Road Trip with Dogs: Tips for Long Car Rides

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Planning a road trip with dogs can be a fun and exciting adventure for both you and your pup. However, it’s important to ensure that your pet is safe, comfortable, and happy throughout the journey. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips for taking dogs on long car trips. 

So, whether you’re planning a cross-country trip or a weekend getaway, keep these tips in mind to make sure your dog’s road trip is a success. Let’s get started!

Need to know what to pack when travelling with a dog? Find out the essential items here.

Preparation

When it comes to taking your dog on a road trip, preparation is key.

Here are some important things to keep in mind before hitting the road;

Ensure your dog’s safety and health

Before embarking on a long car trip, it’s crucial to ensure that your furry friend is in good health and up-to-date on all of their vaccinations. This will help to prevent the spread of diseases and keep your dog safe and healthy throughout the trip.

Additionally, make sure your dog has proper identification tags with updated contact information in case they get lost.

Download the free First Aid for Pets Australia app: 

Pets can sometimes experience health emergencies, and being prepared is crucial. First Aid for Pets Australia is an app that provides comprehensive first-aid information specifically tailored for pets.

From CPR techniques to handling common injuries and emergencies, this app equips you with the knowledge and skills to provide immediate care to your pet before seeking professional help.

The app also includes a directory of veterinary clinics and animal hospitals in Australia, making it easier to find assistance when needed.

To discover more essential apps for pets in Australia to assist with their needs, click here

Pack essential items for your dog

Just like you, your dog needs to stay hydrated and fed while on the road. Be sure to pack plenty of fresh water and food for your furry friend, and bring along any necessary feeding supplies.

It’s also a good idea to pack a first-aid kit that includes basic items like bandages, antiseptic, and tweezers.

animal medical kit

Perfect for the home, car or daily ‘walkies’ adventures, this ground-breaking Pet First Aid KIT features everything you need to keep your beloved furry friends satisfied and safe (and their humans, too)!

Consider your dog’s comfort and security

Bringing a crate or car seat for your dog is a great way to keep them safe and secure during the car ride. Not only does this prevent them from jumping around and potentially causing distractions, but it also protects them in case of an accident. 

Research the best type of crate or car seat for your dog’s size and breed and make sure it’s properly installed before hitting the road.

Combine your crate with a calming mat for the ultimate pet travel arrangement. I personally use the Snooza Calming Multimat with my puppy, Murphy, and have seen immediate results. Whether we’re on the road or relaxing at home, Murphy experiences no anxiety, making our travels smoother and more enjoyable for both of us. Read my 5-star review here.

It is important to choose the right sized crate for your dog. The correct size will help your dog to feel content and safe. If you choose a crate that is too small, your dog won’t be able to get comfortable.

If you choose a crate that is too big, your dog is more likely to go to the toilet in the crate as well as play and try to run around rather than settle down.

A size chart to follow is;

size length width height

Small 24” Crate

60cm

44cm

51cm

Medium 30” Crate

76cm

47cm

57cm

Large 36” Crate

92cm

58cm

65cm

XL 42” Crate

106cm

70cm

78cm

XXL 48” Crate

122cm

75cm

83cm

Choosing the right size crate

To ensure that you choose the appropriate size crate for your dog, we recommend using a tape measure to take accurate measurements.

If your dog is still growing and you wish to purchase a crate that it can grow into, it is essential to estimate its eventual size. This can be done by consulting with your breeder or looking at dogs of similar breeds and sizes.

Once you have obtained the measurements, compare them with the dimensions provided for the crate. Remember to leave an additional 5-10cm on each side to allow your dog to move around comfortably without hitting the sides of the crate.

It’s also important to consider the items that will be placed inside the crate, such as food and water bowls, bedding, cushions, and toys. These should be factored into your measurements to ensure that your dog has enough space to move around and get comfortable.

Stuck trying to find the perfect dog travel crate? Take a look at our post, dog travel crate, tips for choosing the perfect one.

Safety

Keeping your dog safe while on a long car trip is of the utmost importance.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind;

Secure your dog during the car ride

As previously mentioned, it’s crucial to secure your dog with a seat belt or in a crate during the car ride. Not only does this protect your dog in case of an accident, but it also helps to prevent distractions and keep you focused on the road.

Make sure to choose a seat belt or crate that’s appropriate for your dog’s size and breed, and adjust it properly before hitting the road.

buy the KONG Seat Belt Tether at Pet Circle

The KONG Seat Belt Tether is made with strong and durable material, and is designed to keep your pet secure during travel.

