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Planning a Pup Friendly Road Trip

Tips for devising an amazing summer vacay with your pup.

by JoAnna Lou
May 24, 2021
A dog with its head sticking out the window of a moving car.
Photo: Javier Pardina / Stocksy

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Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer vacations and road trips. Whether you are thinking of going on a brewery tour with your pup or heading to the beach, there are plenty of dog-friendly travel options. But there are a few things to consider before heading off on that spectacular road trip with your dog.

Prepping for car travel with your pup.

Road trips involve a decent amount of time in the car, so it’s important to think about how your dog will safely ride with you. A crate or specially designed dog seat belt (that is well fitted) will help keep your dog safe in the event of an accident while also preventing distraction while you drive. The crate or seat belt should be set up in the backseat, away from airbags which can be fatal. The cargo area of hatchbacks and SUVs isn’t ideal because of crumple zones, but you might need to put a crate there because of space restraints if you’re traveling with multiple people.

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Oh, and be sure to get your dog used to their restraint before you need to use it by easing them into longer rides. You don’t want a multi-hour road trip to be their first time in a crate or seat belt.

  • Remember to take enough breaks to let your dogs stretch their legs and potty.

  • Have snacks and water handy so your pups don’t get hungry or dehydrated. 

  • Be careful when leaving your dogs in the car when it’s warm out. Cars can heat up to a dangerous level even if it’s only 60 degrees outside.

  • Attach important information to your dog’s crate that would be invaluable in a car accident.

Finding pet-friendly accommodations.

You won’t have much difficulty finding pet-friendly accommodations because of the growing market for vacationing with dogs. Most websites can filter hotel search results by pet-friendly accommodations and let you know of any size limitations. Websites like Go Pet Friendly and Bring Fido will list only dog-friendly lodging, including campgrounds.

Online reviews are invaluable for narrowing down choices. TripAdvisor is a great choice since there are millions of users, and you can search reviews by keywords such as “dog” or “pet.”

  • When you arrive, check the floor of the hotel room carefully for medication. Dangerous pills are often dropped under the bed or behind nightstands.

  • If your dog will spend time on the bed, use a blanket to guard against fur.

  • Don’t leave your pets in the room unattended.  This is against most hotels’ pet policies.

  • Be mindful of people and dogs you encounter in the hallways and elevators. As hard as it is to believe, not everyone wants to say hi to your dog.

  • Pick up after your dog. People who don’t scoop poop are a major reason why many hotels start banning pets.

Planning the route.

When planning a road trip with your dogs, check your route for pet-friendly spots in the major cities that you’ll pass through. Go Pet Friendly’s Road Trip Planner lets you map your route and view pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, parks, and stores along the way. Many restaurants with outdoor seating allow pets, but not all, and policies can change, so be sure to call ahead to confirm.

Parks

  • Abide by park leash laws, as tempting as it is to let your dogs run around outside.

  • Don’t leave bagged poop on the side of the trail. Even biodegradable bags take a long time to degrade. It’s preferable to carry out the bag until you see a trash can or bury the poop (without the bag) off the trail.

  • Follow trail etiquette, such as yielding to passing hikers and keeping your pup close and under control.

Preparing for the Worst

  • Before you leave on your trip, make sure microchips and identification tags are updated with your current cell phone number since that will be your main point of contact.

  • Carry a photo of your dogs so that you have it handy in case one of them gets lost.

  • Look up the closest emergency hospital to the hotels you’ll be staying at along the way. This way, you’re not scrambling to find a veterinarian if something happens.

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JoAnna Lou

JoAnna Lou

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.