Road Trip! Traveling By Car With Your Dog
by K.S. Mueller
My dogs and I travel frequently from the hilly farmlands of central Massachusetts, to the shores of Cape Cod – about a 3-hour trip in each direction. We’ve got it down to a routine now, after nearly a decade of making the same trip many times a year – yes, even in winter! One of our (my) major conundrums is traveling with multiple dogs (we have three at the moment); and the other is traveling without another human companion for assistance. Things can get tricky when it’s time for a pit stop, for instance. Here are some tips for traveling by car with your dog, no matter what the season!
Make Sure Everyone Is Comfortable and Secure With Supplies on Hand
When traveling long-distance with multiple dogs, it’s important that every hound has his or her own space to stretch out and sleep, a water bowl, and a harness, crate or confined area of the car for themselves. Some dogs love to cuddle together, and if they’re small enough that’s great, but my guys are big, so each one gets his own section of the car. Charlie Brown rides in the “way back” of the station wagon, and he is secured safely in that confined area. He is a very big dog, so a crate for him would be unaffordable, and wouldn’t fit in the car anyway. Hobie (14) and Cooper (3-legs) each being handicapped, have their own seat and a harness attached to the seatbelt. Hobie gets the back seat of the car all to himself. Though not ideal, Cooper gets the passenger seat up front if we’re traveling with all three dogs. He curls up in a little ball, and is also harnessed. Each dog has his own portable water bowl. Always have a leash for each dog, plus one extra per dog. I have so many leashes in my car, I could open a leash store! You never know when someone is going to slip a collar or run after a squirrel. Be prepared with extra leashes and a pocket full of treats. Don’t forget the poop bags!
Bring A Human Companion or Helper
Since I don’t have kids, and I have no family members close by, and my spouse dislikes road trips, I always travel solo with the dogs. This can be a huge undertaking just getting the dogs into and (especially) out of the car (when we arrive at our vacation home). The town we visit is a touristy, beachy community, and very crowded, but with “wide-open spaces” and lots of wildlife. A dog can get lost, or injured, very easily. There has to be orderliness and rules for getting out of the car when we arrive, and back in when it’s time to return home. Not to mention bathroom breaks for me (see below).
Consider Leaving A Pet At Home
Not everyone can do this, but I will suggest it anyway: if you have multiple dogs, try traveling with just one, instead of bringing the entire pack. It gives you and that dog a break from the others, and it gives the rest of the pack a break from you. Obviously, you have to have human helpers back at home to accommodate this arrangement. Sometimes having a spouse who doesn’t like road trips has its advantages! Make this trip a special time for bonding with just one dog. Take turns and change it up. Charlie gets to go one time. Cooper goes the next. Then, maybe the third time both dogs will travel. Hobie now stays home, as his car travel days are over, but some of my most special memories are the few times I took off with him to Cape Cod “just the two of us”. Create special memories with each dog, and bust stress at the same time. It’s a lot easier traveling with just one dog.
|Hobie in the back, during a recent trip to the vet.|
Travel At Sunrise or Sunset in the Summer
There’s a lot of focus on the internet lately about dogs being left in hot cars in the summer while the owner runs errands or takes a bathroom break, or worse, does a full week’s shopping! This should never occur, obviously. One way I avoid this problem, because, as stated before, I travel without human companionship, is to travel very early in the morning, or very late in the afternoon/evening. By doing so, I am able to stop for a bathroom break without fearing that my dogs will bake inside the car. When you gotta go, you gotta go! Here are some pictures of Charlie during a recent trip. The ideal situation would be to be able to bring our dogs with us inside of bathrooms at rest areas or convenience stores. Sigh. Maybe some day. Until then, I am seriously considering buying a box of "Depends" for my trips! Remember that what I write here is my personal opinion, and we are all different. What works for me, may not work for you, particularly if you are traveling in a high-crime area.
|Charlie in the back of the car while I pumped gas.|
|Mid-morning, under a gas station canopy, sunroof open wide.|
|Charlie can put his nose out, but can't jump out.|
|From the drivers' seat just before driving away. Notice the open sunroof, and gentle, soft panting.|
In keeping with the theme of leaving at dawn, I will run my necessary pre-travel errands the night before, without a dog. Fill the car with gas, get an iced coffee and keep it in the fridge for the morning (just add more ice and you’re good to go!), go to the ATM and get money on the way home from work. If I absolutely must have coffee or food on the road, I always choose the drive-thru. Bonus: most drive-thru personnel like to give out treats if they see a doggie traveling companion!
Above all: safety first, have FUN, and take lots of pictures!
Dogs on Planes and Other Things Not To Do When Traveling
by Kendra Thornton
My extended family is heading on an adventure to Chicago next month, and this time they are making sure that their furry friend is invited. I always plan a little bit early to ensure that whenever families come to visit that they have a great time. Adding a dog to the mix makes it a bit trickier but I’ve shared some tips and tricks that I use, with them. Here are some tricks that I've picked up over the years.
The Right Kind of Crate
While I'm not a fan of the crate all the time, it is one of the best things to bring with you on vacations because pets need a comfortable place to relax and sleep. If you plan any activities where you have to leave the dog alone, a create is also the best idea and will ensure that she is comfortable. I take her out before and after she goes into the crate as well so she burns off some energy.
Try Road Trips Instead
A road trip is the best way to travel with your pup because she stays in a familiar place and gets to smell lots of places along the way. It's also known that dogs just do not do well with airplanes. Dogs have to travel in crates in cargo on airplanes, which can be kind of frightening for any animal or person. I think if you are going to travel try to avoid an airplane at all costs. A car may take longer but your dog will feel much more safe and secure and will love you for it!
Safety on the Water
Even though dogs are great swimmers, they do get tired like the rest of us. I make sure that my pup has an approved life vest on at all times when we are on the boat. You never know what my excited or startle her, and I definitely want to make sure that she stays on the boat with us, and if she does jump in, she has a floating device to ensure that she's okay.
Pick a Better Hotel
I looked for a few different hotel options in Chicago for them that had pet-friendly policies. I know that most hotels allow pets, but are they really pet-friendly? I found a few hotels with doggy day care, dog parks and even free breakfast for dogs that make it easy and fun to bring along your pet. Downtown Chicago will offer my extended family great hotel options that are even close to all the sites!
I hope these tips and tricks help you and your family. I know when we’ve implemented them, everyone has a better time, relaxing and enjoying the sun together.