You’ve never taken pooch with you on vacation before, but you’re thinking the time is right. He’s a little older and a little better trained. Traveling with Pooch by car can be very rewarding and fun. It also takes some advanced planning so you and your pup can have a safe, comfortable ride. One item you will want to take along is a reliable dog carrier to keep pooch secure while in the car. Here are a few other tips for a successful trip.
1. Desensitize Pooch to reduce his stress level. Several weeks before your departure date, begin getting your dog acquainted with the sorts of things he might come across on vacation. First, expose him to a variety of humans: children and older folks, thin and heavy people, those with eyeglasses, with canes, or in wheelchairs. If your dog is familiar with different looking people before going away, he’ll be much more comfortable when meeting them in new surroundings. It’s also important for your dog to be at ease around other animals. If you haven’t already, spend some time at your local dog park so pooch can get friendly with other canines. It’s a good idea to introduce him to horses, cats, and other animals as well.
2. Introduce pooch to new surfaces and sounds. Your dog might find some new situations strange, so be sure your pet is comfortable stepping on all types of surfaces. He might find floor grates, elevators, and escalators very scary. It’s important for your canine traveler to build up a tolerance to traffic noise, especially if he is used to a more rural, tranquil environment. Desensitize pooch by taking car rides on a highly trafficked thoroughfare. Open the windows to let the noise in. Work up to a walk along a busy street.
3. Your pooch might be an adventurous eater and want to try the local canine cuisine, but a sudden change of diet could give him diarrhea. So when traveling avoid food that he normally doesn’t eat. Play it safe and give him food he is used to. If it’s a short trip, take along his regular dog food. On longer trips take enough of your pet’s food to mix gradually with whatever he will be eating. This also goes for water. Take a supply of pooch’s usual drinking water. After 24 to 36 hours, start mixing it gradually with the new water he’ll be sipping.
4. Be sure that pooch has a safe ride. Car seats are required for children and dogs are no different. Crates are great, but dog carriers, car seats or a safety harness attached to your vehicle’s seat belt are also excellent alternatives. These safety devices keep your pet from interfering with or distracting the driver (you!) and also may save her life in the event of an accident. Your dog will also not be able to break free and run away the second you open the car door.
5. Never allow your dog to ride in the bed of a pickup truck. In some states it’s illegal. She can jump out or be thrown which is pure danger to her or others on the road. Harnessing or leashing your dog to the truck bed is not a good idea either. If she tries to jump out, she could be dragged along the road or the restraint could get tangled around her neck.
6. No matter how enjoyable it may seem, don’t let your pooch stick his head out the window to feel the breeze and check out the sights. Road debris and other flying objects can injure delicate eyes and ears and cause dryness and irritation. Your dog is also at greater risk for severe injury if your car should stop suddenly or be struck by another vehicle. If it is hot outside, run the air conditioner instead of opening windows and be sure that the air flow is reaching your pet.
7. Try to stop every two to four hours to stretch and take a break from driving. Plan ahead and visit rest stops along your route every four to six hours so your pet can get a drink of water and get the chance to answer the call of nature. Most rest stops have a space for dogs to relieve themselves and take a romp. Remember to bring along lots of doggy bags to pick up after pooch.
8. Be sure your dog is on a leash before opening the car door so she doesn’t break free and run away. If you’ve ever been in the car with your pup before, you know how eager she can be to get out! Even the most obedient dog may become disoriented when traveling to unfamiliar places and take off for home.
9. If your dog is traveling for the first time or is not used to traveling on a regular basis, use a harness instead of a collar. It is much harder for a pooch to wriggle out of a harness.
10. Never leave an animal in a parked car, even if you’ve left the windows partially opened. Even on pleasant days, the temperature inside a car can soar to well over 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes, placing your pet at risk for heatstroke or possibly death. On very cold days, hypothermia is a risk. Also, animals left unattended in parked cars frequently are stolen.
Whether it’s a short day excursion or longer road trip, by following these simple suggestions you and your dog will have a great ride!