10 Must Read Tips Before Road Tripping with Pups

My boyfriend and I recently got back home from two weeks on the road with our two dogs. Yeah, you could say that it was a bit hectic.


I’m going to leave that because that is what I just typed as Chloe vaulted onto my lap with no warning and it seemed fitting.

Anyhow, Ryan and I decided to take a road trip to Phoenix for a conference I was attending and to visit his sister. We made it an epic road trip to see the coast since we were already putting in some dedication to make it to Phoenix. And then we had the bright idea to bring the puppies with us. What else were we going to do? Go without them for two whole weeks? No way, Jose (yes, apparently that’s how it’s spelled… weird right?).

So on the night before/day of our trip, we packed the car with the usual necessities and piled a dog bed (they share one), toys, bones, and one very squeaky ball on top of our bags and hit the road.

After two hours, we were cruising and then whines drifted up from the backseat. Ooops, time to take the dogs out.

This wasn’t exactly my first rodeo, as I took one of these pooches on a two-month cross-country road trip two years ago. Actually, I adopted little Rocky Road Trip while on the road (long story). But this was definitely different. First off, TWO puppies? That’s twice as much. Second, Chloe is a bit more neurotic than Rocky (putting that gently), and HAS to play at least two good hours a day. Third, there was also a hunk traveling along (my sweet as pudding boyfriend, Ryan). AND we were planning to cut costs by sleeping in the car (hey, don’t judge us… we do what it takes to get an adventure or two in). So this was a different kind of trip altogether.

And we learned A LOT.

So, here are some tips you can use to save you some agony while taking your own pooch for an epic adventure.

*Disclaimer, I am not an expert on dog travel or a medical professional. These are just some things I’ve learned from my own experience of road tripping with pups.

1. Get them used to the car before the trip. It’s always a good idea to give Fido a ride or two before casting off on an epic never-ending road trip. It will save you both some anxiety while doing the real thing if they can get some practice rides in beforehand.

2. Make sure they’re up to date on vaccines. You don’t know what you’ll be in contact with on the road. Hopefully nothing harmful, but Rocky picked up an unwanted tick for a souvenir on this last adventure. You just never know, so it’s better to be safe than sorry!

3. Confirm that their tags and chip are accurate. The last thing you expect on a road trip is to loose track of your precious pup, but it can happen. Make sure that your phone number and information is accurate on their tags and chip so that anyone that picks them up can contact you.

4. Remember to Stop. Pull over frequently for potty and walk breaks (and please pick it up if hoomans are going to walk there). There were times when we would fill up or go to the bathroom and we would have internal debates about whether it was worth the effort of putting on their harnesses and finding grass around us… The answer is always yes. At the very least, they’re bored and cramped. Take them for a little walk at every opportunity.

5. Keep that H2O nearby. Sometimes it’s easy for us to forget to stay hydrated on the road, but it’s especially important to keep water accessible to your pup so that they don’t get dehydrated. We found that a wide mouth cup in our cup holder was perfect for both pups to drink out of at any point and didn’t spill often (except with clumsy Chloe would dip a toe into it).

6. Plan your trip around your pup. Yeah, I know that sounds annoying, or maybe obvious to some, but even Ryan and I messed up on this a couple times. First, we planned on walking National Park trails with them (guess what, they’re not allowed), and second, we attempted to explore Vegas with them. It’s not exactly the most dog-friendly city in the US and the erratic drivers are enough to give any dog parent a heart attack.

7. Pack a paw towel. One thing we had the foresight to bring was a towel for their mud paws and it was literally a seat saver. We figured it would rain at least one day of our trip, and we were right. Mud paws can ruin a car seat, an outfit, and someone’s whole day.

8. Pack their meds. If Fido is known to have allergies, pack some Benedryl. If their heartworm pill is going to be due during the trip, just don’t forget to pack it along and set an alarm to go off during your trip (you might think you’ll remember, but things get hectic on the road).

9. Prevent the puke. It’s not a good idea to feed your dog right before you get on the road (or during your drive) because it can make them nauseous. We noticed that our dogs’ appetites decreased while on the road trip as well, and figured it was from sleeping so much and being in an unfamiliar environment.

10. Find some dog-friendly places on the road. There is something so fun about going into a dog-friendly restaurant, bar, or store, and your dog loves it too! It’s a great way to get out of the car and socialize. Plus everyone is sure to comment about how adorable your pooch is and who doesn’t love that? My favorite dog-friendly websites to use are: Dog FriendlyBring Fido, and Go Pet Friendly. But a quick google search will bring up many other sites. Just make sure you call ahead to confirm that you can bring your dog. Another great resource is meetup.com. I have used this site a couple of times to find dog-friendly hikers and groups in different areas. And when in doubt, use Facebook and google to find some fun places near you.

Optional: Crate your dog during travel. Okay, this is where I’m a bit hypocritical because all the online articles say to crate your pup, but I honestly love having Rocky and Chloe on my lap, or in the backseat during these long trips. You can totally crate your puppy, it’s not cruel or mean and it is likely more safe for them if an accident does occur. I just choose not to. Here is a great article about how to get your dog ready for the crate in the car.

Obvious bonus tips:

DON’T LEAVE YOUR UNATTENDED DOG IN A POORLY VENTILATED CAR. Duh. Don’t do this. Ever. If you have to leave them in the car (for a minute), leave the a/c (or heat) blasting, their favorite tunes playing, and a note in your dash that tells others that they are safe.

Call the hotel ahead to make sure that they are dog-friendly. Also, ask them if there are an extra charge or breed restrictions. The last thing you want is to get there and be turned away, or to sneak your dog into a place and get kicked out at 3 am when they start having a barking fit (also, try to prevent them from having a barking fit at 3 am… that’s annoying for everyone). But remember, hotels can be difficult for a lot of dogs because of the constant noise and movement. They may become protective and vocal.

Do NOT put your dog in the back of your truck. Good lord, I should not need to say this but seriously we saw this happen on our trip. This is SO incredible dangerous for your dog.

Road tripping with puppies can be a lot of fun and a thousand times less lonely, but if you do it wrong, it can be frustrating and downright dangerous for your furry best friend. BUT just following some simple tips can turn your epic journey from chaos to calm.

What are some of your favorite doggie accommodations? Have you taken a road trip with your pup? Leave me a comment below!

(pssst, dog people are my favorite humans so I’d love to chat)

Journey on, my friends!


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