black labs / Dogs / road trip

Tips for Making a Road Trip with Your Dog(s)

u13062089Its that time of year!  Everyone is either thinking about, planning, or about to embark on a vacation trip of some kind.  A lot of people are about to head out on road trips to grandma’s, the beach, the mountains, taking a day or two or even longer!  AND a lot of people are taking their dogs with them.

I have made quite a few road trips with Clover, and then with both Clover and Cosmo in tow.  Clover has crossed the Irish Sea in a ferry a couple of times, stayed at a dog friendly castle in Scotland (twice), and that doesn’t include the air miles earned on Delta.  Cosmo has become a very good traveler, too.   His first road trip to Florida was made when he was only a few months old, and he’s been game for a road trip ever since.

For someone that hasn’t traveled with their dog(s) before, it can seem like a logistical nightmare of what to do, how to do it, where to go, etc.  Here are a couple of pointers that I have found helpful over the years.  I hope they help, and in  no particular order of importance:

  • Take two sets of keys to your car, that way if you have to leave the a/c running while making a pit stop you can still lock the door and keep the windows closed thus keeping the dogs safe.
  • I don’t stop at highway rest stops unless you I have no other choice.  I have found many of them to very dirty and poop-filled.  I prefer to get off the highway and stop at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant.  They almost always have great green areas (bring your own poop bags) for walking the dogs, they are always busy with lots of people around (for safety), and they don’t mind if you go in and use their bathrooms either.
  • Tire them out big time the day before the trip, and a good walk before getting in the car.  Sleeping dogs don’t whine and complain that they’re bored.
  • Check online for dog parks that might be along your travel route. I am in Virginia and my parents are about 900 miles away in Florida.  I found a great dog park that my dogs love and if I time it right, I can visit there and enjoy an hour or two with the dogs while they get some exercise.
  • “No pets” doesn’t always mean no pets allowed.  We stopped at a hotel in England once that had a huge sign at the front desk that said “No PETS ALLOWED.”  It was pouring rain and we were exhausted and I didn’t want to keep looking for a hotel …. I offered to leave a deposit of 100 pounds .. the manager came out and met Clover (and me and my mom) and said, “No problem” and didn’t charge me for the dog or take the deposit.  Ask.
  • I leave my dogs in the back seat with a net barrier between us.  I also keep their leashes on when they’re in the car as its much easier to grab the dogs for getting in and out of the vehicle without fumbling to put their leashes on.
  • If you have treats or food in the car during the trip, keep it well sealed and out of their reach. Cosmo once quietly nibbled holes in a bag of dry dog food. He at about 3 cups of the food before I realized it.
  • My dogs get very excited when they see the suitcase come out, so I try to pack at the very last minute so they don’t get all worked up.
  • Make sure to take current photos of your pets with you (printed out, not just on your cellphone) along with their shot records from the vets. Make sure you have tags on your dogs with your cell phone number, just in case. Mine have tags from Va with my contact info, and they have a tag with my Parents contact info in Florida.
  • If you have a travel crate, bring it along if you can. I have found it very helpful to have the crate along as Cosmo will pace all night long in a strange hotel room.  If I use the crate, he will settle down and relax.
  • Don’t forget the water bowl, and some extra water for the dogs!

Hope some of these tips help.  Please feel free to leave a comment with any additional tips, too.


2 thoughts on “Tips for Making a Road Trip with Your Dog(s)

  1. Great travel tips. Thanks! I’m sure the air-conditioning idea may be a bit controversial, but it’s one I never thought of and a great idea for very short skips away from the car. However–I would still leave the windows open just a little in case the AC should fail.


  2. Thanks for your comment. I can’t imagine why leaving he a/c on for your dogs would be controversial in anyway. Unless there’s some law that I don’t know about! Besides, I can make a pit stop in under 3 minutes, so they’re not left unattended very long.


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