Traveling with a dog can be a great adventure for both you and your trusty canine. Now that you have a new puppy in the home, you want to take him on epic road trips and travel the world. But, there are a few things to consider and prepare for prior to your epic dog-friendly road trip. In this article I will help you and your puppy get off to a good start traveling in a car.
- Active puppy socialization prior to your trip is essential. When you brought your puppy home, hopefully, you were off and running on properly socializing your puppy. This is key in raising a happy, confident, and well-adjusted dog. If you are unsure what this entails, click here to get started.
- Preparing for puppy carsickness. Unfortunately, puppies are notorious for getting carsick. A puppy’s ear structure is still developing and can contribute to motion sickness. Motion affects the vestibular system in the inner ear which controls a puppy’s balance and spatial orientation. When this is out of balance, it triggers the part of the brain that is connected to vomiting. Hence, a drooling or vomiting puppy.
To help prevent carsickness in puppies, you can slowly acclimate your new puppy to the car with daily short car rides around the block and other fun, short outings. Motion sickness can increase when a dog looks out the window, so ensure your new puppy is secured in a car harness or crate in the backseat that has limited access to the windows. Dogs and small children should not ride in the front seat due to the fact that if the air bags deploy, it can be very dangerous. Not only will you help reduce the risk of motion sickness, you will also be ensuring your puppy cannot jump out of the car. I would encourage you to visit The Center for Pet Safety and view their crashworthiness dog harnesses and crates. Unfortunately, most restraints have not taken or passed a crash test.
- Pack the right travel gear for your puppy. When and where you are going will determine what you should pack for your dog-friendly road trip. A few must haves include your dog’s veterinarian records, current photo of your dog, your puppy’s food, bowls, treats, water, poop bags, pet first aid kit, towels, toys, dog chews, and an extra harness and leash. Depending on the weather, you might want to take a cooling bed, travel fan, cooling jacket, winter or rain jacket, dog sweater, dog boots and a dog hat. Make sure your puppy has his well-fitted harness and leash on at all times when traveling. Double-check that the harness cannot slip off and his leash is not chewed.,
- Schedule low-key and quiet road trips first. When teaching your new puppy to be a great travel companion, set up day or weekend adventures that are low-key and not too far from home. It’s best to ease your dog into traveling in the car, new environments, and staying in an unfamiliar location. Look for destinations that aren’t extremely touristy, or are off-season to ensure your puppy has plenty of space during his investigation vs. Time Square during New Year’s Eve. 😉
- Tire your puppy out before you hit the road. Plan a nice long walk and play session followed by a nice puppy poop before you and your pup jump into the car. An ideal situation is when your puppy sleeps in the car while you drive.
- Take frequent potty breaks and stretches. If you are traveling for more than a couple of hours, you’ll want to get out and stretch your legs and your puppy’s legs and allow him to potty. Look for well-lighted travel plazas. Park close to the building and pay attention to your surroundings.
- Your puppy’s emotions and needs should come first. If you truly want to teach your puppy that road trips and dog-friendly vacations are something to look forward to, you will need to be aware of his feelings and needs above what you want to see and do. If you thought a nice walk in downtown Chicago was going to be fun for him and instead, he seemed a bit stressed, take a step back. Grab a map or ask a local to recommend something that you and your puppy can do that is a bit more quiet. This is the time you truly want to make sure your puppy isn’t stressed and is enjoying himself.
- Don’t be a weekend warrior. Rest! Traveling is exhausting for both people and puppies. Plan some fun dog-friendly activities, but plan some downtime, too. Hanging out people watching at the park or even a nice puppy nap at the hotel is a must for a well-rested puppy.
If you follow these eight steps, you and your puppy will be off and running to your next dog-friendly travel destination.