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Road Trips with your Dog!

October 1, 2020

So you’re off to visit Grandma and Grandpa for Christmas, but you don’t want to leave your four-legged buddy at home. If your relatives are amenable to having your pet visit with you, make sure that he’s welcome back next year, too. Here’s how.

Preparation

To get ready to travel anywhere, you prepare for your trip, don’t you? Now you just need to add a few extra preparations to make sure your dog is welcome wherever you go. Here are some handy tips to help you do just that.

  1. Ask. Don’t assume that pets are or are not welcome when you travel. Check with the hotel you plan to stay in. Ask specifically what their pet policies are and if you decide to stay there, abide by those rules.
  2. Pet apps can help you find places that welcome Fido. Consider these: 
    • All Trails. This crowdsourced app has the largest collection of trail maps with a search function that helps you find dog-friendly trails.
    • Bring Fido. This is the best travel-with-your-dog app available. Every one of the places this app finds has the Bring Fido Guarantee, so you know you’re seeing the truth when it says dog-friendly, whether it is a hotel, a restaurant, a trail, or any of a host of other attractions and places that welcome Fido.
    • Pet First Aid by American Red Cross. A guide for step-by-step instructions for common pet emergencies, it also helps you locate the nearest emergency animal hospital.
  3. Pack the essentials. 
    • Food and water. Food goes without saying, but bringing the water he is used to can well prevent an upset stomach.
    • Bowls. The collapsible ones pack easily and don’t take up much space.
    • Toys. Let Fido chew on his favorite toys to alleviate both anxiety and boredom.
    • Bed. He’ll sleep best if his own bed is packed. 
    • Crate. A crate is the safest place for your dog to travel in a car. Be sure to put it on a flat surface (not a seat) where he can lie comfortably. Secure the crate so it doesn’t go flying in case of a collision or accident. Alternatively, you can purchase a dog “seat belt” that secures him on the seat and allows him to lie down safely. A warning, though. Keep an eye out to make sure he isn’t chewing on the seat belt!
  4. Pack his medical records and be sure he is microchipped and his vaccines are current.

Make him the perfect houseguest.

If you want to be welcomed back next year with Fido along, follow these suggestions to turn him into the ideal houseguest.

  1. Let Fido say thank you with a gift. Bring a host/hostess gift from your dog. Any dog-themed item such as hand towels or coffee-table books will be welcome. If your host has dogs, bring them something, too. Maybe a bag of gourmet dog biscuits!
  2. Find a neutral place to introduce Fido to your host’s dog. Meet at a dog park or around the corner where they can walk together before “invading” the other dog’s territory. Occasionally give Fido a break from resident dogs so that his alert-level can be let down.
  3. Stick as close to his schedule at home as possible, especially when it comes to feeding and potty breaks. Take the time zone into consideration. A dog who never has accidents at home may not be as trustworthy in another place, particularly if there is another dog already living there. 
  4. Even if the host has a fenced-in yard, go outside with him to make sure he “did his business” and then reward him for a job well-done. 
  5. Don’t assume you know the rules. Ask what their dog on the furniture preferences are and whether there are any off-limits spaces in the house, like the dining room or upstairs. Is there a specific place you should take him to potty or any places in the yard they’d prefer Fido didn’t visit? Your best bet of being asked back next year is by following the rules.

What if he just won’t behave?

If issues arise while you’re visiting someone’s home, be prepared to keep Fido tethered near you so he can’t sneak off and get in trouble. Increase the number of times you take him outside and utilize his crate when you can’t supervise him. Preparation, training, and socializing your dog before your road trip should make you and Fido welcome.