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How To Road Trip With Your Dog: 12 Helpful Tips

by Helen
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Want to go on a road trip with your dog?  These tips apply to a short and long road trip with your dog.  They cover important aspects such as your furry friend's safety, comfort, and health, ensuring your road trip with your dog is enjoyable and stress-free.  Here are 12 practical but helpful tips I've learned while traveling with a puppy or 4 dogs.  Taking your furry friend on vacation can be a fantastic experience, but finding a dog-friendly destination and accommodation is crucial.

Taking your dog on a road trip can be a wonderful bonding time, yet stressful. Our dog Addi, an Australian shepherd, has adjusted to traveling with us for a while. She is now finally learning not to bark at every car, person, bird, or dog she sees. Addi is much calmer if Belle, a Leopard Catahoula Dog, comes along with us on our road trips, even if they are short. We take her and the other girls around the block for a car ride or to get doggie cups full of snacks.

Many of us prefer to travel with our furry companions on airplanes, road trips, or RVs. However, such an experience can be highly stressful for dogs, causing some anxiety. If it is not something they are accustomed to in their daily lives, it exposes them to a whole new world of sights, sounds, and smells that can cause anxiety. Even the calmest and most relaxed dog can become anxious during take-off, landing, or when entering a new Airbnb with different smells.

Are you planning a trip with your dog? Below are 15 dog road trip tips to ensure a safe yet fun time.

1. Up To Date Dog Tags

In general, or when taking a road trip with your dog, it's essential to ensure that your furry friend's contact information is always up-to-date on their tag and microchip. In case your dog ever gets lost, having the most recent information can make all the difference in reuniting with them. If you've recently moved since adopting your dog, it's even more imperative to update their contact information as soon as possible. Updating your information will give you peace of mind and increase the chances of a happy reunion if your dog ever gets separated.

2. Travel With Your Dog's Vaccination Record and Pack a Dog First Aid Kit

Ensuring that your furry friend is up to date on their vaccines is crucial. This is particularly important if you plan on going on a road trip with your dog and may need to board them or if your dog becomes ill. In such instances, you must provide a copy of their vaccination records for the boarding facility or vet. 

While a digital copy of their vaccination records on your phone is usually sufficient, keeping a physical copy in your glove box is advisable to be safe. This way, you can easily access it in case your phone dies, gets lost, or gets damaged. By taking this extra precaution, you can ensure that your dog stays healthy and happy, even while on the go.

I recommend bringing a dog first aid kit with dressings, bandages, and tools like a splinter picker/tick remover to address injuries or remove foreign objects from your dog's paws or body during travel. Addi suffers from severe anxiety, and Belle is a nervous nelly, so we have to pack their Dog CBD oil and bolster bed.

3. Give Your Dog Their Own Dedicated Comfy Space in the Car

Remember not to pack your car too full with luggage to the point where your dog has to squeeze between bags with barely enough room to lie down. This is similar to sitting in the middle seat on a crowded flight for hours, which will not be a comfortable experience – including your dogs. The more space and dedicated area you provide for your furry friend, the better-behaved they will likely be during the journey. Be sure to bring a dog bedmatblanket, or even a foam sleeping pad that you can fold in half to provide your dog with a comfortable rest.

Road Tripping With Your Dog

4. Positive Reinforcement & Reward Your Dog With Treats

Having a well-behaved dog is essential for a smooth road trip experience. We have successfully trained our dogs using positive reinforcement. Essentially, when they follow our commands, we reward them with a treat, which helps to reinforce good behavior. When you start a road trip with your dog, using positive reinforcement with treats and toys is helpful.

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5. Always Give Your Dog Access to Water

Getting a small, stable water bowl for your dog to place on the floor of your car's backseat or the back of your car is a good idea. This way, your furry pup can have water whenever they need it without waiting until you stop for gas.

6. Dog Frequent Bathroom Breaks

It's important to remember that if you need to take a bathroom break during a road trip, your dog probably needs one, too. Even if you're in a hurry to reach your destination, it's crucial to take a few extra minutes to let your dog out to do their business. Dogs need to stretch their legs and move around like humans do during long drives. Taking your dog for a quick walk around the parking lot can help prevent them from sitting in the car for long periods. Bring doggie wipes for accidents or booboos.

7. Get Toys That Will Last

Bringing quality toys is a vital dog road trip tip often overlooked.  Toys can keep your pup occupied and provide mental stimulation.  However, it is important to choose durable toys, especially if your dog likes to destroy them.  Addi, for example, loves ripping apart her toys and leaving a mess behind, so we like to buy toxic-free, sustainable dog toys.  To avoid this, we bring toys that can withstand rough playtime so they don't fall apart during our trip.  On the other hand, Kallie loves to fetch.  The other two dogs don't care if we bring dog toys on our road trip.

