Covid has been devastating on many fronts, but there is something back in fashion, which we absolutely adore. ROAD TRIPS. Forget planes and far-away lands, we are back on our wheels, discovering the beauty of our own countries. Kind of like the Summer of 69. Oh yes, and Cooka and I are forever dreaming of buying an old hippie bus and hitting the road for the ultimate hippie adventure…
One day…Who knows? Never stop dreaming, right?
Road-trips with the fur-kids start from home
Before mapping out the dream route and packing your essentials, think about the needs of your companion. Are the vaccinations up to date, do you have all the important records and your pet’s passport, how about some emergency medicines and of course that little tag with your mobile number on it. (Cooka has taken this step even a little further and put a GPS on Sherlock. Just to be sure she said…)
Be sure your pup also has that mandatory ID microchip and it might be a good idea to keep a copy of that chip number in your smartphone.
A pre-trip check-up with your vet is also a good idea.
The right set of wheels
Another important pre-road trip consideration is which vehicle to take. If you’re a one-car family, of course, that’s academic. But if you have a choice, choose the SUV that has AC vents in back (your dog will worship you if you can get cooling air to the rear seats where most road trip dogs travel). Summer heat is unforgiving, especially to canines.
Although SUVs work best for road trips with dogs — lots of extra gear comes along — cars will work just fine, too, and you won’t get any complaints out of Muttley either way. The important thing is to try and keep the second row — aka, the back seat — clear of luggage and gear so that your dog can take ownership of the space and feel secure in it.
Leather seating cleans easier, but if you’re a big-dog owner, make sure you protect the rear seat from scratching nails with a pet hammock seat cover designed to keep your dog safe and protect the seat from natural pet behavior. It’ll also make cleaning up after the trip — dogs are dogs and they never learn to clean up their rooms, after all — infinitely easier.
Other essentials to prep before you go are a no-spill water dish, treats (of course), toys (of course, of course), and a few items from home that carry your scent to comfort him, like a favorite blanket or even your pup’s bed. Don’t forget to pack food (pack about 15-percent extra for travel) and food bowls. If you plan on camping or hiking, a first aid kit designed specifically for dogs is a good addition to your list.
All you have to do now is get your dog’s Instagram account set up and you’re ready to travel.
And now, to the road
When it comes right down to it, there are only two rules to traveling with a dog:
- I’m thirsty.
- I have to pee.
These sweetly ironic rules should come as no surprise. Water helps dogs function, flush toxins, regulate body temperature, and keep noses wet for optimal sniffin’. And it keeps them peeing throughout the day. When you’re on the road with a canine companion, always keep those two facts in mind as priorities. Pee stops are a good chance to get a little exercise, too, for both the dog and the driver.
Speaking of exercise, no matter where you are the journey, don’t hesitate to ask your smartphone for the location of the nearest dog park (every city and town has at least one) or if you’re doing a coastal trip, a dog beach. Both of these places are great shared communities where the natural practice is to stay at least six feet apart without seeming unfriendly. That’s true all across America, from the Union Square Dog Run in Manhattan to the Cayucos Dog Beach along California’s Highway 1. Plus, a worked out, sleeping dog travels best.
Where to stay, where to eat
Camping with dogs is a special kind of blast. These days, however, motels (and many hotels) seem to be getting more dog-friendly than ever. It’s easy to find a place where your tail-wagger can bunk with you for free or for a very small fee.
Many restaurants, too, especially now that coronavirus has forced so many dining establishments to expand their outdoor seating, are happy to accommodate with a big smile, a full menu and a fresh bowl of water for Fido.
A road trip seen through eyes of a dog keeps car travel fresh. It may not always be super simple, but it is always rewarding and guaranteed to bring you and your companions, human and non-human, closer together. Treat every meal, motel stay and pee stop as a teaching and learning moment — a chance to refine your pup’s already stellar behavior.
So relax and go have fun. If you and your dog have found a rhythm together at home, you’ll absolutely find one on the road.