Roadtripping with Fido
Our pets are part of our family. When we go on vacation, we want them to come, too! Taking a road trip with your dog can be TONS of fun for you AND your pet, and some preparation will go a long way to making your travel smooth.
Remember, to always have fun with your dog on a road trip.
First: Make sure this WILL be fun for your pet. Does your pooch hate the car? Is your kitty nervous outside the house? Not all pets will enjoy coming along on a trip. As much as you want them to be with you, if they won’t enjoy themselves, they might prefer to be left at home with a pet sitter or booked into a luxury boarding facility.
For our feline friends, we often only travel with them to the vet – so they may not have much of a love for the car. Some cats can be great travellers, but many get stressed in the car, and uneasy in new places. Cats are also at a higher risk of getting lost whilst travelling – they can slip out of a kennel, or your vehicle, or a hotel room – and are more likely to dart off than your dog. Your cat will be more comfortable being left at home.
How can you know if your dog will be your ultimate road trip buddy? If your pooch is new to travel adventures, you can do some short trial runs before the main event to see if they are enjoying themselves, and to help acclimate them to travel. Before you strap Fido in for an 8-hour car ride, do a 30-minute drive to a different park or trail for a walk. Does your pooch settle in for a ride after their initial excitement? Do they seem calm and happy when you get them out of the car? Are they stressed and nervous from the ride? A few trips of varying lengths can be a good gauge of whether travel suits your best bud.
Once you are confident your pooch is ready for a road trip, you can begin planning your road trip adventure.
The first step to travel with your pet (regardless of the distance) is ensuring that you have a safe set-up in your car. This means NO LOOSE PETS in the car! Having your pet unrestrained in the car can put them at serious risk if you have an accident, or even if you need to stop abruptly. Pets can be thrown from the car, can become projectile objects in the car and hurt or kill human passengers, they can escape from a car crash. There are TOO MANY risks to leaving your pet loose. Pets loose in the car can also distract the driver and CAUSE an accident!
So what can you do??
The best set up are crash tested kennels, secured to the car to ensure they do not move in a crash. There are several brands of a kennel that have gone through safety testing. It is recommended to choose a slightly smaller kennel for the vehicle than you might choose in your house. You want your pet to still be able to stand up, turn around comfortably, and lie down. However, excess room means in an accident they will be knocked around in the kennel. Snug is safer.
If your vehicle size/set-up cannot accommodate a kennel, there are other options. There are a couple of crash tested harnesses on the market that can then be clipped into a seat belt. It is important to note that MOST harnesses are NOT crash tested. So they are at risk of failing in a crash and not keeping your pet safe.
There are also barriers that can keep your pet in a confined space, ie the hatch area. These still leave your pooch at risk of movement during a crash or sudden stop. However, they do provide a measure of safety and also contain them so they are not a distraction to the driver.
You will also want to check out our list of things to pack for a Road Trip with your dog.