A few toys I like to keep on hand are boredom buster treat stuffer toys, tug toys, ballsand frisbee.  If your dog is into fetch, a quick way to get a lot of exercise is a chuck-it ball thrower.  You'll throw the ball much further than you can with your arm, meaning the dog runs further in a shorter period.  Plus, with the chuck-it, you won't have to touch that slobber-covered ball with your bare hands.


Kallie, our Blueheeler, loves to fetch a ball and stick to pretty much anything that resembles a ball.  She loves her Chuck-it ball thrower, and we do, too.  I don't have to bend over to pick up her slimy ball.

8. Road Trip With Your Dog: Find Local Dog Park

When you arrive in a new town, an easy way to blow off your dog's steam is to stop by the local dog park. They will be bursting with energy, and it's also an excellent way to socialize them. Still, trying to figure out where to go?  This website has listings for nearly every town, and I've found them reasonably accurate.

When road tripping with your dog when you arrive in a new town, taking your dog to a local dog park can be an easy way to let them blow off steam. Not only will they have an outlet for their energy, but it's also an excellent opportunity to socialize them. If you need help finding a dog park, a website provides listings for the Austin, Texas, area. I've found it relatively accurate, so it's worth checking out.

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9. Camp or Dog Friendly Home Rather Than Stay at Hotels

Camping gives your pup more space to roam and can often be easier than finding pet-friendly hotels. While many campgrounds allow dogs on leashes, you can also look for dispersed camps so your dogs can be off-leash and have more freedom. If you're not into camping, you can also stay in a dog-friendly vacation home, condo, or villa where you know your dog is genuinely welcome.

Dog Friendly Vacation Rental

TakePaws manages privately owned vacation homes perfect for the whole family, including dogs. Booking with TakePaws saves you 10-15% compared to Airbnb, as you'll be booking directly with local property managers.
Dog Approved

10. Bring a Collapsable Crate for Your Hotel Stays

Bringing a crate along is a good idea if you travel with your dog and stay at a hotel or Airbnb. This will help your dog feel more secure in an unfamiliar environment. A crate can be helpful even if you're taking a pit stop at a restaurant and don't want to leave your furry friend unattended in the car. Opt for a collapsible crate since it will only take up a little space in your car when not in use.

If you're planning a road trip with your furry friend, getting them used to the crate before the journey, ideally when they're still a puppy, is essential. The key is to make the crate feel like their home. You can place an old sweatshirt that smells like you inside the crate, along with a few toys, to make your dog feel more comfortable. Remember to use positive reinforcement when your dog gets into the crate, rewarding them with a treat. Never use the crate as a form of punishment, as this can give the opposite result. If you're looking for more tips on how to crate-train your dog, this resource is an excellent place to start.

11. Your Car Will Get Dirty On Your Road Tirp With Your Dog

During your road trip with your dog, be messy, shed fur, drool, and get dirty. It's inevitable; accepting it is the best way to deal with it. There's no need to get upset with them for being dirty since it's just part of their nature. Plus, the dirt on them might signify that they had a lot of fun, which matters most.

If you're concerned about your car getting dirty, using seat covers and carrying a portable vacuum can help keep things tidy. Additionally, if your dog tends to roll around in mud or poop, it's a good idea to keep a short hose in your car so that you can rinse them off at the nearest water hookup.  Quick-dry towels also come in handy for drying your dog off when they get wet.

Our truck and SUV are constantly dirty, and dog hair is everywhere due to the dogs – but it's well worth it!

12. Pick Up After Your Dog

Please remember that It is essential to always pick up after your dog.  Not only is it unpleasant to look at or, worse, to step on, but dog poop also pollutes waterways.  We like to keep a good supply of compostable poop bags in our car so that we are always prepared to pick up after our dogs.  This applies when walking or during a road trip with your dog.

Road Trip With Your Dog

13. Be Aware of Wildlife During Road Trip With Your Dog

Abiding by leash laws at the campgrounds was very important in places like Yellowstone or Big Bear Lake. There are bears and elk often strolling through camp, and the last thing you want is for your dog to chase and bark at a bear. You should know about the local wildlife and make good choices so your dog doesn't end up a bear's next meal. In Texas and other places we have visited, rattlesnakes are an issue. Even though I don't like my dogs getting more shots than necessary, we have them take the rattlesnake vaccine. It is essential during a road trip with your dog since you may be far from a vet.

Final Thoughts: 13 Tips For a Fun and Safe Road Trip With Your Dog

In conclusion, road tripping with your dog can be a wonderful experience for both you and your furry companion. With some planning and preparation, you can ensure that your trip is safe, comfortable, and enjoyable for everyone involved. Remember to pack plenty of supplies, take frequent breaks, and keep your dog safe and secure during the trip. And most importantly, have fun exploring new places and making memories with your loyal companion by your side.

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