Road Trip With Your Dog

by DFS-Pet-Blog on December 18, 2009

**Guest post from Ellen B.**

This past holiday we took our dog, Kobe, with us to visit our relatives. I was a bit worried how Kobe would handle his first long car ride. He loves to go for rides around town, but an 11 hour ride is a pretty different scenario. I tend to be on the safe side, so I prepared for worst case: car sickness, restlessness and anxiety. Let me mention…there were four people and one dog in the car, so room was at a premium.

Suggested Supplies for Traveling With a Dog

  • Identification Tags: I put this one first because I feel it’s very important. Either attach a temporary cell phone number (or destination info) to your pet’s regular ID tag, or better yet get a name tag just for your trip. ID tags are inexpensive and priceless if your dog gets lost at any point while away from home.
  • Dog car ride

  • Car Restraint – Whether going on a short ride in town, or a long trip, Kobe is always “buckled up” in the car. An unrestrained dog in a car can easily get hurt in quick stops, as well as hurting the driver or other passengers. I have a Kwik Connect Tether and find it really convenient. There are other styles of dog car restraints, find one that fits your style.

The following items I kept handy in a backpack so it was easy to grab at rest stops and our destination.

  • Leash – You’ll likely need to stop at rest stops so your dog can stretch his/her legs and potty. Even the most disciplined dog could take off in a strange environment, so keep your dog on a leash at all times. This is often required by law at public rest stops.
  • Water and Bowl – I brought bottled water and a covered drinking container. Offer your dog water before a planned rest stop. Pour it in a covered container so leftovers can be sealed and offered later. Or, take the easy route with this Handi-Drink Pet Water Bottle.
  • Dog Treats – Dogs always love treats! They can be used as a reward at rest stops or as a distraction from boredom or restlessness.
  • Rescue RemedyCalming Aid – I brought Rescue Remedy and Comfort Zone travel wipes. It turned out that Kobe didn’t really get anxious during the ride, but I didn’t know that before I left home. My philosophy was it was better to be prepared than to be on the road with a anxious dog. However, the Rescue Remedy did come in handy at our destination.
  • Dog food and Travel Bowl – Bring your dog’s regular food to avoid any digestive problems. Keeping it in a zip lock plastic bag with a measuring cup worked great for me. Not knowing how Kobe’s stomach would handle a long ride, I hesitated to feed him during the drive. It was suggested to me to feed him as close to his normal schedule as possible. However, the first night we were only in the middle of our ride at dinner time. I just fed him a light dinner at the regular feeding time, and then gave him the remainder once we got to our destination.
  • Rags – In case of water spills or vomiting, I was prepared with disposable rags. We were lucky enough to not need them, but that’s never a given. This article from offers more information on car sickness.
  • Busy Buddy Bouncy Dog Bone

    Busy Buddy Bouncy Dog Bone

    Toys – I decided to bring one of Kobe’s favorite toys, the Bouncy Ball Chew Toy. It especially came in handy in keeping Kobe entertained when we were snacking ourselves.
  • Pillow – Kobe often laid on a pillow on our lap so he could see out the window. It was comfortable for both him and us.
  • Blanket or Car Seat Cover – A blanket on Kobe’s part of the car seat kept it protected. This came in particularly handy because it was raining a good portion of the ride, and at rest stops he came back into the car a little wet!

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Dog Car Safety: 3 Tips for Dog Car Safety |
December 27, 2012 at 1:19 pm

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie December 18, 2009 at 8:29 am

Perfect timing as we get ready to drive for Christmas visits. Good list, like the backpack idea to keep everything handy.

Chris January 21, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Really helfpul article! Our dog tends to vomit, so he we don´t really feed him when we go on a trip, he gets his food once we get to our destination. He seems to be ok with that, I give him a treat when we stop for breaks, and water of course. We try to make our breaks at least 30 minutes, os he has time to move around (and the kids apreciate it too!)

