Dogs on Wheels: Getting Ready to Hit the Road

How many of you have asked your dog “Do you want to go in the car?” For our four-legged friends, travelling with you offers them an endless opportunity to see the world while staying with their family members. Whether our dogs are touring with us in cars or trucks, in trailers, RVs, or on motorcycles, pups on wheels are great friends to keep us company as the miles go rolling by. The memories that we share with our canine companions on the road are unforgettable, as well – from cross country long-haul truck rides to barking good bike trips, dogs on wheels have smelled the best smells and seen the best sites from coast to coast, and around the world.

What makes a great road trip with your pet? Well, first of all, a love of riding is a good place to start, for both you and your pooch. Most dogs are outgoing, social, and fit well into the nomadic lifestyle, but some pups just don’t enjoy the journey. Motion sickness can be plan-breaker for many dogs, and senior or very young dogs might be stressed by too much travel or change in routine!

Pre-planning is key when you’re packing for a road ramble with Rover, of course. You wouldn’t expect to jump in the car and head down the driveway without packing yourself a suitcase, so the same goes for your four-legged travel buddy, too! To make sure that your dog travels in comfort, let’s take a look at some road trip packing tips for your pooch.

Safe and Secure

No matter how your pup is travelling with you, safety should be your top priority – so that means no moving paws in the vehicle! Loose dogs account for many vehicular accidents yearly – they can be a distraction to drivers, and a free-roaming pooch can be seriously hurt during an accident. Before heading out, figure out the best place for your dog to ride. In a car, a back seat or cargo area away from airbags is best, while in an RV or truck, an anchored kennel that keeps your best friend secure might be the way to go. If your pooch is riding out of the kennel, make sure they’re wearing a canine seatbelt harness (preferably with wide straps and padding) that can be tethered to a car seatbelt.

For dogs that prefer the biker lifestyle, their size often determines the best way to keep them safe. Small, calm dogs can ride in a harness attached to their owners, but there are also vented cargo carriers that can be strapped to the back of a bike for your pup to ride in. Larger dogs might be able to ride seated behind the driver if harnessed securely, but many of them prefer the comfort of a sidecar for cruising, too. No matter where your best friend rides on your bike, goggles (or ‘Doggles’) are a necessity to prevent damage to their eyes from wind-blown dust, dirt and insects.

Vet Visit

Before you head out of town, do your dog a favor and make a trip to the vet first. Your pup should have a complete check-over to make sure that they’re healthy for travel, and up to date vaccinations are a must to make sure that they avoid contagious disease disasters – neither you nor your pooch will be happy about being sick on the road! Talk to your pup’s doctor about prevention for pesky parasites like fleas, ticks and heartworm, too – you wouldn’t want your dog to bring home any unwelcome travellers of their own. Finally, if your dog doesn’t have permanent identification like a microchip already, now might be the time to consider it. Unexpected events are always a possibility with travel, and in addition to up to date collar tags, microchipping your dog can be of enormous assistance in case you’re accidentally separated.

Packing, Pup Style

Although your furry road warrior is probably ready to go in a moment’s notice, they’ll enjoy the journey far more if you bring some of the comforts of home on the road with you. It’s also a great idea to be ‘paw-pared’ for the worst case travel scenarios, too – dogs have their own ideas of fun sometimes, and you never know when they might decide to roll in something smelly during a mid-day pit stop! Some items to pack your pet’s travel bag with should include:

  • Your pup will travel better if they’re eating familiar food! Bring enough for each day of travel, plus 3-4 days extra
  • Choose ones that don’t spoil easily and are minimally messy
  • Collapsible, portable bowls that fit into a pack are perfect for trips
  • Secure collar or harness and leash
  • Your pup’s familiar bed or blanket
  • Toys and chew items. Long trips can have boring parts too, so these give your dog something to do
  • Health records and proof of vaccinations. Some campgrounds, resorts, and international border crossings will need to see these, and it’s a good idea to carry them in case your dog needs medical care along the way, too
  • If your dog takes daily medication, it’s always a good idea to take a full refill with you, plus extra if possible!
  • Plastic bags for poop scooping. Make sure to be a good canine-owning citizen!
  • Old towels or moist wipes. You never know when a mess might happen!
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency phone numbers. Doggie disasters can happen on the road, so research the numbers of emergency vet services in the area that your trip takes you – it never hurts to be prepared!
  • You won’t want to forget the amazing memories that you make with your mutt!

Bark Breaks

Finally, once you’ve hit the highway, remember to take the time to stop and see the sights, too. Your dog will need breaks every few hours to check the local dog mail, have a potty break, and stretch their legs. Many dogs won’t drink or eat while the wheels are turning, so be sure to give them downtime to chow down on the road, and lots of opportunities to wet their whistle along the way, too.

There are so many reasons to ramble the road with your favorite furry family members, and as long as they’re safe and comfortable, they’re sure to stick by your side while you enjoy the ride!

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