Road Trip Ready: 4 Essential Tips for Traveling with Your Dog

Hitting the open road with your furry best friend is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It can be a delightful adventure that brings you unparalleled joy.

Sixty percent of travelers worldwide bring their pets on their trips. On the other hand, each year, 75% of Americans hit the road with their pets. About 25 million dog owners take their dogs with them during vacations in pet-friendly hotels. Additionally, Google Trends data from 2021 to 2023 also shows a steady increase in searches for “dog-friendly road trips,” further emphasizing this trend.

However, making sure your dog is comfortable and protected during a road trip requires careful planning. Without adequate preparation, those dreams of tail-wagging road trip bliss can quickly turn stressful. Let’s make sure your dog’s journey is as safe and enjoyable as yours!

Here are four useful tips to help make your trips with your dog safe, comfortable, and enjoyable.

Tip 1: The Pre-Trip Preparation

Packing for your dog is as important, if not more so, than packing for yourself. Remember to bring along essentials such as food, water, toys, and bedding to keep your dog comfortable throughout the trip. 

Create a dog travel kit with food, water, bowls, bedding, toys, waste bags, and first-aid supplies. Ensure you have up-to-date vaccination records and pet identification. Dog-safe cleaning supplies will also be beneficial for any accidents. If traveling to a new climate or terrain, consider gear like a towel for muddy paws or a tick remover.

Before you depart, visit the vet to ensure that your dog has received all the required vaccinations and is in proper condition for travel. Ask your vet about medication if your dog gets anxious or suffers from motion sickness during car rides. Finally, even if it has already been microchipped, double-check that the contact information associated with the chip is current.

Finally, look into dog-friendly motels, campsites, or vacation rentals along your route. This allows you to plan stops for potty breaks, exercise, and meals, keeping your pup comfortable and avoiding accidents. Many pet owners face challenges finding suitable accommodations on the road. 

According to WagWalking, about 48% of pet owners experienced difficulty finding pet-friendly hotels during their travels. This is even though 75% of American hotels, including high-end, mid-range, and low-end ones, allow pets. This highlights the importance of pre-booking accommodations that welcome your furry friend.

Tip 2: Safe and Comfortable Car Setup

Safety should be a top priority when traveling with your dog in the car. Select the appropriate travel method based on your dog’s size and preferences. 

A well-ventilated crate provides containment in case of sudden stops, while a dog seatbelt harness offers more freedom. Invest in a quality harness or crate to confine your dog during the journey. This prevents them from distracting the driver. Whichever you pick, include a comfy bed and their favorite toy to ease travel anxiety. 

Remember to take frequent breaks to allow your dog to unwind, relieve themselves, and feel refreshed.

Many pet owners wonder: Is it safe for dogs to sit in the front seat?

Safety experts generally advise against this, as airbags or sudden stops can be dangerous for dogs. It’s safer for dogs to ride in the back seat or cargo area, secured with a crate or harness.

Unsecured pets pose a serious safety hazard to themselves and drivers. According to Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro, of the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society (VECCS), unconfined pets loose in a car possess the same risk factor as talking on your cell phone. Another study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that an unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at 30 mph (48.28 km/h) exerts a force of 300 pounds (136.08 kg). 

This highlights the dangers of pets distracting the driver, a significant risk factor for accidents.

Tip 3: Keep Your Dog Entertained and Comfortable During the Ride

Make sure your dog has a comfortable spot in the car where they can relax during the trip. Bring their favorite toys or puzzle feeders to keep them entertained during the ride. 

Furthermore, pack some familiar toys and treats to reduce anxiety and make your pup feel at home. Consider using calming aids such as sprays or pheromone diffusers in cases of extreme anxiety to help keep them calm and relaxed. Schedule frequent stops every 2–3 hours. Let your dog stretch their legs, do their business, and rehydrate.

Bring a leash, waste bags, and a portable water bowl. Picking up dog waste is crucial to maintaining cleanliness and respecting local laws during your road trip stops. Always carry biodegradable bags for dog waste removal and dispose of waste responsibly in designated receptacles or trash bins along your route.

And finally, be patient. Some dogs adjust quickly; others need more time. If your pet has special needs or is a senior, plan for even more frequent stops and check for accessible places to rest.

Tip 4: Be Prepared for Emergencies

Expect things to go wrong on the trip, even with the best planning and preparation. Research pet-friendly housing or veterinary clinics along your route in case of emergencies. 

Create a small pet first-aid kit with basics like gauze, antiseptic wipes, bandages, tweezers, and any necessary medications your dog takes. Have contact information for your vet and a nearby emergency clinic handy. 

It’s also a good idea to have a recent photo of your dog in case they get lost. Moreover, Scoop Soldiers recommends getting your dog a collar with an ID tag containing all your identification details. Additionally, also consider getting pet insurance or joining a pet assistance program that can provide support during emergencies while traveling.

In conclusion, road trips with your furry companion create memories to cherish. A little planning goes a long way toward ensuring a safe and happy journey for both you and your dog.

By following these tips, you can ensure a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable road trip for both you and your furry companion. So load up your bags, buckle up, and hit the road with your loyal four-legged friend by your side. With proper planning and preparation, you’ll create permanent memories and build up a connection with your beloved pet.

Now, time to take to the road and make some tails wag!

Brenda Thompson

Brenda Thompson is an expert in dog behavior with over a decade of experience, and she is also passionate about working with cats and birds. In addition to contributing pet content to, she is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. Brenda received her Bachelor of Science in Biological and Biomedical Sciences & Philosophy from Colorado College in 2014. She has taken classes in writing and remote animal behavior consulting, as well as courses on how to manage aggressive dogs and litter box issues. In 2016, she obtained her dog behavior consulting certification and joined the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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