Since we brought Levi home, he loves coming with us on road trips. It took him a few practice trips to get adjusted, the first car ride we ever took with Levi he barked the entire ride, jumped all over the car, and kept trying to pull the doors open! Now, after a year, he’s an expert. He loves to look out the window, explore new places, and meet new people wherever we go.
Every trip we take with Levi, we’re always learning how to pack better with him, drive safer, and make the trips easier on everyone, two and four-legged. I’m sharing 7 tips and essentials for road trips with your dog.
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1. Keep Updated Tags & Chip
Levi doesn’t always have his collar on at home, but when we travel, he’s always wearing a quick-release collar with a few tags. We have one with our name and phone numbers on it, another with his chip and vet’s contact, and of course his rabies tag. His microchip also gets checked every year, with our names, phone numbers, and address. Having updated tags and chip ensures your dog will find his way back if he gets away.
2. Provide a Safe, Comfortable Space in the Car
When you travel, always provide a large enough comfortable space for your pet to stand up, turn around, and lay down. I’d prefer to have Levi buckled into the car with a seatbelt, but he doesn’t really settle down easily. After trying a few different options, we settled on this trunk barrier, so Levi has the whole open trunk with a bed (similar bed). Other options for your dog include a crate, booster seat, or seatbelt.
3. Frequent Breaks for Bathroom and Water
Your pet may not always be able to ask for a bathroom break, so it’s important to remember to frequently stop for potty, water, a quick walk, and a small snack. If you have a young puppy or senior dog, you may need to stop more frequently. With Levi, we always go for a nice walk before we load up, and stop roughly every two hours.
4. Pack a Few Toys
Playing with toys is the number one thing we do with Levi to help him settle in a new place. He doesn’t play too much while we drive or stop for breaks, but for some dogs it’ll help them relax while you drive. Bring toys that are high quality and less likely to get destroyed on the trip!
5. Bring More Bags than You Think You Need
Always bring spare poop bags! We keep them stashed in the bag, travel bags, and a few nooks and crannies in the car. You never know when or where you’re going to need one, it’s always good to have a spare roll somewhere handy.
6. Pack a Spare Leash
Keeping on your dog on the leash is so important when you travel, for the safety of your dog, your fellow travelers, and the environments around you, especially the wildlife! We always carry a spare leash, sometimes two, in case ours breaks or goes missing or we happen upon a loose dog (which has happened before!). One of our favorite backups is this slip leash, it’s cheap, easy to pack, and works for any dog size in a pinch.
7. Practice Your Dog’s Recall
Despite the extra leash, accidents happen. On our last trip to the Poconos, Levi zipped out the door while we packed up the car, and refused to come inside. His recall isn’t as strong as it should be, and this was a really good reminder to us that continuing to work on that command is incredibly important. Check out more on recall here or Will Atherton’s video on how to train a whistle recall.