For most people, going on a long holiday without their dog is unthinkable. Even if these fur parents are travelling by road, they will bring their pups with them regardless of where they are headed and how long the trip and their stay at their destination will be.
However, taking your canine friend on a long road trip can pose more problems than you may expect, especially if it is your first time doing so. There are several challenges you have to overcome before, during, and after the long drive.
You and your pet may also encounter a few issues once you reach your destination.
If you don’t want to leave your dog behind, there are some tips and tricks you can try to have a stress-free and fun road trip with your dog. Here are seven of them:
The safest place for canines to ride is in a crate or kennel. If you have space in your car, check if your current crate can fit in the backseat and if it can withstand a long road trip. If it already looks worn and small for your pup, then it is time to get a new dog crate in Dubai.
If you are buying a new crate, make sure it is well-ventilated. Choose one that is made of wire mesh or hard plastic. There are also soft-sided types you can consider as well, which would be more comfortable for your pet.
Also, make sure the crate is large enough for your pet to sit, stand, lie down, and turn around in.
If there is a collapsible crate, consider getting this type. It will allow you to save space since it won’t take up room in your car when your pet is not using it.
Like humans, dogs need to have potty breaks and stretch their legs when they are going on a long road trip. As such, you have to consider this when planning your route and itinerary.
Look for parks where you can stop and let your pup do his business and run or walk around for several minutes. Try to find one where there are nearby restaurants, cafes, or convenience stores so that you can have a meal or snack or take them to go.
If there are places of interest along your route that you want to visit, find out if you can bring your pet as you explore the area. After all, you don’t want to leave your pup inside the car for an indefinite amount of time as you go sightseeing.
Also, it is worth noting that many rest stops now have dog areas for their potty break and where they can stretch their legs and play. It is, therefore, worthwhile knowing beforehand where these places are on your route if there are any.
Creating a list of things to bring for your pet is also crucial in enjoying a long road trip with your canine companion.
Food should be on top of your dog’s packing list. If you don’t have enough in stock to bring for your travels, order your pup’s favourite pet food online as soon as possible.
Make sure you bring enough bottled water to keep your pup hydrated while on the road.
Pack your dog’s food bowl, leash, medication, grooming supplies, plastic bags, a waste scoop, and travel papers as well, especially if you are travelling to another city or state.
Don’t forget to bring your pup’s favourite toy, ball, and pillow to give him a sense of familiarity.
Lastly, if you plan on letting your dog out of the crate during the drive, make sure you get a pet seat belt or harness restraint to keep him safe.
If you have moved recently, make sure your pup’s collar tag has your current home address and contact number.
In case you are buying a new collar, opt for a flat one since this is more comfortable for your pet to wear.
Additionally, consider getting a temporary travel tag for your pet. This should include your mobile number, destination or hotel phone number, and other important information.
If your pup does not have a microchip yet, consider having him tagged before your trip as well.
Since the upcoming road trip would be the first for your pup, help alleviate his anxiety by taking him on some practice road trips.
Start by taking your pet on a few short drives first. Gradually lengthen the time he spends in the vehicle.
While on these trips, try some behavioural training techniques to ensure your pet behaves properly during your journey. For instance, give your pup a treat when he enters or leaves your vehicle when you call him without the need to be carried.
Don’t forget to couple your edible rewards with words of praise and affection to reinforce your pet’s good behaviour.
Even if your dog is inside your vehicle, he can still get dirty. Worse, he can spread the mess around your car, especially if you let him out of the crate.
To minimise the mess in your vehicle, invest in seat covers. Also, bring a portable or car vacuum cleaner so that you clean up the shedding and dust and debris your pet may track inside immediately.
If you allow your pet to roll around in sand or mud, pack a short hose in your car and rinse him off at the nearest place where you can connect it. Use a towel to dry off your pup before letting him enter the car.
When going on a long drive, a good rule of thumb to follow is to give your pup a light meal three to four hours before the trip. Avoid feeding him in a moving vehicle even if you will be on the road for hours.
Avoid giving your dog heavy foods to eat during your stopovers as well.
Finally, make sure you keep your pup entertained during the road trip, too. Give him the chew toy you packed so that he can be preoccupied for several minutes throughout the journey.
During your rest stops, play fetch or engage in a game of tug-of-war with your pet using a tug toy. These activities will wear him out physically and mentally, which can help him rest longer during the drive.
With these tips, you can enjoy a smoother, less stressful first road trip with your pup. You can then expect more enjoyable journeys with your pet in the future.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.