Road-tripping is a great, American tradition, and it's been popular even before the federal highway system that made it possible to drive cross-country without taking more than one or two roads. While part of a road trip is the place you're going to, the real worth is the experience of taking that trip with your friends. So why would you leave your best friend at home, while you go out and have all the fun?
If you're going to bring your dog on a road trip, though, it's important to follow a few, simple tips to make it a great experience, both for you and your four-legged friend. This list is brought to you by the ASPCA, Cesar's Way, and Web MD.
Tip #1: Start Small
If you decided you were going to run a marathon, you'd probably start preparing for it by jogging shorter distances. Maybe working your way up to some 3k and 5k runs before you took on the big one. Well, taking a road trip with your canine pal is like that. If your dog is a homebody, and isn't used to being away from familiar territory for more than the length of a visit to the dog park, then you need to get them used to spending more time in the car. Even more importantly, though, you need to get your dog used to not coming home every night.
Tip #2: Bring Some Familiar Things to Ease Homesickness
Going on a road trip is exciting, but it can also be terrifying. Especially for a dog. So, if you're going to go away for a few days, make sure you bring a few pieces of the familiar for your pooch. Bring their food and water dishes, as well as a bed, blanket, and a few toys. Having these things will bring them comfort, and it will give them somewhere to curl up and relax in when the tension or stress of the day gets to be too much.
Tip #3: Get Them Used to Going on The Go
Letting your dog out to go to the bathroom is one of the most regular parts of being a dog owner, but it can become a whole new challenge if your dog isn't used to going in strange places. That's a habit you need to get them into, which is why it's a good idea to make sure your dog can do their business while you're on the road. Otherwise you might have to drive with the windows down for completely different reasons than you normally would on a road trip.
Tip #4: Make Sure They're Safe, and Comfortable
It's tempting to just let your dog sit on the seat, or curl up in a foot well, but despite the easy chairs and carpeting, your car isn't your living room. If your dog jumps on your lap at the wrong moment, that can cause a major traffic accident. Or, worse, if someone else swerves into your lane, you need to be sure that your canine companion is in a safe place to survive any accident you get into.
That means you need to have a crate, or a cage, and to be sure they're properly secured. And you need to be sure that, in addition to being comfortable, that the cage or crate you get is safe to use in traffic. Because you want your dog to feel comfortable when you drive, and to be able to see you, as well as where you're going, but if someone slams on the brakes, their safety is a priority.