As the weather begins to get warmer, you want to get outside more. A road trip might be in your future. There's just something about the highway, windows down, music up, driving to a new adventure. Such freedom! And what better way to spend a road trip, than with your 4-legged best friend. Here's 5 things you must do in order to keep your pup safe when you travel.
1. Buckle up your dog in a Center for Pet Safety certified seatbelt.
Whether it's in a Sleepypod harness, Sleepypod carrier, Gunner Kennel, or ZuGoPet Rocketeer Pack car seat, you've got to keep your dog safe. This means getting your dog accustomed to riding in a seatbelt before embarking on the trip. How long does it take to get your dog used to it?
Sorry, there's no definitive answer here. As long as it takes! The more you practice and are consistent about it, the faster the progress. Create positive experiences and gradually increase how long your dog rides in the car. Need a seatbelt?
2. Bring the essential safety items: tags, vaccination records, pet first aid kit and emergency info.
Your dog should always have its tags on, just in case he/she gets lost. If you are not buckling your dog in a Center for Pet Safety certified product and you are in a crash, there is a possibility that your dog will get loose. Scared dogs flee, opening up a whole other set of risks. Go do a Google search of dogs in car crashes. You'll be surprised how many articles you find. And those are just the ones that make the news.
Keep up-to-date vaccination records in the car. That way, if your dog gets sick or hurt, and you need to find a nearby vet in another state, you'll have what you need to get your dog seen.
Grab a pet first aid kit, and get familiar with the items inside. You never know when you'll need it. Need to take a first aid class? Critter Cozy offers a comprehensive, fantastic course. http://crittercozy.com/1stAidCPR/class.php
Something we don't think about often is emergency info for your dog. What if you are in a crash, and can't communicate your dogs' needs to the paramedics and animal control? Unfortunately, I've been there. I couldn't communicate that my dog's name was Piper, that she was on Apoquil and various herbal medicines, had arthritis, went to the acupuncturist and chiropractor. A whole bit of medical history that may or may not have interfered with her treatment.
Keep emergency information about your dog handy, and in a place that is easy for rescue workers to find. What is the medical history? Who are the emergency contacts? Check out this emergency tube from Crafts 4 K9 Rescue. This is a GREAT idea.
3. Treats, food and water especially for a long drive.
If you're going on a road trip, I bet you're going to have snacks and drinks in the car for yourself. But what about your dog? Make sure to offer snacks and water frequently so your dog doesn't get dehydrated.
Pack a bag just for your dog. A jug of water, water bowl, and a bunch of food, treats, and chews. Maybe freeze a Kong for the ride. If you have a wiggle worm, keep your dog busy in the car. A busy dog is a good dog. If your dog is licking a Kong, he/she can't be trying to wiggle out of the seatbelt, crying or barking in your ear. Keep your pup happy in the car for a peaceful car ride!
4. Let your dog sniff at every rest stop.
At the end of a long day of driving, who wants an over-energetic dog? Not me. You're tired from driving and want to go to bed. Your dog wants to play. Total no-go.
To help with that, make sure that you take lots of breaks along your trip. Stop at every rest stop, and let your dog sniff. Sniffing tires out your dog's brain, and that is a very good thing! Take a walk along the rest area's path, and take a few laps if needed.
You know that song, "I'm in a Hurry (And Don't Know Why) by Alabama?
These lyrics are so true-
"I'm in a hurry to get things done, oh I rush and rush until life's no fun. All I've really gotta do is live and die, but I'm in a hurry and don't know why."
(If you don't know the song, check it out here - it's a goodie! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAZOCgR6pmM)
Instead of rushing and tugging on the leash to have your dog hurry up to get back on the road, savor the moment. You're in another city, experiencing a new view, new smells. Enjoy the moments on the way to your final destination. Yes, you are in the middle of a highway. But, if you take a close look, you can also soak in the atmosphere and culture around you. That is what your dog is doing, and dogs know how to embrace the moments. Follow your dog's lead!
5. Extra leash, extra seatbelt, towels, wipes.
Mud, rain, sand, waves...no matter where you are going, there's a chance you might end up with a dirty dog. Having your dog sit in a wet Sleepypod harness is like sitting in a wet bathing suit out of water. Ugh.
Keep an extra Sleepypod harness in case one needs to dry. Bring an extra leash in case one gets dragged through the mud. And lots of towels. Because a muddy, sandy dog on your car seats isn't really ideal, and a towel is much easier to throw in the wash than a car hammock.
Bring a pack of paw wipes or a portable shower for a really good rinse. Just imagine the distinct smell of wet muddy dog on a wet towel in the back of your car...and not having anything to clean up. So bring stuff to keep your pup clean!
Here's some of my favorite, super strong leashes. The ones with clips on both ends are quite handy when I need a hands-free moment: https://www.mountaindogproducts.com.
So are you ready for a road trip? River was crazy mad at me when we came home from our last one, so a new one has to get in the works. Check these 5 things off your list when getting ready to travel - you and your pup are going to have so much fun! Happy traveling!