Take frequent breaks

Just like humans, dogs need to stretch their legs and use the bathroom during a long car trip. Plan to take frequent breaks every few hours to let your dog out for a walk and a potty break.

This will not only help to prevent accidents in the car, but it will also help to keep your dog happy and comfortable during the journey.

Some good spots to consider for breaks are;

  • rest stops: Many rest stops provide designated areas for pets, ensuring they can stretch their legs and take a break.
  • national parks: When travelling near National Parks, look for pet-friendly areas where you and your pet can take a break.
  • pet-friendly attractions: pet-friendly attractions are increasing due to the popularity with pet travel. Check ahead if there is an area such as beaches, hiking trails, and outdoor cafes, that you can visit with your pet.

Remember to always clean up after your pet and keep them on a leash in public areas.

Never leave your dog unattended in a parked car

It’s never safe to leave your dog unattended in a parked car, especially in hot weather. Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a parked car can quickly become dangerously hot and lead to heat stroke or even death.

If you need to run errands or take a break, make sure to bring your dog with you or leave them in a cool, shaded area with plenty of water.

Bring treats and fresh water

Keeping your dog hydrated and happy is key to a successful road trip. Make sure to bring plenty of fresh water and long-lasting treats to keep your furry friend satisfied and hydrated throughout the journey. You can also freeze some water in a travel bowl to keep it cool and refreshing for your dog.

A travel water bowl is a great idea as you can keep it in the car, take it on walks, and only dispense the required amount as needed. Without adequate water, dogs are more prone to becoming constipated and overheated.

By following these safety tips, you can help to ensure a safe and comfortable road trip for both you and your dog.

Comfort

Keeping your dog comfortable during a long car trip can help to reduce stress and anxiety.

Here are some tips to help make the journey as comfortable as possible;

Bring your dog’s favourite toys or blankets

Bringing along your dog’s favourite toys or blankets can help to create a sense of familiarity and comfort, and make it feel more at home during the trip.

Make sure to pack their favourite items in an easily accessible spot, so you can provide them when your dog needs some extra comfort.

Some great toys to consider are;

recommended toys for a crazy mutts
Kong Classic Red

The Kong Classic Red can be filled with peanut butter or other treats and will keep your dog occupied for hours. Click to buy now!

Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Casino, Dog Casino Nina Ottosson Puzzle Toy
Interactive puzzle toys

Nina Ottossons range of interactive games and toys have been designed to exercise both your dogs body and mind. As dogs have different levels of intelligence, Nina Ottosson toys are created to have varying levels of challenge - so youre sure to find the perfect fit! Click to buy now!

Petsafe Grip N Tug Dog Toy

The PetSafe Grip ‘n’ Tug provides you and your dog with a safe yet fun-filled tugging experience. Winner of the 2018 PATS Sandown New Product Showcase Award for Dog Accessory Products, this innovative toy features a tugging handle to help you gain better leverage. Click to buy now

Catnip Plush Mouse
Catnip toys

For cats, bringing along some catnip toys can provide stimulation and entertainment. Click to buy now!

Stop at dog parks or other pet-friendly areas

Stopping at dog parks or other pet-friendly areas along your route can be a great way to give your dog a break from the car ride and allow them to stretch their legs.

Look for parks or rest stops that offer dog-friendly amenities, such as water fountains and waste disposal stations.

By following these comfort tips, you can help to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable road trip for both you and your furry friend.

Keep your pet happy in your accommodation

When traveling with your dog, finding pet-friendly accommodations can be a top priority.

Follow these tips to help keep your furry friend happy and comfortable during your stay;

Look for pet-friendly accommodations

When booking any form of accomodation make sure to look for pet-friendly options. Many hotels and rentals allow pets, but there may be additional fees or restrictions, so be sure to read the fine print before booking.

Look for accommodations that offer pet-friendly amenities, such as dog beds, food bowls, and waste disposal stations.

Find and book pet-friendly accommodation

Pawtal recommends booking.com to find great pet-friendly accommodation near you. They have a “pets allowed” filter to easily search availability and options to suit your needs and budget.

Filter to “pets allowed” to search for the perfect accommodation for you and your pets.

Make your dog feel at home

Staying in a new environment can be stressful for dogs, so it’s important to make them feel comfortable and at home. Bring along their favourite toys, blankets, and treats, and try to maintain a routine as much as possible.

Take your dog for a walk around the new area to help them acclimate to their new surroundings.

