So you and your pooch decided to take a road trip, eh? Perhaps you’re looking to take in the last bit of whatever beautiful weather we have left before the snow falls or perhaps Sparky decided to get in on that #Canada150 and #ExploreCanada hashtag game for her Instagram – whatever the reason may be, one thing is for sure: you must be prepared.
Sure, it may look like going on a long road trip with a dog is a piece of cake on TV – they just hop in the front seat and set off on a long road of laughs and quality time while their doggo’s head is out the window, the wind blowing her hair and waving her tongue around better than Mariah Carey’s hair in a music video – but if you’re not ready, you’re in for a really, really long trip – and not in a good way!
Here are a few things to know while preparing for that perfect long road trip with Sparky:
1. Get your dog’s documents ready
You never know what’s going to happen while you’re on the road, so it’s good to be prepared with all your dog’s information, such as: medical information, including vaccination history; license number; veterinarian’s contact information; health issues and medication list; medical insurance information; and if applicable, microchip number and the company it’s registered to.
2. Make sure your dog is road trip ready
Being on the road may give your dog motion sickness or anxiety, especially if they aren’t used to traveling in a vehicle. Take a few short test drives a few days before, about 15 to 20 minutes long, just to see how your dog responds. Increase it to about an hour or so the next time.
Some dogs just need to get used to it, and some may never even have a problem, but if after a few times your dog still gets sick, talk to the vet to see what kinds of medication are available for motion sickness.
Maybe your dog isn’t motion sick, but rather gets nervous or gets anxiety – try working on desensitization by taking shorter trips and giving rewards for jumping into the car and again for jumping out when the drive is done. Again, if it’s a severe case, talk to the vet about safe supplements or sedatives that can aide in a calm trip.
3. Pack well
Imagine you went on a long drive with no toothbrush and toothpaste, no change of clothing, no clean underwear, and no money to buy it with – you’d probably have a pretty crappy time (no pun)!
Just like you, Sparky has needs. There are certain things that your dog will need packed to make for a more comfortable, hassle-free and enjoyable trip. Here are a few ideas:
- Leash and collar with ID tags
- Favourite treats
- Enough food for the trip and a food bowl
- Lots of water and a water bowl (a travel water bowl is also helpful)
- Favourite toys
- Waste bags
- A sleeping pad or bed and blanket
4. SOS (Safety Over Snapchat)
Just like human passengers need to be buckled up in a seatbelt, your dog must be in a harness or a crate and no body parts should be out the window. With that being said, while videos and photos of your dog doing Mariah Carey with his or her ears and tongue in the wind are super-cute and totally Instagram and Snapchat worthy, it’s not allowed. There have been way too many incidents of dogs falling out of moving vehicles or even getting sideswiped by another car driving too close – you don’t want to put your dog in any such risk!
The same thing goes for sitting your dog on your lap while you drive. Most people consider their dogs like their children – simply put: you wouldn’t place your child on your lap as you drive because (even though all dogs go there) heaven forbid, you get into an accident, your dog would fly straight through the windshield.
5. Be courteous and make it comfortable
Be a good travelling partner – just because you don’t have to use the bathroom, stop to stretch or have some water, it doesn’t mean Sparky doesn’t want to. Stop every couple of hours or so to reset. Take your dog for a quick walk to stretch out, relieve him or herself, and have some water.
When stopping, make sure to also check whether it’s too hot or too cold for your dog back there – yes, as in the back seat. Your dog will want more room to lie on than just the small, one-tushy front passenger seat.
Keep all the sound at the front of the car. Dogs have really sensitive ears, so blasting Justin Bieber’s Friends may be fun for you, but really uncomfortable and annoying to Sparky.
6. Always have fun!
Have fun! Take tons of pictures and videos of the trip for “Sparky’s social media”, but just not while you’re driving – accidents are no fun! And always remember: SOS: Safety Over Snapchat!