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Your bags are packed! You've got the dog food, any medications needed and all other essentials handy. You've worked to prepare your dogs for a long trip in a tent, a hotel, or wherever your journey might take you. What could go wrong between when you leave and when you reach your final destination? Unfortunately, more than a few things!
If you're traveling with your dog it can be tempting to just hit the road with no plan and let the road take you. Don't do it! Plan a route. How long will you drive each day? How often will you need to stop for some fresh air and a quick walk? Where will you stop? Can you take your dog everywhere you want to go?
Plan your trip with your dog in mind before you leave. Decide where you will stop, make sure every place you want to visit along the way will allow pets, pick up all up-to-date medications from your vet, purchase seat belts for your pets. Plan it all!
Once you arrive at your destination, give your dog some time to get situated in his/her new environment before you get settled. Let your pup sniff, relieve themselves appropriately, engage in natural behaviors such as running, digging, chewing etc. This will lower stress levels. It's a new strange place so let your dog check it out!
I would highly recommend having a few of your dog's toys or new toys on hand as well as treats and enrichment toys. Let your dog choose the activity he or she desires. And if you've missed regular meal time - feed your dog some food and water.
One thing that is extremely important when traveling with your dog on a trip is to keep some semblance of your normal routine. Bring their regular food, don't change it. Bring familiar items and bedding if possible. A new toy may catch their interest and distract them from the change.
Always make sure your dog can see you and maintain eye contact with you (or another family member). Your dog should always feel safe being able to look at you for direction or reassurance. If your dog is crated or confined to a certain area, be sure to go for walks and spend as much time as you can with them.
Pack your pup's food, favorite toys, enrichment toys, and bed. When you arrive at your destination, let your dog check the place out. Give your dog food and water and let him/her pick a toy to play with to get settled.
Safety first, no matter where you are. Many dogs (yes, even your perfectly well-trained dog) like to explore. Double check everything before letting them stick their nose in too many unknown crevices. Can your dog access any wires, dangerous areas of the campground? Do you have a safe place to tether your dog's long leash? Can your dog reach the fire? Will your dog run out the door if it opens? Are cars zipping by?
Expect issues. Things will go wrong, maybe something small but maybe something big. Here are just a few of the things that went wrong with my recent move from California to Colorado and how we combated the dogs becoming overly stressed:
This could also apply to raccoons, deer, bunnies, other dogs or any animals that are in nature if you are camping or visiting somewhere in nature. Do you know how your dogs will react? Have you gone through my recall guide?
Overprepare for your trips. Buy extra food before you leave, just in case. Check out all new environments thoroughly before letting your dogs explore freely. Always think about safety for your pet first and how situations that arise will affect them.
All in all, traveling with dogs (or without) on vacation or even just going on a road trip can be stressful but if you prepare and do your prep work it should be F.U.N!!!
If you want traveling with your dog to be successful, think of your dog first. What does your dog need? What in the environment will cause stress or harm? Because if your dog is upset, you will be upset too...and the whole point of going on a trip with your dog is to enjoy each other!
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You're now ready for a road trip with your dog! Before you leave, there are a few trainings in the Manners Channel here on Dogly that would be really beneficial to work on with your dog. In Basic Manners, the Dogly Training Advocates teach you how to train your dog to stay even with distractions and happily go to his/her bed or mat when asked. The guides in Food Manners teach you how to train your dog not to steal food or beg.
Dive into any of the guides in this Manners Channel or I'm always happy to work with you 1-1 if you'd like more personalized training.
DISCLAIMER: The content of this website and community is based on the research, expertise, and views of each respective author. Information here is not intended to replace your one-on-one relationship with your veterinarian, but as a sharing of information and knowledge to help arm dog parents to make more informed choices. We encourage you to make health care decisions based on your research and in partnership with your vet. In cases of distress, medical issues, or emergency, always consult your veterinarian.