5 Tips to Make Your Dog a Perfect Road Trip Companion

ArnoldIs there a greater joy than jumping into the car with your four-legged companion and taking a day or weekend trip? We don’t think so either!

If you plan on taking your puppy on family adventures, there are things you can do today to ensure those future trips will be (mostly) trouble free.

1. Watch for signs of motion sickness

Some puppies take to car rides like fish take to water. They’re relaxed, comfortable, and can’t wait for the next one. For others, the shortest trips can be a nightmare.

The part of the inner ear responsible for balance in puppies can develop at different times. When it’s not fully developed, the jostling they experience in a car can make them ill. This lead to vomiting all over your upholstery—but it doesn’t have to.

Vomiting isn’t the only sign of car sickness—other signs can include:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Yawning
  • Uneasiness
  • Despondent whining
  • Lethargy

As a puppy grows, they’ll generally grow out of motion sickness, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t associate car rides with being unhappy and sick. It can be hard to reverse that kind of association.

If your puppy shows signs of motion sickness, here are a couple of suggestions to help get them through it.

  1. Try crating them in the car. Sometimes looking out the windows contributes to a dog’s discomfort. Crate training them in the car can be a helpful way to cut down on the stimulus that makes them feel disoriented.
  2. Roll your windows down a bit. Fresh air and balanced air pressure can do a lot to make your puppy more car comfortable.

Occasionally an adult dog will still suffer from car sickness. If that’s the case, make a visit to your vet. There are a variety of prescriptions or over-the-counter medications your veterinarian can suggest to make car rides more palatable for your pet.

2. Keep an updated checklist of things you’ll need

Start a couple checklists for puppy travel items you never want to forget. These can be created in Google docs or Evernote files that you keep in your phone so you can always have them available.

One can be a list of things you’d need for a day trip, and maybe another for things you’d need if you’re planning to be gone for an extended period of time. This list should include things like:

  1. Any medication your dog needs
  2. A container of your dog’s regular food
  3. A spill-proof water dish
  4. Your dog’s favorite travel toy
  5. A leash
  6. Bags for dog waste

Whatever you’ll need should be on the list. It’s amazing how many obvious things we forget when we don’t write it down! If you realize that you should have brought something that’s not on the list, immediately stop and add it to the list. This will help ensure that you have it with you next time.

3. Train your dog to potty on command

If you’ve ever stood at a freezing rest stop at 3 in the morning begging your dog to go potty while he joyously ran around taking in all the new, exciting smells, you know why teaching your dog to eliminate on cue is important.

There are plenty of great articles online to help you get this down, but the concept is simple. You want your dog to associate going potty with a particular command. Teaching him to do so is as simple as:

  1. Choosing the phrase you want to use. It should be simple, but not one you’re going to use casually. This is a specific a potty command and you don’t want your dog confusing it for anything else.
  2. When you take them outside, use the phrase as they’re eliminating. Then praise them like they just created world peace.
  3. Eventually when they associate the command—and more specifically the praise—with the behavior they will be happy to go for you.
  4. And remember, always praise them for the behavior you want.

4. Plan things your dog will find fun

You wouldn’t want someone to plan a family trip full of things you hate doing, so don’t do that for that to your dog. If you know that your trip is going to require that your dog endures long intervals of sitting in the car alone or some other form of solitary confinement, find someone to watch him instead.

Make sure to throw in fun events your pooch will love. This can include:

  • Walks
  • Trips to parks
  • Relaxing cuddles
  • Playtime

The main thing to remember is that these outings are fun and meaningful for your canine when they include quality, active time with you. Make sure you plan for it.

5. Think through your nighttime plans

If you’re planning an overnight trip, think through the implications for your pup. Are they comfortable being away from home at night? If not, what are you planning to do to soothe them?

It can be hard to make your dog go straight from a long car trip to a campsite or hotel room, so plan for a little exercise interval. Is there a park you can take them to get some of that extra energy out? Even ten minutes of activity can make the difference between your dog being able to calm down and let you rest.

If you’re planning a hotel stop, it’s a good idea to call ahead and find out which ones are pet friendly.

Do you have some good tips for road trippin’ with your dog? We’d love to hear them! Connect with Manor Lake Australian Labradoodles on Facebook and share your dog trip experiences.




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