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Taking a Road Trip With Your Dog? Here are 7 Tips to Avoid Mishaps

Taking a Road Trip With Your Dog? Here are 7 Tips to Avoid Mishaps

About 73% of Americans took a road trip in the summer of 2021. It’s a fun and exciting way to travel. Additionally, 38% of US households own dogs, so it’s safe to assume quite a few of these road trips include a canine companion. But have you planned your road trip with your dog in mind?

Let’s look at ways to travel safely with your pet while also making sure they enjoy the journey. Let’s dive in.

Top 5 Tips for Road Tripping with your Dog

How Do I Keep My Dog Safe on a Road Trip? 

Your dog is part of the family, and it is essential to keep them safe on a road trip. Dogs can sense change, so one thing to keep in mind is protecting your dog from themself. They may get nervous in new places, anxious in the car, and could easily run off and get lost.

Ease the anxiety by considering medication. Allow your dog to sniff around new places but carefully watch to ensure they don’t get into something unsafe. Have the proper travel gear to keep your dog safe while in the car. And make sure their collar has the correct identification.

Pro Tip: Losing your furry friend while on the road is a terrifying experience! If you’ve lost your pup while RVing, Here’s How To Find Them.

How Do I Prepare My Dog for a Long Car Ride?

If your dog isn’t used to riding in the car with you, prepare them before taking a long road trip. Sit in your car in the driveway with your dog. Don’t go anywhere. Just let your dog sniff around, explore, and get used to the feel of the car. 

When ready, take short trips around town. They should also get used to using seat belts or being in crates. Take small steps before expecting your dog to enjoy a long road trip.

Caitlin from Mortons on the Move on a road trip with dog.
Hit the open road with your furry friends!

Here Are 7 Tips to Avoid Mishaps with Your Dog on Road Trips

Whether you’ll travel a long distance between two places or take a several stop journey, there are some tips to help keep your dog safe on the road. You want the journey to be enjoyable for them too. Let’s look at these eight tips to help you and your fur baby have a great road trip together.

1.  Contact Your Vet Prior to Departure 

When going on a road trip with your dog, it’s always a good idea to check with your vet to make sure they don’t suggest a pre-departure visit. If it’s been a while since your dog has been to the vet, it could be a good idea to go in for a check-up. 

The vet might also prescribe an anxiety medication for travel so that you have it on hand if needed. You’ll also want to get a printed version of your dog’s vaccination history and shot records just in case you need to show proof while traveling.

Finding vet care while you travel can be a challenge but is far from impossible. Check out our tips for finding vet care while on the road.

2. Plan Your Route Around Dog-Friendly Accommodations

Make sure to find dog-friendly accommodations. If you want to visit a specific destination and can’t find a hotel that allows dogs, you’ll need to stay in a different location. Don’t wait until the last minute to make reservations.

One easy way we love to travel with our dogs is by RV. RVing with dogs provides a consistent habitat for them to become familiar with, and you don’t have to worry about pet fees! Most campgrounds and RV parks are dog-friendly (with some rules) and some even cater to dogs with washes and dog parks on-site.

RVing with Pets - Mondays with the Mortons

3. Crate Your Dog

Your dog may not like riding in a crate, but it’s a good idea to keep them out of trouble. Even if your dog is well-trained, a new place with new smells will pique their interest.

You don’t want to spend a night at a hotel or at a friend’s house to wake up to find toilet paper all over the floor or a chewed piece of chair.

Pro Tip: Want to go on an adventure with your pup, but don’t have an RV? Use these tips on How to Find Pet Friendly RV Rentals.

Mortons on the Move dog on a road trip.
Comfort and safety is key while on a road trip with your pup!

4. Pack All of Your Dog’s Favorites and Essentials

Going on a road trip with your dog means packing another bag. Bring your dog’s favorite things and essentials, including food, bowls, a leash, poop bags, and treats.

If you have room to pack their bed, then grab it, too. They will appreciate having a familiar place to sleep. And then bring the fun stuff that will keep your dog entertained on the journey, such as their favorite squeaky toy.

Pro Tip: Before you hit the road, make sure you know Is It Illegal to Leave Your Dog in Your Vehicle?

5. Stick to Your Dog’s Normal Daily Routine as Best You Can

Dogs, like children, do better with routine. You may not have the entire trip planned out when you leave, but as you consider things to do and places to visit, keep your dog’s daily routine in mind. 

If you know it’s best to take them out for a nighttime stroll after dinner, make sure you’re in a safe location. Follow the same feeding schedule and use the same food to ensure your dog doesn’t have digestive issues. Your fur baby may have some anxiety visiting all of these new places. Help ease that by sticking to their routine.

Mortons on the Move dog head out truck window.
Create life long memories on road trips with your fur babies.

6. Always Have Water Available

When you fill up your water bottle to head out for a hike, don’t forget to bring one for your dog, too. On travel days, when you pack snacks and drinks for the road, make sure to pack treats and water for your dog.

When you leave them alone in a crate, make sure they have plenty of water. Sometimes anti-anxiety medication can cause dogs to be more thirsty. Ensure you’ve provided the water your pet needs.

Pro Tip: Keep your furry friends safe on the go by following these 5 Rules for RVing with Pets.

7. Watch the Weather Forecast

Most dogs don’t like thunderstorms. When taking a road trip with your pet, watch the weather forecast. If you have to drive through stormy weather, take special care of your dog and be prepared to stop more often. 

Try not to leave your dog alone in a foreign place during a thunderstorm. If you’ll go out to dinner with friends and leave your dog crated at their house, consider ordering take-out if a storm comes. You don’t want to leave them in a strange place alone and frightened.

Mortons on the Move dog looking out truck window.
Hike, swim, explore and more on a road trip with your pup!

Also, never leave your dog in a hot vehicle. Pay attention to the weather when going out to the grocery store or running errands. Even if it is nice outside, the temperature inside the car can double. Try to leave your dog in a safe location at a hotel or campsite instead.

Are Road Trips Bad for Dogs?

Road trips create some of the best memories. Whether it’s just you and your fur baby or your whole family traveling together, visiting new places day after day is adventurous. Your dog will enjoy the road trip if you follow these eight tips. 

Your dog is part of the family, so you don’t always want to leave them at home or boarded at a facility. Just be prepared for a road trip with a dog. Make sure your pet is safe and has everything they need to enjoy the trip, too.

Have you ever taken a road trip with your dog? Where did you go? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Doug D.

Saturday 26th of November 2022

Agree with most of your suggestions, but you missed a big one: to avoid losing your dog, always have a GPS tracking device attached to the dog's collar while traveling. Dogs can get out, leashes can snap, or a dog can get loose for any of a million reasons. If that happens and the dog is loose in a strange environment such as a campground, you may never find your best friend again. GPS trackers are not expensive (I think I paid $50 for one on Amazon, and it works well) and are cheap insurance.

Mortons on the Move

Saturday 17th of December 2022

Great idea! Thanks for sharing!

Roy V.

Monday 27th of December 2021

Just can't help myself... a bit of a gloat moment. My wife and I, now retired were full-time OTR truck drivers with our two dogs. Reading the article, which was well put together BTW, was for me, such a good feeling to know that our furry creatures are all ready broken in, in every sense of the context. Probably even more so. Heck, learning what I could do for them and what they could learn from us was very memorable.

Just want to say to everyone who has read this article, please abide by the advice and try your best to imagine yourself as the furry creature that is having to discover and learn a new way of living.