Most dog owners consider their pup to be a primary member of their family, hence the overused phrase “fur babies.” Through this scope, dogs tend to go everywhere their humans go—even on road trips.
It’s a dog lovers dream: Driving down a sunny highway while your canine crony hangs his head out the window, tongue lolling in freedom.
However, as anyone who has taken their pet on the road can attest to, it’s not all fur (typo intended) and games while en route, but many aren’t up to snuff on what exactly it entails.
Here are some tips on how to be a rover with Rover so that the next time you are standing at the crest of a landscape, you won’t be thinking, “I wish my dog could see this.”
1. Keep it Classy
Dogs are sensitive to sound, even old, seemingly deaf dogs. That new indie hit blaring through your car’s speakers sounds cacophonous to your dog’s (and many other people’s) ears. He’s already being thrown around in a car, which puts tension on his limbs and muscles, adding reverb and vocals will only further stress out his system. Make sure the music is at a reasonable volume and add a few classical tunes to your road trip playlist, research shows it’s calming to dogs.
2. Schedule Feedings
You know that scene in every PG-13 movie that involves a kid puking his guts out because he got on a carnival ride immediately after eating? That’s what you’ll see in the backseat of your car if you feed Fido too soon before takeoff. Riding can be stressful on a dog’s balance, and inevitably, their stomach; it’s best to serve the kibble at least 30 minutes to an hour before hitting the road.
3. Avoid Truck Stops
This is the most prominent recommendation a vet will make when asked for advice on dog travel. Why? Anyone who has stopped at a remote truck stop knows that they are often over-used and unkempt and of the many pups that come through are not vaccinated. Truck stops can be breeding grounds for diseases and viruses. Let your pup out every few hours but opt for a grassy viewpoint or use this app
to find a nearby dog park where he can run free for a bit.
4. Keep Him Hydrated
Dogs need eight ounces of water for every 10 pounds they are carting. Dehydration, especially in an out of routine environment, can cause wooziness, overall lethargy and a loss of appetite, leaving your pup weak and irritated—thus, ruining the road trip for you both. Be sure to add fuel to Fido just as you do your car.
5. Provide Distractions
Even the most experienced car-riding canine can have an off day and be genuinely annoyed by yet another hour of driving. Bypass the constant head butting and keep him entertained by having something on hand that can calm his nerves and satisfy his palette. Ark Naturals work great for both objectives.
6. Keep it Cool
It’s important to keep the air going during those warm travel days, but surprisingly it’s just as important to keep it circulating in the snowstorms. That’s right; even though it’s negative temperatures outside, the warmth that you’re pumping through the car can cause your pup to become disastrously overheated (especially if he’s a larger, fluffier breed). Of course, the best indicator as to whether or not your dog is internally cooking is how much he’s panting. If he’s fogging up the car windows, you can bet the cartoon thermometer in his forehead is bursting. While you can de-layer, keep in mind your dog is basically wearing a down-lined sweater that he can’t take off.
is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, N.C.