjoy the views and the quality time with your family and pup! We loved seeing 46 states of this beautiful country with our dog by our side! Memories to last a lifetime! 

Stacey St. Jean

Hey there! I’m Stacey! A writer here and, obviously, a dog lover! We rescued our Westie Mix in 2015 and he is the absolute perfect addition to our family! We are a tiny-living-fulltime-RV family! Our pup has actually been to 46 states! I love Disney, travel, camping, simple living and, my favorite part, sharing all of that with my fantastic husband, our spunky daughter and our beloved pup, Kubota!

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