Labor Day is just around the corner, which means one thing: It’s time to get in that last summer human/dog road trip! What’s better than an end-of-summer vacation with your best friend? Nothing, that’s what. We rounded up the best tips and tricks to make sure everyone has a great time—all you have to do is pick the destination. Happy t(r)ails!
Read on for great tips on taking a dog road trip.
Get outta town with these tips for a great dog road trip
The key to a successful dog road trip: being 100% prepared. Make sure you’ve got all your gear:
- Microchipped or not, your dog needs to wear a collar with tags at all times.
- Bring a leash! Your furry friend should always wear one when outside of the car, unless you’re at an off-leash dog park or playing a game of fetch.
- Pack food, bottled water, and daily medication—and spill-proof bowls to go with!
- Speaking of medication: Make a copy of your dog’s medical and vaccine records on the off-chance you have to make an emergency visit to your non-regular vet.
- Pack favorite toys and snacks to keep ‘em happy and occupied in the back seat.
- Bring along a crate, bed, or playpen for down time in the car, at a rest area, or in the hotel room, and a familiar-smelling blanket or stuffed animal for extra comfort.
- Remember recycled grocery bags for picking up waste, and paper towels and cleaner for any accidents or muddy feet—we suggest throwing down a ratty sheet just in case!
Safety (and health!) first
Car safety is paramount, and end-of-summer road trips often mean hot, hot heat, so be smart and stay cool.
- Have a dog who’s not quite sure about cars? Warm him up with a couple trips around the block starting a few weeks before your big adventure, and be sure to reward his act of bravery with a fun activity or yummy treat.
- Suffering from carsickness? Talk to your vet—there are meds for that!
- We know, we know: There’s nothing cuter than an adorable dog with his head stuck out the window, jowls flapping in the wind. But it’s important to put safety first. Consider investing in a dog seatbelt, crate, or barrier to keep your dog from being thrown around the back seat or crawling around the pedals. Dogs need to be safe and secure on the road just like humans do!
- Never ever leave your dog in a hot car—even if you’ve cracked the windows. It’s unsafe and could lead to sickness or even death.
- Stay hydrated. Keep a healthy stash of bottled water in your car, and give your dog ample opportunity to drink up.
- If your dog is hydrated (like he should be), he’s going to need bathroom breaks. Try to stop at a rest area every couple of hours: It’s not only a great place for your dog to relieve himself, but stretch his legs, too. Play a game of tug-of-war or toss the ball a few times to work in a little daily exercise and unleash any pent-up energy.
Most importantly: Have fun!
- Put together a puppy playlist and sing your heart out as you cruise down the highway. Might we suggest starting with Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” or Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over” to get you started? Or maybe your dog is more of a hip-hop hound—bump the bass to Snoop Dogg, and check out our post on the best five songs about dogs. Whatever the case, music will be your BFF during those not-so-exciting stretches.
- Plenty of cities are dog-friendly, and some establishments are even pro-dogs. That craft brewery you wanted to check out the night you’re stopping in Portland? Chances are they’ll have treats for your dog (and all the others) along with your brew. And if you’re swinging through Vermont on your tour de New England, pay a visit to Stephen Huneck’s Dog Mountain: There’s not only a Dog Chapel (!), but plenty of room to run around, and even a gallery. It’s dog heaven on earth.