Explore the latest reviews and prices of pet blankets by clicking here. 

Consider dog-friendly activities

Research dog-friendly activities in the area, such as hiking trails or dog-friendly beaches, to help keep your furry friend active and engaged during your stay.

Look for local dog parks or pet stores to visit, or consider booking a pet-friendly tour or activity.

By following these tips, you can help ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay for both you and your furry companion.

Subscribe to our mailing list and stay updated with pet-friendly locations, travel tips, and much more!

Receive our FREE Pet Travel Australia guide filled with tips and advice on how to plan your next pet adventure! 

Create a comfortable environment

Whether you’re on a long car trip or staying in a hotel room, creating a comfortable space for your dog is key to keeping them happy and relaxed.

Here are some tips to help you create a cozy and comfortable environment for your furry friend;

Create a comfortable space in the car

If you’re traveling by car, it’s important to create a comfortable space for your dog to rest. Consider bringing along their favourite blanket or bed to help them feel more at home. You can also invest in a car seat or crate to keep your dog safe and secure during the trip. I recommend pairing your crate with the Snooza Calming Multimat as this will help to eliminate any stress or anxiety your pet may have whilst travaling. 

Make sure to take frequent breaks to allow your dog to stretch its legs and use the bathroom.

Make the hotel room feel like home

Staying in a new environment can be stressful for dogs, so it’s important to make the hotel room feel as comfortable and familiar as possible. Bring along your dog’s favorite toys and bedding or calming mat to help them feel at home. Keep to your dog’s regular feeding and walking schedule to maintain a consistent routine.

You may also want to consider leaving the television or radio on to provide some background noise and help your dog feel more at ease. Some other ideas to create a comfortable environment for both the hotel room and car are;

item

tips for a comfortable environment

Pet’s bed

Helps them feel more secure and comfortable. Bringing items from home.

Favourite blanket

Provides a familiar scent and helps them feel more relaxed. Bringing items from home.

Temperature control

Ensures a comfortable temperature for your pet. If you’re traveling by car, make sure that the air conditioning or heating is set at a comfortable temperature.

Ventilation

Provides fresh air for your pet. Wind down a window or use a fan to circulate air.

Consider using calming aids

Helps reduce anxiety during travel. If your pet gets particularly anxious while traveling, there are various calming aids that can help, such as pheromone sprays or supplements.

We recommend DAN AND SAM Aromatherapy Calm Mist from Pet Circle. As the name suggests, this product is best used as a method of calming, soothing, and relaxing dogs. Click here to by. 

Aromatherapy Calm Mist

This product is best used as a method of calming, soothing and relaxing dogs. It is ideal for dogs who suffer from trouble sleeping, stress, anxiety, and nervousness.

By following these tips, you can help create a cozy and comfortable environment for your dog while traveling.

Maintaining a consistent routine and providing familiar items can help reduce your dog’s stress and ensure a happy and enjoyable trip.

Provide mental stimulation

While physical exercise is important for your dog’s health, mental stimulation is just as crucial for their well-being.

Boredom and lack of mental stimulation can lead to destructive behaviors and anxiety, so it’s important to provide your dog with games and activities to keep them mentally engaged during long car rides.

The importance of mental stimulation

Dogs are intelligent animals that require mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. A lack of mental stimulation can lead to boredom, stress, and destructive behaviour.

By providing your dog with mental stimulation, you can help reduce their stress levels and promote their overall well-being.

Games and activities for mental stimulation

There are many games and activities that can help keep your dog mentally stimulated during a long car ride. Consider bringing along some puzzle toys or treat-dispensing toys to keep your dog occupied. 

You can also play games like “find the treat” or “hide and seek” to keep your dog mentally engaged. Bringing along a variety of toys and switching them out periodically can also help keep your dog interested and entertained.

Some great ideas to consider for mental stimulation are;

  1. training exercises: Teaching your pet new tricks or practicing obedience training can be a fun way to keep their mind engaged while traveling.

  2. hide-and-seek games: Hide treats or toys around your accommodation or campsite and encourage your pet to search for them. This can be a great way to keep your pet entertained and mentally stimulated.

  3. puzzle toys: Puzzle toys, such as treat-dispensing toys or interactive games, can be a great way to keep your pet’s mind active while traveling. These types of toys can be especially helpful during long car rides.

By providing your dog with mental stimulation during a long car ride, you can help reduce their stress levels and promote their overall well-being.

Consider packing some puzzle toys and playing games to keep your dog mentally engaged and happy.

