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TAKING YOUR DOG ON A ROAD TRIP

by Barbara J. Andrews, Publisher, SAAB and Research Staff

 

Professional traveler shares all the things you wish you’d thought about to make traveling with your dog fun instead of stressful, so relax and take the dog

 

Maybe you thought about it and decided it’s too hot, too much trouble, your dog won’t be welcome at your different destinations, or all the other possibilities that dog owners on vacation must consider? If you are making a trip alone, the dog will keep you company, avidly listen to your stories… and especially that song you love to sing out loud. He may even sing along with you!

 

This advice by someone who has logged over 500,000 miles with multiple dogs If you are in a motor home or van, be sure to bring one of the plastic “carpets” to reduce tracking into your RV whether you’re roughing it or staying in an RV park.

 

Packing The Dog’s Stuff!

The one thing that will pay for itself on any trip and in day-to-day life is a dog crate suitable to his size. It should be large enough for him to stand upright with his shoulders not touching the top. It should be wide enough that he can easily, by bending of course, turn himself around. It should NOT be so large as to be unwieldy to load and unload from the car for overnight stays.

 

If he doesn’t have a crate at home or you’ve never used one, you’ll need to purchase one suitable for his size. Take time to accustom him to the crate for at least a week or two before you leave.

 

But if you’ve got those logistics worked out then you’ll welcome these simple but useful tips to make a trip with your dog more pleasant and enjoyable for all.

 

When preparing to load your stuff in the car or RV be sure to include his or her favorite pillows, blankets, or dog bed. Take along a couple of his toys but nothing you or the dog would hate to lose. It’s amazing how dog toys find their way under the hotel or motel bed when you’re getting ready to leave…

 

Your pooch will appreciate a chew toy to keep him occupied during the trip. You can buy nylon chew bones which will help him to while away his time while traveling since he won’t be interested in the sights and scenery that help you to pass the time.

 

Everyone loves travel snacks. Just make sure his road-snacks are clean and crumb free enough to enjoy in the vehicle. He doesn’t need fried chicken or a drive-through hamburger, not even if he’s safely crated. If for no other reason, bear in mind that you do not want to upset his stomach while he’s on the road. A dog-with-diarrhea can really spoil your trip!

 

Potty Stops And Exercise

Your dog needs to empty bladder and bowel while traveling but especially within the first 30 to 60 minutes. The excitement of packing for the trip and wondering what the family is up to may have upset his intestinal tract. Or it may be that he was so busy following you and wondering why you are bustling around that he forgot to go out and go potty.

 

Since he can’t talk to you, it’s up to you to keep an eye on him and be aware if he gives any signs of needing to empty his bowels. When you stop, you are indeed “stretching your legs” so don’t rush your dog or just stand in one spot expecting him to “hurry up and go”. Not only does he need to walk around and unwind, you know by now that your dog needs to find the perfect spot to eliminate.

 

Regular Food While Traveling

Everyone likes to stop for snacks or an interesting meal while on the road trip. Your dog would probably love a French-fry or a nibble of your hamburger. That’s just fine at home but not wise when you’re on the road. Most commercially prepared foods are high in MSG and other “stuff” not in his normal diet so resist the temptation to share with him.

 

You will have brought his regular canned or dry dog food. If he is on a fresh meat diet, make space for a small cooler and remember to freeze his meat before leaving home. Alternatively, you can boil chicken with brown rice and freeze it in small containers which can go in your cooler.

 

Bonus tip: his frozen food, in small freezer bags, can take the place of ice cubes in your cooler for the first day of your trip.

 

Pack Your Dog’s Travel Bag

Pack an extra leash and collar, just in case. Be sure to pack any medicines that he’s on in the plastic bag where you will insert a note with his veterinarian’s phone number and a list of his current vaccinations. Of course your trip will be trouble-free but in the event of an accident, you want to be sure the boarding kennel or rescue people know how to take care of him.

 

You should have your own contact information on the car registration form which most people put over the drivers visor or in the glove compartment. It is also a good idea to make a list of any medicines you are on and include contact information for your family and or your doctor.

 

Here’s wishing you a wonderful road trip with your best friend! Store up many precious memories and take lots of photographs.

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