Onyx (usually) thinks car rides are awesome. She likes sitting in the back of my truck (I keep the bench seats folded down so she has a solid surface and can’t fall on the floor) and watching/sniffing out the back window. In Husband’s car, she usually curls up on the seat or floor. Occasionally she’ll sit up and look out the window, which is our cue to roll it down for a few minutes. She sticks just her nose out the window (apparently she’s not one of those dogs that love that full blast of wind in the face).
We’re lucky that she travels well — she’s such a chill dog who doesn’t get carsick or have any issues (other than her normal anxiety about people and new things — there’s probably a part of her that’s still convinced we’re taking her somewhere to leave her forever. Oh, rescue dogs with abandonment issues). And we take her everywhere we can — most of our weekend trips that don’t involve flying are to places like my grandparent’s, where she’s welcome, or we find dog-friendly hotels and plan our days around “Do they allow dogs?”
(When we can’t take her with us, we either have friends come twice a day to feed and walk her, or we use Jamboree Pet Sitting — highly recommended, and I’m not getting anything to say that.)
Anyway, today she and I are making the trek up to Lake Tahoe for my family’s annual vacation for the week (Husband, unfortunately, couldn’t get time off work). And (even though I’m no expert), I figured this was a good time to share some tips for traveling with a dog.
Onyx is pretty easy — her bed or a blanket, her food/water bowls, food, leash/harness, poop bags, maybe a couple toys or treats. In this case I’m also bringing her swamp cooler and water bottle for possible hiking. (Also not affiliate links.) Most dogs probably need crates, too (Onyx escapes from those so we no longer bother). You don’t need that much, but do not skimp on the food — especially if your dog has a sensitive stomach or is partial to a certain type/brand. You don’t want to spend your time searching for a pet store or trying to find the right food for your pup if you run out a day or two early.
Also, if you’re worried about your leather or upholstery getting ruined, invest in some seat covers. Or get one of those doggie car seats (we’ll probably get one eventually).
Yeah, yeah, you just want to get there so you press on until your bladder’s ready to burst. Don’t do this with a dog, unless you want to clean up a mess in your back seat or give her a UTI or something. Stop every couple hours or so and let your dog walk/run around a bit, sniff stuff, and do her thing. Give her a little bit of water, too — but not too much, unless you’re positive she won’t get carsick.
I’m one of those annoying people who practically never turn on the A/C when I’m driving because I want to maximize my MPG. (I have a truck; I need every little bit I can get.) But with Onyx back there on long rides, I’ll concede. Keep your car at a comfortable temperature and remember dogs can’t sweat.
If you’re like me and just want to bring your dog everywhere you go, it’s well worth your time to search “dog friendly [whatever]” on Yelp. Find restaurants with patios or outside seating, make sure you know the pet rules of the campsite/beach/trail/whatever, and understand your dog’s temperament and tolerance of, say, large crowds or strangers. We’ve gone places only to find that they hate dogs (weirdos, we don’t want to give you business anymore anyway) and had to improvise. This sucks when we’re with other people and have to make everyone change plans to accommodate the one four-legged member of our group.
If you’re staying in a hotel, odds are you can’t leave the dog unattended in the room. If you’re staying in someone’s house, check beforehand about how you’ll handle leaving the dog if needed — do they have a fenced yard? Does the dog need to be confined to a single room or crated? Will your dog be okay left alone in a new place? (Last year, we went to my grandparent’s for Easter and left Onyx in one of the bedrooms while we were at church. She destroyed the bedroom door. So this year, Husband sat just outside the church doors with her rather than risk further property damage.)
Know what your dog can and can’t handle, know how to find places that are dog-friendly. Have a plan in case you can’t bring dogs certain places.
You’re on vacation, you want to sleep in? Cool. You dog still needs to go out and pee on stuff. He’s got a whole new territory to scope out and mark! And you, human, are the one who needs to drag your ass out of bed and escort him. At 6AM, if that’s what he’s used to.
In general, dogs like and need a regular routine to feel comfortable. Some are better at dealing with upending their routine than others, but especially when you’re bringing your pup somewhere new, try to stick to his usual walking/peeing/feeding times as much as possible.
Travel with pets? What are your best tips?