Road Tripping with Your Dog

Traveling with pets can be especially challenging, they need exercise and stimulation to be content and not give you a massive headache while driving. There is nothing worse than trying to drive 6+ hours a day with an annoyed and needy dog in the back. I find the best way for me to travel with the boys is to make sure I pack as efficiently as possible. This means I stuff WHATEVER I can WHEREVER I can (literally anywhere). I’ve found things in my car after road trips that I have completely forgotten I had even brought… but doing this to have ample space for dogs is in my opinion worth the price of losing or forgetting some items LOL. My goal when packing is to have the entire back seat/trunk open for the dogs. I fold the seats down so they have ample room to relax. I usually stuff their favorite beds all around too so it gives them a feel of personal space.

Tip 1: Car Gear

I think that my roof rack and tailgate carrier are some of the best investments I have made when it comes to travel gear. They aren’t nice or expensive but they get the job done and allow me to carry as much as possible outside of the car.

 My newest investment for gear is a rooftop tent for my car. If you’re embarking on a camping road trip a rooftop tent will help eliminate a large portion of the gear you will need to pack. In addition, they are extremely comfortable and very easy to set up! Some of the tents on the market will pop up in only seconds. Make sure your car is compatible with a rooftop tent before purchasing!! They are definitely very heavy and will hurt your gas mileage.

Tip 2: Fun Mind Stimulation 

Make sure to pack things that will keep the dogs entertained while driving if they aren’t sleeping. For me, this usually means I pack some Benebones and good chews for the dogs. The dogs absolutely love these and will keep at it for hours on end. This will help stimulate them mentally and hopefully get them tired again if you aren’t stopping for a while. 

Tip 3: Sneeef

When I stop at a gas station/to let the dogs out I always let them sniff around a bit. It is even better if you can let them hang out on a patio with you while stopping for food. They will love getting exposure to all the people walking by and all the yummy smells around. Much like the chews this gives them some more mental stimulation for days I can’t take them on long walks or hikes. 

Dog sits in mountain valley with a bag of teats in vest

Tip 4: Food and Treats

I try to pack the boys just enough food so that I can make it to my next stop without having to buy any. I also try not to pack too much as it can take up a lot of space. Treats can also take up a lot of space so I pack these into plastic baggies and try to get as much air out of those bags as possible. Once the food and treats are packed in bags they are all placed into a dog-dedicated duffel bag so it’s nice and organized.   

Tip 5: Water

Have water and a dog bowl easily accessible to give your dog at any time. The car can get hot and the dogs will need water! I keep a dedicated water bottle for the dogs and a collapsible bowl near the front at all times. There is nothing worse than a panting dog in the car! 

Tip 6: Long Lines

I always carry long lines with me so I can tie the dogs up to the back of the car. This gives them some space to stretch out their legs without me having to hold their leashes. It allows me to move things around in the car or do any other activities I may need to while giving the dogs some freedom. My favorite long lines are from Sloppy Chops Co. They are very durable, versatile, and easy to clean.  

An image of a 4 Runner parked at an outlook point of a mountain range

Tip 7: Avoid Traveling in Hot Weather (if possible)

The winter is my favorite time to travel with the dogs in a car because they are OK to be left in it for a bit. When it is really cold I will even leave blankets in the back for the dogs to snuggle up in if needed. However, in the summer the car will get way too hot for them way too fast! Never leave the dogs alone in the car over the summer. If you are traveling in the summer be sure to check on the weather often and make plans that include swimming and or shady spots! For me, hotels are a must for the summer once it gets to over a certain temperature at night. I love to sleep in the cold and the dogs and I cannot sleep well in the heat. 

With all of these tips you should know the most important part is to enjoy the quality time these trips provide you with your pup(s). You will cherish these memories for a lifetime!! I will truly never forget some of the road trips I have taken my dogs on, from New Jersey to Wyoming and back. We have spent countless hours on the road together and I wouldn’t change anything about those times together.