Dog Music, Dog Music Albums
Dog Music for anxiety, available in pet products

Consider music and audio books

Music and audio books can be a great way to help calm and soothe your dog during a long car ride.

Some dogs find the sounds of the road and unfamiliar surroundings stressful, and music or audio books can provide a sense of familiarity and comfort.

Music and audio books for dogs

There are a variety of music and audio books that are specifically designed to help calm and soothe dogs during car rides. These options typically feature soft, calming sounds or music that is specifically chosen to appeal to dogs.

Consider trying out a few different options to see what works best for your dog.

  1. choose the right genre: Certain types of music or audio may be more soothing for pets. Classical music, nature sounds, or soft instrumental music can be good choices.

  2. play it softly: Make sure to keep the volume low, to prevent overstimulation or discomfort for your pet.

  3. avoid sudden changes: Try to keep the music or audio consistent, to avoid sudden changes that could startle or upset your pet.

Purchase and download Dog Music to instantly calm your dog. Download here.

By considering music and audio books for your dog during a long car ride, you can help keep them calm and relaxed. Consider trying out different options and finding what works best for your dog.

Common Concerns

Taking your dog on a long car trip can be a fun and exciting adventure, but it’s important to be prepared for any potential issues that may arise.

Here are some common concerns to keep in mind;

concern

tip for prevention

Motion sickness and how to prevent it

Just like humans, some dogs may experience motion sickness during a car ride. To prevent this, consider feeding your dog a light meal before the trip and avoiding feeding them while the car is in motion.

You can also try giving your dog ginger or over-the-counter medication to help ease its symptoms.

Choosing the right dog breeds for a long car trip

Not all dogs are suited for long car trips, so it’s important to choose the right breed for your adventure.

Breeds with a history of car sickness or anxiety may not be the best fit, while breeds known for their love of travel and adventure may be perfect for a road trip.

Pet care during a road trip and what to expect

It’s important to remember that your pet will have specific needs while on a road trip. Make sure to pack plenty of food and water, and plan frequent stops for your dog to stretch their legs and use the bathroom.

You should also be prepared to provide first aid if necessary, and research emergency vet clinics along your route.

Understanding your dog’s needs and behaviour while on a trip

Just like people, dogs may act differently in new and unfamiliar situations. It’s important to be patient and understanding with your dog and to provide them with a sense of routine and comfort during the trip.

Pay attention to your dog’s behavior and needs, and adjust your plans accordingly to ensure that they are happy and comfortable throughout the journey.

Traveling with pets can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, but it’s important to keep their health and happiness in mind.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that you keep your pet happy while on the road or in your accommodation;

  • bring your pet’s favourite toys and provide interactive games to keep them occupied
  • take frequent breaks to allow your pet to stretch their legs and explore new environments
  • create a comfortable environment in the car or accommodation, with familiar items, proper temperature control, and ventilation
  • provide mental stimulation through training exercises, hide-and-seek games, and puzzle toys
  • consider playing calming music or audiobooks to help your pet relax

Plan your next road trip with dogs

Remember, each pet is unique, so be sure to tailor your approach to their individual needs and preferences. With a little planning and preparation, you and your furry friend can have a safe and enjoyable journey together.

Want to know which soft crates are the best for travelling with dogs?

Check out soft crates for dogs, your travel companion for your furry friend.  

How Pawtal can help you

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Recommended Products and Pet Resources

Want help planning a pet adventure or need assistance finding a pet service? Request a pet service and we will reach out to our pet community to find you suitable options that meet your pet’s needs.

Growing up in Australia alongside dogs and cats has equipped me with valuable insights into resources for pet travel. I want to help simplify your experience and recommend some of the tools I use when planning either an afternoon walk or a weekend road trip. 

Not travelling? Have fun at home with Pawtal’s pet product guides and products we love on Pet Hub. I am adding new products which I am loving as my puppy Murphy grows. Or start planning your next adventure with our pet travel guides.

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Vet Care and pet supplies

Pet Chemist: Your #1 resource for pet products including Parasite Control, Prescription Diets, and health care. Save Up to 50% Compared to Your Vet. Lowest Price Online with an Aussie Support Team. Click here to browse their products now

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Pet Grooming

Pet Cloud Grooming: I recommend Pet Cloud as they understand the importance of pet grooming, and work with only the most experienced and skilled groomers to provide top-quality grooming services to your furry friend. Use code MAKEPAWMEMORIES and get $10.00 off your 1st booking. Find out more by clicking here

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