Bonnie Ramba May 26, 2010 at 8:47 pm

I was glad to see this very helpful article. We all want our dogs to have a good vacation too! Rescue Remedy is a fantastic product and I am happy to see it featured here. It’s been a lifesaver for one of my greyhounds who is terrified of thunderstorms!

Patricia May 27, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I was glad you had this article. I have been thinking of going on vacation and would love to bring my dog. Thinking his first time away from home might be the beach in the fall. Now to find a seatbelt and travel bowl.

Ruby Kelsey May 27, 2011 at 2:12 pm

They are a part of the family, of course they have to stay safe!

Jessicca Patterson May 27, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Being away at college, I travel home fairly frequently, and a car harness would be great for Geoffrey, as he always travels with me. This way I know he would be safe, and I could roll down the window to let him get some air without the fear of him accidentally climbing his way out. And I would also be less worried about him trying to climb onto my lap as I’m driving.

Rachel Coutermarsh May 27, 2011 at 2:20 pm

With my rescue we always have pets traveling. We have therapy dogs that go to nursing homes, etc. What a great way to keep your loved one safe, healthy and happy. thank you

Sherri O. May 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I would love to win one of these in the Memorial Day weekend giveaways!

Ashlee May 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm

This is amazing as we travel A LOT! We go to michigan in the summer and our english bull terrier gets a little ahead of himself by getting excited, then hes all over the car because he’s so excited to be going some place.

Tu Nguyen May 27, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Very helpful article indeed.

Michelle S May 27, 2011 at 2:37 pm

All dogs need to be buckled up! We don’t want our furry friends getting hurt!

Julie May 27, 2011 at 3:08 pm

My husband and I love the seat belt restraint for dogs. It has come in really handy a couple of times we had to slam the brakes on.

Jill Butler May 27, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Is your dog afraid of his crate during travel? use a seatbelt so he can see all the great sights

Linda May 27, 2011 at 3:44 pm

My Emma goes everywhere with me in the car…She loves to ride!! This is a great article!! I now carry alot of the suggestions mention in her bag..Thank so much for sharing this with us!

Devri Owens May 27, 2011 at 4:19 pm

We don’t take our dogs on very many long road trips because they have never been restrained in the car. We are planning on getting a newer car and some dog seats for them to travel in for safety. I think this harness would be a perfect way to start in training them to stay restrained in the car!

Marva Gresham May 27, 2011 at 7:37 pm

I think all dogs should be in some type of dog restraint while riding in a car. I would love to try Kwik Connect Tether.

Susan McPherson May 27, 2011 at 7:46 pm

My one dog gets terribly car sick so the vet recommended Cerenia. Half a tablet for his weight lasts 24 hrs. Now we can travel with ease.

Joan May 28, 2011 at 4:50 am

This is a really cool way to keep my pup safe in the car and he loves to go for a car ride.

Robin May 28, 2011 at 11:35 am

I’ve never taken my dog on a long road trip, but I do worry when we are on short trips, you never know what might happen. I would be interested in giving this a try.

Susan Abbott May 28, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I would love to win the Pet Buckle Seat Belt Harness & Kwik Connect Tether as our doggie seat belt recently wore out and we haven’t been able to get another one and the doggies are missing going for rides in the car.

ken snapp May 28, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Driving miss daisy dukes

Jennifer Benson May 28, 2011 at 8:22 pm

My dogs travel with me from the city to the coast. Tethering my Lab in the car via a harness would mean I could remove his big crate & we’d have more room. My Papillon rides in her tiny crate. Harness’ tangle her silky coat. I don’t let them hang their heads out of car windows, in order to prevent eye injuries. We love road trips , short or long!

kendall May 28, 2011 at 8:26 pm

this is a great idea our english bulldog loves going on rides but we have to limit them due to him not being restrained like we would like. we are looking into getting one especially during the summer and we will be traveling so much with him!!!

