Top 10 tips for road-tripping with your dog

Princess Cuddle-Face Buttercup is part of the family and it’s not really a family holiday if she can’t come along. Some of our best memories are made during the summer holidays and we want our fur-kids to be part of those memories. With a bit of planning, taking them along for the ride doesn’t need to be stressful. Here are our 10 best tips for road-tripping with Rufus.

1. Find the right accommodation

Many self-catering holiday spots in SA will allow well-trained dogs to accompany their families. Best is to call ahead and confirm before making the long journey.

2. Pack a doggy bag

It’s often a mad dash to get everyone packed up and bundled in to head on the long road. Popping a few essentials into a doggy bag will make the trip with your pooch a lot more comfortable for both of you. Here’s a checklist:

  1. Fresh water
  2. Water bowl
  3. Food
  4. Poop bags
  5. Leash and collar or harness with an ID tag
  6. Medication
  7. Copy of their vet card
  8. Travel crate
  9. Dog bed, towel or blanket
  10. Toys or boredom busters

3. Use a carrier / travel crate

If your dog is crate-trained, this will be an easy transition and will help them remain calm during the journey. The crate should be a safe space that will help keep your dog out of everyone’s hair during the journey. If your dog is not crate-trained, a pet seat belt is essential. Remember your dog doesn’t understand that you’re driving and can easily cause an accident by jumping on your lap or under the pedals.

4. Make regular stops

It’s important for the two-legged and four-legged adventurers to make regular stops to stretch their legs, get a quick loo break and freshen up before getting back on the road. Make sure to keep your dog on a leash when at rest stops and give them a chance to potty before heading off.

5. No big meals

Don’t feed your dog a big meal before a long drive. Instead, break meals up into smaller snacks and use as training treats during rest stops. This will help prevent motion sickness and give them some mental stimulation to break up the boredom of a long journey.

6. Get them micro-chipped

Micro-chipped pets have a far higher chance of making it home to their families if they find themselves lost. Make sure to have your dog micro-chipped before taking them on holiday. If your pet is already microchipped, make sure your information is up to date.

7. Test driving

If your dog isn’t used to being in the car for long periods, take them for a few test drives before embarking on a long journey to see if they manage without too much fuss. If they find the experience very stressful, consult your vet about natural calming remedies to help them along.

8. Potty with purpose

Training your dog to relieve themselves on command is very useful, especially during the puppy months. It’s also great for travelling as you don’t have hours to spend at the rest stop waiting for PeeWee to make a wee-wee. Simple treat-based reward training for elimination is a great place to start.

9. Keep them busy

Distracting your dog with boredom busters – stuffed toys and few good chewies – will help prevent boredom and also keep them calm.

10. Know your surroundings

Before you head off, make a note of the vets and animal clinics in the area you’ll be staying. Have the number saved on your phone in case of an emergency. If you have pet insurance, give them a call to say you’re going on holiday and make sure you’re covered.