Exercise Before You Go
Long road trips means a prolonged period of time without activity for your dog. Depending on the breed of dog, this could be a big problem. Lack of proper exercise and stimulation can cause stress, anxiety, and destructive and disruptive behavior.
Before heading out, make sure your dog gets a longer walk than normal or for active / working breeds, maybe a long run. It’s also smart to tucker them out the day before. Consider taking them to doggy daycare for a full day, on a rigorous hike or a long day at the beach the day before you leave. This will help reduce your dog’s energy level for the trip.
Safety First – Buckle Up, Dogs Too
Some dogs sit nicely in the back seat while others race around causing all sorts of commotion. Regardless, your dog should be secured in the car either in a crate, or by using a dog seat belt or runner. This will ensure they are kept safe in the event of a car accident, and also you want prevent your dog from jumping on you or in the front passenger seat, which in itself could cause an accident. Try the Kurgo Auto Zip Line or Direct to Seat Belt Tether for a safe and secure ride.
In general, dogs require ½ to 1 ounce of water per day per pound. The larger the dog, the more water intake is required (which also means more potty breaks). Try to give your dog water every 2 hours.
Plan Your Pit Stops / Potty Breaks
For longer trips, it’s important to plan out water breaks and then subsequent potty breaks. The amount of breaks will greatly depend on the breed and age of your dog. Smaller breeds and puppies require more potty breaks than larger breeds and adults. Senior dogs may also need additional breaks.
For puppies, you can determine how many hours they can hold their bladder by their age, 4 month equals 4 hours, 5 months equals 5 hours and so on until they reach 8 hours, which is the maximum amount of time an adult dog should wait to urinate.
On average dogs go #2 about 2-3 times a day; however this can be as much as 5 to 6 times a day depending on their diet. Dog foods with higher water content, like dehydrated or wet foods, may result in more frequent bowl movements. Dry kibble with low moisture levels result in few bowl movements.
We suggest feeding and pottying your dog well before the road trip, and then pottying every 4-6 hours depending on the breed and age of the dog and the length of the road trip.
Some dogs will sleep in the car while others need more activities to keep busy. Having lots of activities will keep your dog distracted, so they don’t distract you or get anxious on the trip. You’ll need to pack a few of their favorite chew treats like raw hides or bully sticks, a food puzzle like a peanut butter Kong or the Orbee Tuff Mazee by Planet Dog and their favorite chew toy from home, like the Nylabone or the Hurley by West Paw Design.
Take Your Food To-Go
For longer road breaks, it’s very likely that you will eventually stop to eat, and that may mean having to leave your dog in the car. Remember to leave water and the windows generously open to prevent overheating. If it is warm outside (temperature greater than 80 degrees), consider getting your food to-go. Cars act like greenhouses and trap heat. Even with cracked windows, internal car temperatures can rise over 20 degrees above the outside temperature. That means an external temperature of 80 degrees will result in an internal temperature of 100 degrees, which is dangerous for your dog.
First published by San Diego Pets Magazine on July 3, 2013. San Diego Pets Magazine offers captivating stories and resources that promote the amazing San Diego Pet lifestyle. Twitter: @SanDiegoPets
Also seen in:
Examiner.com, 6 Travel Pet Tips From Fitdog Sports Club Examiner.com launched in April 2008, to provide freelancers across the United States with a platform to share their knowledge and expertise through informative and entertaining content. Twitter: @rileyrants