Dayna K. May 28, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Great article! I would be so happy if I won.

Jacqueline Boller May 28, 2011 at 8:39 pm

I also brought along my doggy’s doggy bed so that she would feel right at home during the drive.

Elizabeth Jorgensen May 28, 2011 at 8:46 pm

I’d love to win this. Here is my traveling story: With big brown eyes—and his curly golden tail wagging—he stared at me. Taking him home from the Humane Society, I glanced down at his strangely large paws. And his even larger ears. He was supposed to be a small dog—no more than fifteen pounds. But as things always go with Branyan, he outdid expectations and he grew. And grew. And grew.
Russell “THE MUSCLE” Branyan is the ballplayer who gets up and swings for the fences. Week after week, at every at bat, Branyan brings a strikeout or a homerun. And that’s the way it’s always been with my Branyan too (even though he stands much closer to the ground, and he grows out his fur—instead of his beard—for the playoffs).

In terms of grown, Branyan swung for the fences. My Branyan and his large paws grew through the first, second and third kennel. He grew as he panted, as he chased and as he ate through my bedroom wall, my living room carpet, and even a pot roast at a company party.

After the fifth month of cleaning up urine, re-patching the walls and purchasing more socks, I lost it. “He’s going back to the Humane Society,” I screamed at my husband in between tears.

My husband, with far more patience for home-bound animals, assured me Branyan would learn: “I’ll clean it up. Let’s give him a few more days…This is just what puppies do. Why don’t you take him to a training class?”

So Branyan and I traveled the two miles to his first disastrous puppy class. But Branyan was out of sorts. He hid under my chair the entire class and shook.

“It’s okay. Just let him figure out his surroundings. Try coaxing him out with a treat,” the instructor said.

I tried. And tried. And tried. But Branyan just hid.

The second time Branyan and I attended class, he was better. But still, he was nowhere near good. The instructor suggested I up the treats. So I purchased hot dogs. When that didn’t work, I upped the treats to peanut butter. When that didn’t work, I upped the treats to cheese. And when that didn’t work, I resorted to homemade chicken cigars. My vegetarian stomach was tested. But Branyan and I practiced and practiced.

By week three, Branyan was himself at puppy class. He was running around the room, ignoring me, the instructor and the pull of the leash. Branyan was swinging for doggy detention. But the chicken cigars were working.

But still, Branyan and I went home and practiced again: heel, sit, come, stay, and lie down. But as soon as the homemade chicken cigar was out of sight, Branyan’s hearing was too.
The instructor, the week before scolded me: “because Mom is so worked up, so is Branyan.”
So the next week, I stocked up on chicken cigars and walked in with a positive attitude. But Branyan walked in with a mind of his own and decided to defecate in the middle of the classroom.

And again the instructor scolded me: “Please do not take your dog off the leash. I do not want any more accidents.”

Class continued and then around week six, the instructor gave the pups a few minutes of playtime. But Branyan, going all out, didn’t allow it to last. Five minutes in, we were asked to leave: Branyan was too rough.

I decided obedience wasn’t Branyan’s thing. So we signed up for agility. Sadly, this resulted in another frustrated dog trainer and a time out—for both me and Branyan. This trainer made us sit in the corner—facing the corner—for ten minutes. Mortified, I didn’t want to go back, but my husband continued to encourage me and Branyan.

Slowly—very slowly—my little Muscle grew on me. He started obeying the yard boundaries. When I came home from work, his tail wiggled faster and faster. He even would come without a treat.

I was apprehensive to have a dog, but Branyan and I bonded like I never knew a person and an animal could. I cannot imagine my life without him and our travels to and from puppy obedience and agility. I cannot imagine still being here without him. He brings joy, laughter, and optimism to my home. He has an infectious smile, he is grateful, he’s never sad, he is always willing to listen, he puts me before himself, he encourages me to exercise, he’s never disappointed in me, he’s affectionate, he loves to party and play and he’s never afraid to kiss me or show me his love.

