Most dogs, like most humans, love a good road trip. If you plan to hit the highway with your best friend, there are a number of things you can do to keep him safe and happy on your trek.
Provide easy access
Young, healthy dogs generally have no problem getting into and out of a car. But older dogs or those with impaired mobility may struggle. And if your dog is a large breed, it may be difficult for you to lift him. On a short trip to the dog park and back, this may not present much of an issue. On a road trip with many stops along the way, however, it can become a challenge. Consider taking a short ramp or some type of step with you to provide easier access.
Restrict his exit
Access considerations for your road trip go both ways. Even the best-behaved dogs can be tempted into leaping from a car. You should harness or crate your dog when you travel (see below), but if you don’t, keep your windows up far enough to prevent escape. Yes, he loves to put his head out the window, but don’t let the rest of him follow it.
Keep him in the back seat
Just like you make your small children ride in the back seat, you should do the same with your dog. The hard dashboard and/or airbags in the front seat pose a serious risk of injury or death for your pet. Dogs in the front seat can also distract the driver. A dog allowed to ride in the driver’s lap poses an especially serious hazard.
Harness or crate him
Dogs are safest in the car when wearing a harness that connects to a seatbelt, or in a crate belted in place. Rover might enjoy the freedom to move around in the car, but in the case of sudden braking or swerving, or a collision, he can suffer serious harm or become a missile that causes harm to other occupants. If you love him, restrain him.
Make frequent potty/exercise stops
Long periods of forced inactivity can produce stress in a pet. Stop often and let him out of the car to stretch his legs. Traveling can also affect a pet’s routines, so don’t expect that a dog that can go for four or five hours without relieving himself in the house will have the same level of control on a road trip.
Be prepared for “accidents”
Nothing is worse than having a car sick dog, or one that loses control of other bodily functions, and no way to clean up. Take paper towel or rags, trash bags and spray cleaning solution with you. Having good seat covers and floor mats isn’t a bad idea either.
Dogs make great traveling companions. With just a little bit of preparation, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable road trip, for him and for you.