Road tripping with your dog can be as exciting as it is stressful, especially when they become restless on longer trips or if they’re just becoming acquainted with car rides. As we approach warmer weather, many of us are considering road trips to experience the outdoors with our furry friends. Here are 10 things I do to ensure success with my two-and-a-half-year-old terrier on road trips through BC.
Take Practice Trips
If this is your first road trip with your dog, take short practice trips in the neighbourhood that ends with a reward for them. Taking a 10-minute drive to a dog park or to the pet store where your dog can pick out a new treat will help them associate the car with fun experiences.
Create a Dedicated Space for Your Dog
Install a soft mesh panel in the space between the two front seats to provide your dog with a dedicated space in the back of the car to hang out. This barrier also minimizes distractions by preventing your dog from moving between the two spaces and jumping into the front seats while on the highway.
Make Their Seat Comfy
Give your dog a comfortable space to rest in by providing them with a soft car seat. This allows smaller dogs to look out the window without having to jump. Take care to keep their head from hanging out the window in case of flying debris that could injure them.
Strap Them In
Tether your dog to the backseat with a well-fitted seatbelt to ensure their safety. A well-fitted seatbelt has clips that are secure and prevent your pet from coming loose in the event of sudden and high impact. Clip the seatbelt to a body harness instead of a regular neck collar on your dog, as this helps to evenly distribute pressure in the event of an accident, and prevents their delicate neck area from absorbing all of the shock.
Keep a steady supply of water in your car for your dog to keep hydrated. This stainless steel bottle by Kong keeps water cool and the lid doubles as a drinking bowl, which makes it easy to offer your dog water in the car, on the trails and at rest stops. For pets travelling in crates, you can freeze small amounts of water in an anti-slip bowl and place it with them to minimize spillage. Your dog can sip as it melts.
Line the seats with a blanket so your dog has something soft to lay on, especially for longer drives. This also helps keep your car free of dog slobber, dirt, general shedding and claw marks. Plus, having a favourite blanket helps anxious dogs to feel calmer.
Plan Consistent Breaks
Help your dog feel more comfortable on long road trips by planning rest stops every two to three hours. Being able to use the bathroom and regularly stretch their legs can help them feel refreshed. To help burn off some energy and encourage them to nap for a portion of the ride, search for dog parks along your route.
Pack Frozen Treats
To help keep your dog occupied, prepare a frozen treat like yogurt or peanut butter in a Kong. Keeping them engaged means they're less likely to chew on seatbelts or other upholstery in the car.
Bring Their Crate
For particularly anxious dogs, pet parents can consider bringing along their crate, as they often find comfort in a familiar and confined space. Larger crates should be secured in the back of the car instead of jammed between backpacks and other items. To give them even more comfort, you can cover the crate with a blanket.
Bring Toys for In and Out of the Car
Providing your dog with some puzzle games in the car will keep them mentally stimulated and focused on the game. Puzzle games instead of squeaky toys work well because they create minimal noise and less distraction for the driver. As well, bring along a ball or frisbee for breaks at rest stops to encourage your dog to move their legs. While frisbees and balls are ideal for stops where there’s lots of space, a tug of war toy works just as well in wearing them out physically and mentally if you find you’re limited to a big parking lot.