Planning on a Road Trip With the Dog(s)? By Robert McLaughlin, Award Winning Professional Dog Trainer and Educator

road trip with your dogFirst things first, I always train my dog to enjoy car rides. Some dogs have anxiety when you are putting them in the car and contrary to belief the only way to get dogs over their fears is to expose them to the things that they have an issue with little by little. If my dog is car sick, I train the dog to just hop into their crate in the car and then treat them heavily upon entering. I then let them out very soon after, rinse, wash, repeat, do things multiple times a day weeks or even months before your trip. Make sure you are consistent and when the dog looks forward to getting into the car begin to take them places they will enjoy! NOT ONLY TO THE VET OR TO BOARDING! Dogs need to have many more positive experiences to associate with getting into the car. Dogs who only get in cars to go to veterinarians usually have issues with car rides.

Next, I always make sure to pack a bag strictly for my dog. The bag has their individually bagged meals for easy and quick access, training treats, training toys, poop bags, extra leash, first aid kit. I put it by the door along with all of my other bags, but it always is put as the last bag to get loaded up. The bag gets packed last, right before I bring my dog out to the car. Always with the car on, windows down and/ or AC on depending on the weather. The dog should always be loaded in last so that you can fit everything in the way you need. Remember the dog must go into a SAFE crate (not a wired crate they are not safe for the unexpected accident that may happen- TRUST ME I have first handed experience with this). I always purchase at least one gallon of water and bring a collapsible bowl on the road with me. With puppies, I usually pull over every half of an hour to allow them to pee and or poop. UNLESS THEY ARE SLEEPING! KEEP GOING AS LONG AS THEY ARE ASLEEP! But as soon as they wake up they should go. Puppies have smaller intestines and no bladder control. With a puppy we tend to want to hold them in the car, again, not safe. Before you transport any dog to any place you should have the proper equipment. The same as you would to prepare for a human child. It is never a good idea to just “wing it” or “go with the flow”.

preparing for a road trip with your dog

When dealing with dogs or more specifically training dogs it is always best to have a plan and to be aware of possible things that could go wrong. Most of the times in my career field of dealing with dogs across the emotional issues side, things tend to go wrong. When it comes to poop bags have some stored in each door of the car. Depending on the length of the travels I stop every 30 minutes for potty breaks, maybe even a little training session. I feed the dog every 8 hours and wait about 20 minutes for them to go to the bathroom before moving forward. I water the dog about every 4 hours, the more the dog is under stress the more they will want to drink. Meaning they will also need to pee often the more that they drink. Ignoring the dog is best on the ride so that they can settle in, it is extremely hard to do that without a crate. Never take a road trip with a dog and not know if your hotel is dog friendly already. Check on bringfido.com possibly. If your dog is really not good in car rides, do not take them. Find a reputable and well-reviewed, well know boarding facility that DOES crate your dog. I like to avoid any possibilities of any incidents between dogs due to an unfortunate pairing of personalities that just don’t fit well together in certain dogs.

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