Monday, November 30, 2015

3 ways to make a road trip easier for your dog (and for you!)

Sinead in her pajamas while on her dog vacation
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the humans and the dogs of this household took a little road trip to another state. We had family members to visit, turkey to eat and general merriment to get done. And all in all, we had a great time.

That didn't happen by accident.

In order to ensure that we all had a good trip, I needed to do a little planning. I wanted to make sure everyone was quiet in the car, calm in our temporary digs and well-behaved at every moment of the day.

And in my planning, I found that three key things did the most good for my two dogs.

1. Familiar smells

Most dogs can smell a lot better than they can see. And during a trip, there are a number of ways to surround a dog with smells of home, and reduce anxiety in the process.

Sinead spent a lot of her trip in her pajamas (which she's wearing in the top photo), which smelled a lot like the house. She also had several stuffed toys from home to play with, and when she was riding in her crate, she rested on bedding from home.

All of those scent markers reminded her that she was in a place that was at least somewhat familiar, and it's possible those reminders helped her to stay a little calmer.

2. Familiar beds

Most hotels and pet-friendly rentals provide some sort of bedding you could use for a bed. Some hotels even give out dog beds with the linen turn-down service (if you can believe it). While we humans appreciate fresh bedding, our dogs like their beds just a bit better.

Dog sleeping in her dog bed

Sinead's dog bed, and her beloved pink blanket, have been pushed and licked into just the right shape for her little body. She doesn't need to spend hours whirling and whirling around in order to get it into the right shape. She's done all that work already.

Putting her dog bed in her crate for the car trip, and then using that bed in the crate for her nighttime snoozes, helped her to get the rest she needed, so she wouldn't be tired and upset the next day.

3. Plenty of exercise

I am a long-time believer in the power of a good dog walk. And that power doesn't dissipate when I leave home. When Liam and Sinead walk, they're burning off excess energy, so they can sleep a little easier. And a walk in a new place provides a great deal of mental stimulation, too. So many smells! So many sights! After a walk, these two are ready to listen, and that makes them easier to maneuver during the trip.

Here's hoping these tips help you, too. And if I missed any you really love, shoot me a note in the comments! Love to hear what you do to help your dogs travel safely.


  1. Great post! And I love those PJ's!!
    When we visit family with our dogs I always bring their bed and it becomes their place, if they are underfoot or showing signs of being tired (Ziva gets grumpy if she's really tired) then we send them to their bed.
    It always helps too that they are surrounded by our stuff, so when we stay overnight somewhere i'll usually put my coat or something with them if I have to leave for a little while. But usually we try to keep our dogs with us on trips.

    1. I'm with you. I like to keep my pups with me when I travel. Cuts down on the things I have to worry about!

  2. We have cats, not dog, but I can really see how important it is to follow advice like this and to make a dog's journey as comfortable as your own.

  3. These are all great tips! We took our first road trip with Ruby in August and agree that all of these helped. She traveled very well and we hope to make future trips with her.

    1. I'm glad Ruby is a good traveler! Here's to more happy trips!