How Do You Prepare For A Road Trip With Your Pet?

10/13/15 at 09:55 AM | Published Under Travel with Dogs by Amy Burkert

Fall is here, and this is the best time of the year to travel with your pets – the crowds have died down, the temperatures are comfortable, and, if you time it right, the foliage is spectacular! Whether your furry companion is a first-time road tripper or a seasoned traveler, following some simple steps will ensure that everyone enjoys the ride.


Make Time for Training


No matter where you choose to go, your trip will go more smoothly if your dog has some basic obedience skills. Spend a few weeks before your scheduled departure brushing up on any training that has gotten a little rusty.


The basics – “sit,” “down,” “stay,” and “leave it” – will allow you to avoid most potholes. Your dog should be able to lie quietly under your table while you enjoy a drink or eat a meal at a pet friendly restaurant. And remember, if you’re heading to a city, you may need to re-acclimate your pup to crowds and other dogs slowly.


Planning Makes Perfect


When you begin researching pet friendly activities at your destination it’s very tempting to over-estimate how much you can accomplish - but traveling with pets means everything takes a little longer. Rather than packing the schedule so you’re dashing around, allow time to slow down and sniff the roses.


Before your trip, schedule a visit to the veterinarian to discuss your travel plans and determine if there are any health concerns. In a different environment, your pet could be exposed to fleas, ticks, allergens, and illnesses that aren’t comment where you live. Also, be sure that your pet is current on his vaccinations, and that you have any documents that might be required, such as proof of rabies vaccination.


Packing For Your Pet


You’ll want to take the things your pet will need to be comfortable while he’s away from home – and pets require a surprising amount of gear! Here’ a list of things we to consider for your pet’s suitcase:


  • Portable food and water bowls
  • Food and treats
  • All of your pet’s medications, vitamins, supplements, etc.
  • Your pet’s current vaccination records
  • A bed or blanket and a couple of toys
  • Plastic bags to pick up after your dog them along the way
  • A disposable litter box and litter for your cat
  • A roll of paper towels for muddy paws and other messes
  • An old towel, in case of rain or a splash in the lake
  • A first aid kit
  • An extra leash
  • Your vet’s telephone number, and the telephone number for the animal poison control center – just as a precaution.
  • A photo of your pet – should you get separated and need to make posters quickly.


Travel Safely


Whether you’re using a carrier, <link to Sherpa carriers crate, or automobile safety harness, it’s imperative to make sure your precious cargo is buckled up for the ride! If this will be your pet’s first trip in the car, use plenty of treats while he gets used to his new safety equipment prior to your trip.


Once your pet is comfortable with his new gear at home, take a few short car trips. Start out slowly so that your pet doesn’t become frightened by the experience, and remember to deactivate the airbag for any seat your pet is occupying in your vehicle. Reward calm behavior with treats so your pet learns that being in the car is fun, and build up the length of your trips until your pet is happy to jump in the car and ride anywhere with you.


That’s all there is to it! Just keep in mind that, despite all your preparations, things sometimes go sideways when you’re traveling. Be willing to rearrange your schedule or leave some activities for another time, and you’ll maneuver the speed bumps with ease and ensure a great trip for you and your pet!



September’s Featured Destination from Take Paws


Each month we tip you off to a place we’ve visited and that we think you’d enjoy sniffing around. And what could be better this time of year than a city named after a tree … Aspen, Colorado!


You can bet the city of Aspen won’t disappoint when it comes to fall foliage. Set against the evergreens and rugged mountain peaks, the aspen forest turns bright yellow and orange as the temperatures get crisp. Even better, there is no shortage of activities in pet friendly Aspen. Have a romp at the Smuggler Mountain Road Off-leash Area before a decadent lunch at the Terrace Bar at The Little Nell, where your pup will have his own pet menu, and don’t miss the photo op at the Continental Divide at Independence Pass – just 19 miles southeast of Aspen on CO-82.



About the Author

Amy Burkert

 Amy Burkert runs the award-winning pet travel website,, which makes it easy to plan a trip with your entire family. Her blog, Take Paws, is an encyclopedia of pet travel tips, pet friendly destination advice, and stories of the adventures she and her husband share as they travel full-time in their motorhome with their dogs, Ty and Buster.


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