Dog Road Trip Essentials: 5 Tips for Your Drive

Best friends make the best travel companions—especially when they let you call all the shots. Hitting the road with your pup is a ton of fun, but it also requires some special thought. Consider these dog road trip essentials before you embark on your journey (see what we did there?).

Note: Pandemic protocols are ever-changing, so be sure to check—and double check—all the things before your adventure!

1. Make Sure Your Dog is Cool With the Idea

If your dog gets carsick or struggles with travel anxiety, he’s gonna let you know he hates this whole dog road trip thing. Over and over again. Be honest with yourself about whether your pup will enjoy himself, can comfortably get in and out of the car, and is equipped with your same sense of adventure. If not, your pup might prefer kickin’ it at home with a sitter for a few days.

2. Prepare Your Vehicle for a Dog Road Trip

We know your dog wants her slow motion, wind-in-her-fur moment, but she’s not gettin’ it. We’re just not cool like that. Before your trip, equip your vehicle with a dog car safety belt, harness, or kennel, and prepare your best dog-friendly lecture about how she’s going to use the safety restraint of your choice whenever the car is in motion. 

3. Expect the Unexpected

If we’ve learned one thing as dog parents, it’s that sh*t happens (usually at 2 a.m. when it’s cold and raining). In advance of your trip, make sure your dog is microchipped and that you have a series of clear photos that feature all your dogs distinguishing features. Put together or purchase a canine first aid kit that includes:

  • styptic powder
  • an old credit card (for removing stingers)
  • a muzzle (for help making good choices in stressful situations)
  • phone number for your vet and other emergency veterinarians along the way
  • towel
  • tweezers
  • gauze
  • hydrogen peroxide

4. Pack Up Your Dog Road Trip Essentials

For your dog’s vacation, he will need to go through his dog travel checklist, which includes water bowl, food, treats, medications, medical records, tags, dog bed/blankets, toys, a towel, pupper sunscreen, and so many poop bags. Consider adding some pumpkin and a can opener in case of digestive upset, too. For added convenience, repurpose an old toiletry organizer into a dog travel kit with items you need to get to in a jiffy. And bring a spare leash and collar because these things have a way of getting chewed up at the *worst* times.

5. Make Driving Fun

Make sure your pal has plenty to do in the car (because the license plate game ain’t gonna cut it). Keep things interesting with KONGs and food puzzles, and plan to stop frequently for potty breaks. Every 2-4 hours for a biiiig stretch should be just right. Pro tip: Research dog parks along your route so you have fun stops to run off that energy.

What are your fren’s dog road trip essentials? Woof at us in the comments and be sure to tag #SidewalkDog on all those open-road adventures!

Featured photo: Kelly Lacy

Sidewalk Dog’s mission is to help dog parents spend more time with their puppers by discovering and sharing activities they can do and places they can go—together! Sniff out our award-winning newsletter and Instagram, then check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

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