How to survive a road trip with your dog?

September 18, 2019

How to survive a road trip with your dog?

One of my favorite things in the world is going on a road trip with my dog. The wind in my hair, music blaring through the speakers, and my dog looking back at me in the rear view mirror – I can’t ask for anything more. I admit that I have not always been comfortable taking my dogs with me on these trips. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from each trip about how to make the trip with my dog more comfortable for both of us.

So now, in honor of you readers and your furry best friends, I have compiled some tips for safe and comfortable travel with your dog. Ready?

1. Chose the best pet seat covers

The name of the first dog I raised as an adult was Jim. He was a Labrador (mixed with Kana Corso) and like all Labs, was very fond of water! We loved to go to the beach together. In the winters, I would walk on the sand and Jim would run beside me and into the water. In the summer, we would go into the water together. You can imagine his joy running like this on the beach, rolling on the sand, swimming in the water. You can also imagine how dirty he would be back in the car!

I would always take an old blanket with me, but by the time we got home, it was already soaked in water that soaked the seats. I searched the web for a solution and found that there are great pet seat covers. Here are some things to consider when choosing seat covers:

-Non-slip backing: You need to make sure that the cover has a non-slip backing with seat cushion anchors to prevents shifting, even as your dog moves around.

-Easy installation: you can find seat covers that you can install in seconds by simply hanging the adjustable headrest straps over the headrest and pushing the seat anchors into the backrest and seat gap.

-Waterproof: make sure that the backside features a heavy-duty waterproof seating pad to ensure moisture never penetrates. This will make sure your seats stay protected.

-Easy to clean: make sure that cleaning is simple. Buy seat covers that are 100% machine washable and that you can wipe with a damp cloth and vacuum.

pet car seat covers

 2. Feeding habits

Gaia was the first dog I trained as a service dog. She was a stunning Australian Shepherd with blue eyes. As part of my work with her, we spent many hours together in the car.

road trip with your dog blog service dog  

From Gaia, I learned about the importance of paying attention to food and travel. If we went to the car after eating, she would vomit right away. It wasn’t long before I came up with the following rules:

-Food is not allowed for three hours before boarding the vehicle.

-Always take two bowls that will be in the car - one for food and one for water. There are excellent food bowls that fold and are designed for travel.

-It’s important to have a window slightly open for fresh air and to make refreshment stops on long trips.  Having a quality seat cover can help prevent any motion-sick dogs from making a mess of your car, in case they have a more sensitive stomach.

3. Remember to put an updated name tag

Diego was a wonderfully friendly Maltese. There was no one who didn't want to pet or hold him, and he never said no to them. One day, Diego and I went to visit a friend. We sat together in the yard, enjoying a pleasant lunch. Suddenly, I noticed that Diego wasn't next to me. The yard was closed but it turned out that Diego could pass under the gate slot. I don't have to tell you how scared I was! We immediately went out and started looking for him, called his name, and whistled to try and get him to come back - but we couldn't find him anywhere!


After an hour of searching, we found him, sitting leisurely on the neighbor's porch. The neighbor was waiting with him, sure that someone would come looking for him. Since then, there's no way I'm going out with a dog from home without a tag that clearly has their name and phone number.

4. Spending energy and types of play

Every dog loves to play, but there are those who can’t get enough of it. Bella is Jack Russell and as such, her energy level is high. If she doesn't spend enough energy, she chews… everything! She can chew the seats and the handles and even gnaws on herself.

I divide the games of dogs into three types:

  1. The dog playing with us
  2. The dog playing with other dogs
  3. The dog playing on its own.

As dog owners, we need to allow our dog these three types of play.

The game I love most is playing with a ball. Before I go with Bella to the car, I make sure to play with her a lot so that she is as tired as possible on the trip.

playing with a ball

During the journey, I allow her to meet as many dogs as possible and play with them. It's amazing how much she loves to meet and how great she is at making friends. This is a very important step in the process of socializing a dog - allowing them to talk to other dogs.

dog playing with dogs

And the last type of game - the dog playing on its own- is the chewing and biting game. Always take a special travel chewing toy with you. There are many great chew toys, so find what your dog loves most and keep it for travel.

By spending your dog’s energy and giving it a comfortable place to chew on its toy (and not make a mess!), you’re bound to have a more relaxing car ride.

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