• Road Tripping with Your Dog

  • by Lauren Russell

Dogs are known as “Man’s Best Friend,” so it is understandable that you would want to take your dog on a road trip with you. As fun as that sounds, it may not be an enjoyable trip for your dog if you don’t take certain precautions. Here, we share a few tips for making the ride a pleasant trip for you and your travel companion.

Preparing for the Trip

You may want to consider microchipping your pet before the trip. These are implanted under the skin. Always make sure your dog’s collar tags are up-to-date with the correct address and phone number. Bring a recent picture of your dog too. If you do lose your dog, you’ll be able to show locals what it looks like.

Pack your pet’s most recent vet papers and shot records. If they are overdue for shots, get those done before your trip.

The day of departure, give your dog plenty of exercise before going in the car and having to sit for a long time. That way it may be exhausted enough to sleep during the trip. You’ll want your pet to travel with as little food in its belly as possible, so don’t feed your dog a big meal before hitting the road.

Taking Care on the Road

Just like humans, pets can get cramped up in the car. And, unlike humans, they can’t tell you when they need you to pull into the next rest area. Take numerous breaks during your trip to help your dog release pent up energy and go to the bathroom. During these breaks, give your dog some water. They can easily get dehydrated during the ride.

Never leave your dog in the car – especially in warm weather. According to the Humane Society, your car can reach 116 degrees Fahrenheit within an hour of sitting in only 72-degree weather. Leaving your windows down does not help.

Speaking of windows, it is also wise to leave windows rolled up when your dog is not restrained. He may not be brave enough to jump out while the car is in motion, but if you reach a tollway or get stuck in a traffic jam, he may jump out when the car is not in motion. And if the car is moving, you may want to keep your pet from sticking his head out the window. Though it may offer pure joy for dogs to feel the breeze against their snout, it puts them in danger of getting things in their eyes or getting hit in the snout with road debris.


Some people wonder whether they should crate their dog or let it sit in the backseat, unrestrained. Cesar Millan recommends crating your dog to keep you and your pet from becoming distracted. This also helps prevent your dog from flying out of its seat if you stop suddenly.

Some dogs may prefer staying in the crate because it makes them feel more secure. Either way, you should never put a negative connotation on the crate for the dog. Millan suggests that you always speak in uplifting tones when referring to the crate and allow the dog to enter it on his own. You may even want to keep a favorite toy or blanket inside, though make sure there is nothing that could cause accidental strangulation.

Road Trip with Dog