No matter the time of year, family road trips are always in style. So perhaps you’ve opted to bring along your Doodle this time around. If so, you’re in the right place.
Before I got pregnant in 2018, my husband, Chloe, and I did our fair share of road tripping…our very fair share. The three of us together have driven across the U.S. not once, not twice, but FOUR TIMES (not including an RV trip up to Canada and back)! By now, you’d think we have traveling by car down. And you’d be right! As seasoned road trippers who would never leave the dog behind, we thought we’d share with you all our tips for traveling by car with your Dood.
1. Don’t Feed the Dog
First thing’s first – don’t feed your dog just before you hit the road to avoid stomach twisting (fatal). Wait at least one hour after the dog eats a full meal before getting in the car. This can also help to prevent car sickness.
2. Relax, Dood
Chances are you already know how your pup behaves in the car. If your dog gets anxious on the road, try a ThunderShirt or calming dog treats. The latter are what help Chloe relax the most, at least.
Funny story actually – I accidentally gave Chloe a double dose of a hemp treat once and when we pulled over for a potty break, she was so relaxed by it that it seemed like she forgot how to walk!
Also, Chloe has always felt safest laying down right behind the driver’s seat for some reason, so now whenever we go anywhere in the car we put her little travel bed on the floor back there so she can at least be comfortable. Admittedly, it’s probably not the safest place for her to be, but I can almost guarantee that she would willingly choke herself if she were tied in to a dog seat belt.
3. Potty Time
Stop for potty breaks at least every 3 hours. Basically, whenever you have to go, let your dog go, too. Most public rest stops across the US have designated pet areas, and most gas stations have grassy areas around the perimeter. (However, we tend to avoid the designated pet areas because a lot of people don’t pick up after their dogs and it’s gross, not to mention it spreads disease…please don’t be one of those people.)
Also, offer your dog water each time you stop for a potty break. If your dog is like mine, all that panting from being anxious in the car can dehydrate a pup faster than usual.
What to do if your pup doesn’t go potty
In Chloe’s younger years, she would flat out refuse to go potty in unfamiliar places. Whenever we’d stop for a break, she would just sniff around and stare/bark at everyone walking by, no matter how long we were out there. There were times when she would go 24 hours without going! 🙁
This made long road trips especially worrisome for us. Eventually, we figured out that if we found a secluded area and let her chase the ball or frisbee for a bit, then she would eventually go potty. So give that a shot if your dog refuses to go to the bathroom on road trips and see if that helps.
4. Be Her Emotional Support Human
When we arrived at our hotels, Chloe was always on edge for a bit since it was a new place with new smells (we were usually put in a designated pet room). I eventually figured out that I could help her calm down by spending a quality 10 or 15 minutes just cuddling with her and having a gentle, soothing, massage-filled conversation with her.
5. Stay Somewhere Pet Friendly
This is probably the most obvious one, but just wanted to cover this topic anyway. Speaking of hotels, there are lots of them that allow pets, although we are partial to Marriott brand hotels (we get a nice discount). Their Residence Inn, Town Place Suites and SpringHill Suites hotels allow pets for a fee: $50-$100 per stay.
You can also opt for Airbnbs, just be sure to filter your choices for ones that are pet friendly.
On Leaving Your Dog in the Room While You Go Out
The hotels generally discourage leaving your pets unattended but sometimes you just have to.
When staying at a hotel, if we had to leave and couldn’t bring Chloe with us, we would set her up in the bathroom. We’d put her food and water bowls in there, lay the floor towel down, and turn on the bathroom fan. We would also turn the TV on. We did this because we knew she’d bark at every little sound from outside and cause a nuisance.
When staying at an Airbnb, we would always ask the host first if we could leave her there while we went out. The hosts always said yes, and sometimes they even offered to watch her and keep her company. Otherwise, we would just leave her in our room (if staying at a shared Airbnb).
P.S. Please try not to leave your dogs alone for more than a couple hours
6. Prepare to Skip the Activities
Many people maybe don’t realize this, but there are definitely some sacrifices you have to make when you bring your pets with you on vacation. We have had to pass up A LOT of local tours and activities…and eating at sit-down restaurants because we had Chloe with us. However, we have always been totally okay with that. We have been able to bring her with us to many public places, parks, and we are always happy getting food to-go to eat in the car or at a nearby park. The memories of having her with us is worth it.
P.S. Please never leave your dog in the car.
7. Bring a “Lovey”
Kind of like how a child might bring their favorite toy or blanket everywhere they go, Chloe also has a “lovey” stuffed animal that we bring everywhere so she has something familiar to help calm her nerves.
8. “Wanna Go Outside?”
If you can try to make pit stops anywhere outdoors (that allows pets), your Dood will definitely appreciate that. We would try and bring her along for sightseeing, and other times we would find a short hike to do to stretch our legs. I know Chloe loved being out of the car to roam free for a little bit.
By the way, most National Parks and National Monuments do allow pets inside the perimeter, but your dog will have to stay in your vehicle, in the parking lot, or campsites, or on a limited number of hiking trails.
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Who’s going somewhere fun with their Doodle soon? What road tripping tips would you add?