But Branyan and I didn’t a fairytale, World Series win.

About six months ago, I found love notes written from my husband to another woman. After months of counseling, my once patient and encouraging husband said he didn’t want to be with me…and he filed for divorce.

I fell into all-encompassing depression.
Through it all, Branyan was the reason for me to get out of bed; and was the reason for my smiles, laughter and joy amidst the chaos. He has not only given me a reason to live, but he’s made a joyful life possible again.

And at the end of each day, I continue to be in love with him because he’s my loyal companion, because he gives me unconditional love, and because he’s my protector and my joy.

And that’s why in my heart—even if Branyan swings for the fences, and misses miserably—I’m smiling, happy to have him in my life.

Katie S. May 28, 2011 at 8:54 pm

This is a great article. I have been looking to get something to keep my dogs safe on car rides.

kamnel May 29, 2011 at 7:37 am

We used to have two pet buckles. Aftertrying booster seats, harnesses and all sorts of contraptions, this was the easiest, most non-invasive solution which also seemed the safest. In moving three times, we somehow managed to lose one. We would love to gave two again!

Sherry G May 29, 2011 at 8:38 am

Maddie loves to travel. She’s a good car rider and a pretty good visitor to the places we visit.

Kathy Bischoff May 29, 2011 at 9:28 am

Our dog travels everywhere with us and we travel allot. From a quick trip to the hardware store to traveling coast to coast. She loves to ride and we love it that when she is in the car she is safe. We keep her “suitcase” packed w/all the things she needs. Love the Hansi- Drink Pet water bottle/bowl/carrier. Giving her lots of water is simple in the car, and it is water from home so no stomache upsets. Great article!

Rosemary May 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm

One bit of advice for traveling that I have is DON’T ATTACH THE LEASH TO THE COLLAR WITH THE TAGS. Use another, seperate collar for the leash, in case your dog panics and manages to slip out its collar. Tags are worthless if they are attached to the empty collar at the end of your leash, instead of the collar around the dog’s neck. Trust me. Been there, done that. Was incredably lucky to get the aptly named Lucky back.

Vicki Simonis May 29, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Securing our pets for travel is extremely important. I know two people that lost their beloved family member (pet) in auto accidents. I’ve spoken to pet lovers that hadn’t thought about what would happen in the event of an accident. We all know how much our pets love to go for rides. It can be an internal conflict in regard to restraining our pets for safety reasons and not wanting to take away their freedom to stick their heads out the window to enjoy all of their senses, ears flying in the wind. I believe a healthy compromise can be reached. Please consider the importance of our choices. Sincerely, Vicki Simons

Jamie May 29, 2011 at 1:02 pm

I never take my Lab any where in the car with out her seat-belted in! However harness is now 7 years old an worn out, would love to win a new one!!

Becky H. May 30, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Excellent idea for dogs who like car rides!

Stacy White May 30, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Yay for seat belts!

Anita PH May 30, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Great article…We have two small dogs, so we often bring one of their airline travel crates. The safety and security of the crate often calms them down and we found one of them sleeping in it during the trip – no calming aid needed!

Vickie Shelton May 31, 2011 at 8:34 am

One thing I would add is to carry copies of your pet’s vet records in case the unexpected happens.

Andi Marus May 31, 2011 at 10:34 am

Our Cocker Spaniel is getting a little bit too big for her travel crate (really, our cat’s crate!), and so a harness would be a lovely way to keep her safe without having to hoist her adult sized crate into the car. She’ll also get to look out the window, which she loves!

Ellen B. May 31, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Congratulations to Andi Marus who won a PetBuckle Brand seat belt harness/tether from our Memorial Day Weekend Giveaway! Thank you to all who participated! Andi, I will contact you by email to get your shipping info.

Andi Marus May 31, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Thank you so much, Ellen! I’m excited to try this!

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