Wondering how to travel with a dog by car? Taking a road trip with your dog takes a lot of patience and preparation. But there’s nothing better than being able to hit the open road with your best friend.
I started traveling with my German Shepherd when he was just a puppy. Our first road trip was to Cape Elizabeth, ME when he was six months old, and I’m not going to lie, it was ruff (pun intended). I was so anxious the entire time. What if he made too much noise in the hotel room? How about if he had an accident? What if there was an emergency?
I learned A LOT from that first experience and many more since, and now I’m here to share the answers to these questions and more with my fellow travel-hungry dog owners. I look back now and am so glad I put in the time and effort then so that I can enjoy his company when I travel now. Get your paws on my top tips for taking a road trip with your dog, from what you need to know before you go to how to manage the long car ride with your dog.
Check with the hotel first
Always call the place where you’re staying to make sure you are clear on the rules ahead of time. Are there breed or weight restrictions or additional pet fees that may not have been clear on their website? Is there a dedicated dog run for your pup to do his business nearby, or are there areas of the hotel that are off limits? Oftentimes they are happy to provide suggestions for dog-friendly things to do in the area. And some even provide services like dog walking or amenities like a dog bed or water bowl, so that you can leave those at home.
Favorite Dog Friendly Hotels in New England
Get your paws on some of the most pooch-pampering places to stay across New England.
Get the number of the local vet
Program into your phone the contact info for the nearest 24-hour veterinary emergency hospital, as well as that of your regular vet. And make sure your pup is up to date on vaccinations and medications before you leave home.
Consider microchipping your dog
The last thing you want is to have your dog get away from you, especially when you’re in an unfamiliar place. For peace of mind, ensure your pet is microchipped before you travel.
Identify a few pet friendly restaurants
Dining with your dog limits your options, as many states have restrictions on allowing animals in a place that serves food. But if you do your research ahead of time, you can find destinations that offer dog-friendly dining, often on outside patios. Just be sure to have a back up plan, like cooking in your rental or ordering takeout, in case weather isn’t suitable for outdoor dining.
Dog Friendly Breweries across New England
Breweries are some of my favorite spots to visit with my dog Roscoe, especially when we’re on a New England road trip together.
Practice makes pur-fect
It’s important to get your pup used to being in the car, especially when their young. Work your way up with shorter car rides and day trips at first. And if you know you’re going to have to leave your dog behind in the hotel for brief periods while you go out, make sure he is comfortable being left alone in an unfamiliar room beforehand.
Stick to your normal routine
This can be especially hard – after all, you’re on vacation! But it’s really important for dogs to maintain their regular schedule. Do you normally go for a walk first thing in the morning? Make sure to keep that up. Does your dog normally sleep in a crate? Don’t let the rules slide and allow him to snooze on the hotel bed. And try to keep your feeding times as close to normal schedule as possible.
Enforce the rules
If your pup is like mine, he’ll try to test the boundaries in unfamiliar territories. Your training is more important now than ever. Be clear and concise to let your dog know that the same rules apply here as at home.
Make frequent stops
Pull over at rest areas to allow your pup to stretch his legs. We always bring a tug toy with us on long road trips and spend at least 5 minutes in the parking lot getting out some energy. We’ve found it’s not only healthy for our pup, but also better for us to break up the journey!
Prevent car sickness
Does your pup get car sick? Give your dog a small meal before traveling to help mitigate symptoms. Make frequent stops for fresh air, ideally 15-20 minutes for every 2-3 hours of driving. And if you can do so safely, try positioning your dog in the front of the car.
Pack the essentials
Don’t leave home without your pup’s necessities. Packing your pet’s food and water, treats, medicine, toys, feeding bowls and other supplies will help keep you prepared and your dog comfortable. Before you hit the open road, check out my ultimate packing list for a road trip with your dog.
Dog Friendly Vacations in New England
Looking for ideas of where to travel with your dog? Check out some of the most dog friendly vacations in New England!
Do you have any other tips for traveling with a dog? Leave a comment below!