Going on a road trip is undeniably one of the greatest all-American pastimes. Ever since the invention of the modern automobile, millions of city-dwellers have taken to the open roads each year to escape from their congested streets and crowded sidewalks. It’s an activity that’s always been considered freeing, even romantic to a certain extent.
A lot of dog owners have chosen to deprive themselves of this, though. It’s easy to see why, too. After all, traveling a long distance in a car can be incredibly stressful for pets, and most pet parents simply don’t want to put their fur babies through such a gauntlet.
Fortunately, with a bit of forethought and careful preparation, you absolutely can bring your furry friend along on your next road-tripping adventure. Car seat belts for your dogs are easy enough to procure nowadays, as well as everything you’ll need to keep them safe, comfortable, and happy while you travel. Before you throw your essential dog accessories into the trunk of your car, though, read on below for our tips:
Prepare for the Journey Ahead
Ensuring that your trip with your pet goes off without a hitch should start long before you hit the road. As with most things, getting used to staying in a car for long periods is something that your fur baby will have to learn first. The biggest challenge that you’ll have to overcome here is if your pet has formed negative associations with being in your vehicle. This usually happens if they’ve only been in it for trips to the vet or other unpleasant experiences.
You can rid your pet of these associations gradually. Start by sitting in the car with them while it’s parked in the driveway. Make sure to pour on the affection and give them a couple of treats before exiting the vehicle. Keep at this routine until they become comfortable enough to be taken on short trips out, slowly lengthening the time they spend in the car each time.
Another thing that you can do to prepare your pet for a long journey is to get them microchipped or tattooed for identification purposes. This can help dramatically increase the chances of getting your pet back should they run off and get lost. While you’re at it, make sure their travel tags and collars are updated with your active contact information.
Consider a Carrier
No matter how safely you think you drive, you never really know when accidents can happen. The safest way to keep your pet from sustaining injuries while riding in your car is to keep them in a travel crate or a carrier. Make sure that it’s well-ventilated and big enough for your dog—they shouldn’t have any trouble standing, sitting, lying down, or turning around in it.
If your pet is too large for a crate, you may want to consider getting them custom dog seat belts. These accessories can be attached to your car’s existing seatbelt receptacles, making it easier to safely secure your pooch in the back seat. In addition to giving you additional peace of mind, keeping your furry best friend restrained like this while you drive can also help reduce their anxiety or any symptoms of motion sickness they might feel.
Keep Them Off the Front Seats
As much as you might want to keep your most trusted four-legged co-pilot by your side, understand this: the front seats are no place for a pet. You should never drive with them on the passenger seat or your lap, period. It doesn’t matter if your dog is big enough to use the passenger side seatbelt or if you’ve bought them one that’s specially designed for pets. There’s no telling how they could injure themselves if they managed to work their way over or under its restraint, or if the airbag were to suddenly deploy.
That being said, you should also make sure that every part of your pet’s body stays inside the vehicle at all times while you’re driving. It’s never a good idea to let your dog’s head hang out an open window, no matter how cute the image might seem on TV. They could get hit by flying objects like this and you may find yourself taking a detour to the vet instead of heading to your destination.
When it comes to traveling long distances in a car with your fur baby, many of the same common-sense rules for riding in a car apply. Never leave them roaming freely inside of the vehicle, pack their favorite comfort items, and be prepared for the occasional bout of car sickness. Beyond that, bring plenty of food and water, take frequent rest stops for some exercise and playtime, and have fun!