5 Tips for going on a road trip with your dog
For Toby, car trips always mean we are going somewhere exciting. He eagerly jumps into the front seat, puts his head out the window and enjoys the sweet smells that drift up his nose as we drive to our destination.
We have been lucky with Toby — he is a very calm and relaxed passenger and is happy to sit in a car for two or three hours. This year Toby’s patience in a car has been tested on several occasions. My husband has moved to Adelaide and Toby and I have stayed behind in Melbourne, visiting Andrew for two weeks every three months. As I can’t bare to put Toby on a plane we make a 9 hour road trip over to Adelaide.
The first time we drove to Adelaide I was a little nervous about how Toby would tolerate such a long drive. I came up with a plan — which I implement — allowing Toby’s road trip experience to be a pleasurable one.
Here are some tips for going on a road trip with your dog that have worked well for Toby on his three 9 hour-long car trips to Adelaide this year.
1. Go for a walk before the road trip
Before setting off on a long car trip it is so important that you take your pooch out for a decent walk and a play at your local park. This allows them to burn some energy, become tired, and ensure that they have completely emptied their bladder and made bowel movements to let them to be as comfortable as possible in the car. It is best not to feed your dog too much before a long car ride as some dogs can get motion sickness and feel worse on a full stomach. If your dog is used to eating in the morning, make sure you feed them a few hours before you set off.
2. Pack Accordingly
Two things you definitely need to take with you to ensure the safety of your pooch is a harness and water. Anything else you take just makes the journey a little bit more enjoyable for your dog. What I take with me is Toby’s harness, a water bottle filled with water (with a lid that can act as a cup, it’s just Andrew’s protein shaker), Toby’s blanket, and his beloved teddy Otis.
When packing the car, bring your dog’s favourite stuffed animal, toy, bone; any item which is familiar to your pooch and will make them feel comfortable and relaxed in the car.
3. Get the car ready
Toby is a front seat passenger, even though he has the option of the whole back seat to himself. Although he clearly has more room to spread out in the back, he always chooses to sit next to me. I place his blanket on the front seat, harness him in, place his teddy next to him and have his water bottle stored in a cool part of the car, out of the sun.
It is important for your pooch’s safety to wear a harness on long road trips, especially when you are going 110km per hour down long stretches of road. A sudden stop or having to swerve out of the way because of road kill can have your dog flying into the dashboard or even the window. To keep them as safe as possible, a good quality harness will allow them to stay protected. Toby’s harness only cost around $20 and straps around him comfortably and clicks in to secure him while still giving him room to move around a little bit to stick his head out the window or change positions when sleeping.
4. Have stops
It is important that you have adequate stops on long road trips to allow your dog to get some fresh air, run around, go to the toilet and basically recuperate. When Toby and I drive to Adelaide we stop every 2 hours, having 3 stops in total. As soon as we stop I give Toby some water, which he usually guzzles down and we have to find a tap to refill his water bottle. At our rests we go for a walk around the town and find a park for Toby to run around in and relax. To let your dog feel like they have had a break from the car it is best to rest for at least 20 minutes. This is a good time for you to stretch your legs and grab something to eat or a coffee to perk you up again.
5. Arriving at your destination
Once you have reached your destination take your pooch for a walk around and let them explore their holiday destination. Letting them play around for a while will let them see that their patience in the car was well worth it.