Road Tripping with Dogs
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14 Tips for Road Tripping With Dogs

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This article lists invaluable tips for road tripping with dogs.

Dogs are “man’s best friend” – and it’s no wonder why. They provide companionship, comfort, and love.  Dogs also offer a sense of security in times of need. They can even be trained to do all sorts of things to help people with disabilities or special needs. It’s easy to see why road tripping with dogs sounds like a great idea.

It’s not always so straightforward, unfortunately. Dogs can become anxious in unfamiliar situations. There are also different rules to know about, depending on your mode of travel.

The good news is there are some easy ways to prevent anxiety and stress when road tripping with dogs – for both you and them!

Here are 14 invaluable tips for taking a road trip with a dog.

[Taking a road trip with the family? Don’t forget your Family Road Trip Packing List!]

Table of Contents

Tips for Road Tripping with Dogs [Taking a Road Trip with Dog]

Road Tripping with Dogs - Water

Bring Plenty of Water and Food

It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to feeding your pet during a road trip with dog. It may turn out that you can’t find a meal or water station and it’s not worth the risk of your dog becoming dehydrated or suffering from low blood sugar. Bringing extra water and food is the top tip for road tripping with dogs.

Keep Your Pets Tags Updated

When road tripping with dogs, be sure your pet is wearing appropriate identification at all times. Nothing runs a road trip with dog faster than losing your furry friend. Have up-to-date tags with both your contact information and their microchip ID. Also, consider using a temporary pet tag displaying any important information just in case their regular tag gets lost.

Use a Leash

Road Tripping with Dogs - Leash

Your furry friend should always be kept on a leash during your road trip with your dog – especially in public places. They are more likely to bolt in an unfamiliar place and, because it is a new scene, get lost. Help avoid this while road tripping with dogs by always using a leash. If your dog is constantly straining against the leash or trying to break free from you, try using a harness instead.

Travel with Anti-Anxiety Treatments

If your dog gets anxious around new people, places, or animals, consider packing a dose of anti-anxiety medication [ex. Xanax for dogs]. Please don’t attempt to sedate your pet without first consulting with their vet. Their guidance is imperative to make sure you’re administering it safely and responsibly. They’ll be able to tell you exactly when and how to use the medication.

It’s also important that you’re aware of any potential side effects before doing it on a road trip with dog. Tammy Hunter, DVM, advises: “Be sure to provide a dose at home as a “dry run” ahead of your trip in order to know how your dog will react to the medication.”

More natural options are available too! Try using herbal calming treats that are made with hemp. [Again, please run this by your vet before feeding this to your four-legged family member.]

Keep Your Furry Friend Close

Dogs love running off ahead of their owners, chasing after squirrels, and exploring everything they can get their paws on at every turn. Even more so during a road trip with dog! However, it’s best to keep your pet close to you at all times while traveling. It may be difficult for your dog to adjust to new environments and situations if he’s allowed to dawdle around, sniff every single corner of a place or dart off after another animal.

Take Them Out Before The Trip Starts

Before heading out on a long trip, or even a short one, take your pup for a quick walk so they can relieve themselves and have some fun outside. Getting rid of excess energy before departing will help reduce the risk of motion sickness as well as accidents during transportation. No one wants an unexpected mess!

You should also allow plenty of time between getting ready and leaving. It can take your dog a while to get comfortable with the interior of a vehicle, especially if they’ve never experienced riding one before.

Make Sure Your Pup is Vaccinated

Dogs should be kept current on all necessary vaccinations before travel. This means having your dog’s rabies vaccine up to date as well as making certain his other vaccines are good for the period you’ll be gone. Some dogs will also need their anti-tick and/or anti-flea medication administered, depending on where you’re headed. Don’t forget to bring proof of their vaccination on your road trip with dog too!

Keep Your Road Trip with Dog Short

While taking an extended vacation may sound like fun for you and Fido, try limiting your trips to 2-3 days at most. At least initially while getting used to road trips. It takes dogs several hours to adjust themselves to a new environment, and the longer you stay with them the more stressed out they’ll become. Once your pup and you are experts at road tripping with dogs, you can stretch your travel to longer durations.

Take Familiar Items On Your Road Trip with Dog

Road tripping with dogs life hack: pack multiple copies of your dog’s favorite toys along with a plush bed or small blanket that smells like home to help them feel comfortable during their trip. You may also want to have something of yours on hand for him, such as an old T-shirt or sweatshirt so he can sleep with it at night in case your sleeping arrangements are separate. It will help calm them while you’re away.

Make Frequent Stops

Stop for potty breaks every couple of hours at a minimum. If you’re stopping more frequently than is needed, you’re probably making the right amount of stops. Bonus points if you can take your dogs for walks or playtime during the trip too before getting back on the road! It will help with their rest and reduce restlessness and upset.

Don’t Forget the Disposable Bags

Disposable bags have all kinds of uses when you’re taking a road trip with a dog. Need to scoop poop? Disposable bag. Doggie have an “upheaval” in the car? Disposable bag. Need to store all the toys and treats? Disposable bag. They can really come in handy during your road trip so be sure to pack them in the car.

Use Your Common Sense

If there are specific rules set out by your destination that prohibit certain breeds of dogs from entering, don’t try smuggling Fido in. Chances are they’ll be turned away at the door. If it’s incredibly hot and you’re at risk for dehydration, then your dog is too. Same for extremely cold weather. Just be prepared to make decisions on your dog’s behalf that are for their benefit by using your common sense.

Stay Positive

Your pup will take a lot of cues from you and will follow your lead. The more calm and collected you are, the less stressed they are likely to be.

Compile Your Resources

Don’t go on your road trip with dog unprepared! Make a list of contact numbers for pet care facilities in the area you’ll be visiting ahead of time so you can quickly find someone who can assist if needed. Make note of emergency vets, local dog parks, and pet boarding facilities.


Road tripping with dogs doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Follow these invaluable tips for your road trip with dog to make the most of your trip. Whether you are just taking them out for an afternoon or if they are coming along for an extended vacation, these tips will help keep Fido feeling safe and loved no matter where he goes!

Photo by Jimmy Conover on Unsplash

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