Hitting the road? You’ve probably got a destination in mind and the route planned, but if you’re a dog owner, you can’t miss out on these ultimate tips for road tripping with a dog. They’ll keep both you and your pup safe and happy, so you can focus on having the trip of a lifetime!
Tips for Road Tripping with a Dog
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1. Get all your records up to date before heading on a road trip with your dog
When it comes to a road trip with your dog, always put safety first! Before heading out on the open road, make sure you have the following documents up to date and on-hand in case of any emergencies:
- Dog tags, with a current address and phone number.
- Vaccinations and vet records.
- A microchip, in case your pup gets lost.
2. Research dog-friendly places along your route ahead of time
There’s nothing worse than going on a long car ride with a dog only to arrive and find out that where you’ve gone doesn’t allow your furry friend to enter. Research ahead of time to make sure your hotel or accommodation accepts pets, and whether or not they charge a pet fee.
One great resource for this is Bring Fido. This site keeps track of hotels, restaurants, events, and more in over 100 countries (and all 50 states!) that are dog-friendly. For the best road trips with your dog, you can even read reviews from other pet owners to suss out exactly the right spots to hit.
3. Create a designated car space for your dog on a road trip - Tips for Road Tripping with a Dog
When you’re headed somewhere local with your pup, you might just have them sit shotgun for the convenience of it. But for a long car ride with a dog, you need to create a safe and designated space to keep them comfortable and secure for the journey. Here are some ideas:
- Use a dog seat belt to keep them in place (this is the #1 best-seller on Amazon)
- Keep your pup in a kennel in the back of the car
- Install a dog car hammock between the seats
- Use a backseat bridge extender for bigger dogs
- For small pups, use a doggie booster seat
4. Make a dog car organizer so nothing gets misplaced.
You’ve probably got all of your belongings sorted and packed to make everything easy to find, so why wouldn’t you do the same for your dog’s belongings? Don’t just throw their leash and toys in the car and hope you can find them later: repurpose an old toiletry bag, hang a tote bag over the back of the driver’s seat, or kill two birds with one stone with this barrier + organizer combo.
Remember to include:
- A leash and poop bags (this bag holder for a leash is super convenient and ensures you never forget a bag!)
- Their favorite toys and treats
- A small towel or rag to clean them off after walks and playtime
5. Don’t forget your dog's food & water
It might seem obvious, but this is one of the most important tips for road tripping with a dog: bring plenty of food so your pup never goes hungry! Of course you can buy more dog food while on the road, but it’s best to bring more than enough so that you don’t have to switch brands suddenly, which could upset your pup’s stomach.
Before the trip, measure out enough food for all their meals, plus a couple extra scoops. That way, in case you spill some or end up staying away longer, you’ll be covered. And don’t forget to also bring easy-to-store bowls; one for food and one for water.
Top-Rated Travel Dog Bowls on Amazon (click for link):
6. Don’t leave your dog in the car
If you only follow one of these tips for road tripping with a dog, let it be this one! I know it can be tough to accommodate your pup when on the road, but always put their safety first. Don’t leave your dog in the car for more than a few minutes, and keep a window cracked and ensure they’re in a safe, quiet area.
Need to leave your pup behind for longer? That’s totally fine, just arrange for necessary dog care. Many doggy daycares and kennels offer daily services, so you can drop your pup off for a day of exploring and just pick them up at the end of the day.
7. Be ready for anxiety and nerves - Tips for Road Tripping with a Dog
To experience the very best road trips with your dog, be ready for any anxiety or nervousness. Even if your pup normally isn’t very anxious, many dogs can feel on edge during long car rides, so be prepared. Here are a few options to keep your furry friend relaxed:
- Pressure wraps that feel like getting a big hug from their human (The Thundershirt Dog Anxiety Jacket is rated 4+ stars and has over 24,000 reviews)
- Chew toys to keep them entertained and distracted.
- Calming music to put them at ease.
- Frequent exercise breaks to burn off excess energy.
- CDB treats (works great for my dog!) or calming chews
8. Give your pup something to do during a road trip
Not only will a fun toy keep your dog calm, it’ll also keep them from getting into trouble while they’re lounging in the backseat and you’re trying to navigate unfamiliar territory. The best bet is to bring your dog’s favorite toys, but I recommend against anything too squeaky—trust me, after 10 minutes, you’ll be ready to throw that loud toy out the window!
Here are some popular dog road trip essentials when it comes to toys:
- Quiet plush chew toys
- Stuffed Kong toys
- Doggy puzzle toys
9. Take regular breaks
Not just for exercise, but so that your pup can use the bathroom, drink some water, and just enjoy the fresh air. And while this may seem purely like one of those tips for road tripping with a dog that just benefits your pup, I bet you’ll enjoy the breaks from driving just as much.
A good rule of thumb? Take 10-30 minutes every 2-3 hours of driving. Stretch your legs, walk your pup, and make sure they get enough water, food, and exercise throughout.
10. Find dog parks en route
Of course, you can always just stop at rest stops and gas stations, but especially for a long car ride with a dog you should try to find at least one stop where your pup can really stretch their legs and run around. Dog parks are your best bet because you can let them off-leash and socialize with other pups.
To make things easy, use the Dog Friendly off-leash dog park guide. They’ve got a comprehensive map of the entire US and Canada with a variety of dog park options for when you’re on the go.
11. Road Trip Tip: Maintain your dog's routine as much as possible
It can be tough to stick to a strict schedule when you’re on the road, but as best as you can, try to maintain your pup’s daily routine. Take roughly the same amount of walks, feed them close to their normal meal times, and give them just as much love and attention as they get at home.
Road tripping with a dog can be such a blast—you’ve got a built-in furry friend for all your grandest adventures! And by following these tips, you can ensure both you and your pup have the road trip of a lifetime. To make it easier, I added all the products listed in this post to this list on Amazon.
Where have you road-tripped with your dog? Have any extra tips you think I should add to this list? Leave a comment below or send me a DM on Instagram!
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One thought on “11 Tips for Road Tripping with a Dog”
When it comes to traveling with dogs, I’ve learned everyone has a different experience. For dogs that tend to be more skittish, more preparation will be required to ensure that they are as comfortable during the trip as possible.