Autumn is here in the US and it’s a great time for a road trip. The leaves are changing colors in most places and soon most trees will be bare allowing for site-seeing freedoms! All over much of the US gorgeous landscape covers the areas we drive by with lush foliage. Taking a road trip during the autumn season can be rewarding because much of the hidden gems are visible. My husband and I like to travel with our beloved pooch because she is part of our family. Now that the kids are grown, it is easier to travel and enjoy ourselves.
We have found that our dog is not exactly welcome at all places though, so we have altered our accommodations to suit her on our trips. We prefer to travel by car so we can take in the scenery on the way to every destination. After all, it’s not just the destination that is special, it is the whole trip. Here are some great tips to help you plan a trip during the autumn season with your Fido too.
Preparing for the Trip
Plan Your Route
Every state has an interstate or DOT (department of transportation) website that lists all rest stops. I highly recommend looking up the route you are going to travel by state and interstate name. Be sure to include the direction in your search. This will give you an accurate listing. Every rest stop we have visited has a pet-friendly area, but not all rest stops are really dog-friendly. You could create your own listing of these rest stops or you could use this list.
If you are staying in a hotel make sure your dog is welcome and discuss the fees associated with bringing him or her. If you made reservations via an online site or called an 800 number, you still need to call the location to verify. If during your trip you are visiting a facility such as a state or national park, call ahead or check the website to ensure your furry friend will be welcome.
Pack a bag for Fido
When you are packing for yourself, don’t forget to include your furry friend. I suggest packing a tote bag with a few things that you want to keep handy on every road trip. Some of the items listed may seem obvious, but it’s great to go through the list and mark off each item as you have packed it. This will ensure that when you are loading your vehicle with your luggage, you don’t forget your dog’s important items also!
Water specifically for your dog
2 leashes. I recommend taking a short leash (3-6 feet) and a long leash (10-20 feet) -Having both sizes will make your trip much more enjoyable. You will want to use the short leash at all times when you are making a pit stop to use the restroom or grab a bite to eat. The longer leash will be great to allow your dog to run and stretch out his or her legs after several hours on a trip.
Extra collar or harness. This may seem unnecessary but it is a dog’s nature to be curious about new smells and places. On a road trip your pooch may get wet, dirty or be otherwise uncomfortable on the trip, so being prepared is always best.
Poop bags – this is an absolute must. Do not rely on rest areas to have the waste removal bags necessary to pick up after your pet. Good pet etiquette dictates that you will always clean up after your dog when they eliminate. It does not matter if no one else is cleaning up after their pet, you should do the right thing!
Food – Bring enough food to last 3 days longer than you expect. Dogs will eat more than usually out of anxiety or nervousness. The opposite is also true. Your pet may not eat as much as usual. It is better to be prepared.
Comforta (Or other calming treats) – It’s a good idea to bring along a calming treat in case you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation with your nervous dog. Follow the instructions on the package and do not overdose your dog because you don’t think it is working.
ID Tag (We don’t want Fido to get lost.)
Vaccination Records – Be sure to prominently display your dog’s vaccination tags and keep a copy of the vet’s records with you. You may not need to produce those papers, but some establishments will not allow you to bring your dog without proof.
Toys or blanket – pack something from home with all the comforting smells he or she is used to. This will be helpful on your first night away from home. Dogs are very scent sensitive.
During the Ride
Your road trip with a dog should be just an enjoyable as the destination. Be patient with your pooch if they are a little nervous at the beginning of the trip. If your dog hasn’t traveled with you before, it will take a little time for them to trust the car and maybe you during the trip. A dog’s nature is to be wary and a bit fearful of a new experience. It may the entire ride to your destination for the dog to realize that the trip didn’t hurt them. Your ride back will be much better!
If you have a seasoned pooch that is used to traveling, chances are he/she will just sit back and enjoy the ride. Be mindful of it in the backseat as you are driving just like you would kids. You are transporting your best friend, so be sure to keep that in mind before you start slamming your brakes in traffic. Some people prefer to use a pet buckle type device to keep their dog anchored in the car seat. This is good for those who wander around in the car causing a distraction.
Don’t rush it. Enjoy the ride and take in the scenery. Stop often to rest, relieve your bladder (and Fido’s) and stretch your legs. When you encounter people on stops that you make, don’t allow your dog to go up to strangers. Not all people are dog people. We have encountered moments during travel where we thought our dog really liked someone or another animal only to find that the meeting should never have occurred. Just because you see a tail wagging, it doesn’t mean the encounter will be a friendly one. Good dog etiquette dictates that you keep your dog close to you at all times when near other people or pets. Near you refers to by your side, not near other people or animals.
At Your Destination
When you reach your destination, scout out the area before your pet. Notice any areas you will need to avoid with your dog that may trigger a negative response. Also be aware of all the places Fido is not welcome. For example, at the hotel, your dog may be welcome in the room, but not in the pool area or breakfast nook of the lobby. Follow the “Pet” rules set for by the establishment and you should have an enjoyable stay. If you are visiting a place, definitely scope out the area before bringing your pooch out of the car.
A road trip with your dog should be both enjoyable and comforting. You should both enjoy the new experience. Take care of your pooch and he or she will always take care of you!
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