Blonde and black cocker spaniels riding in back of car

Your summer road trip wouldn’t be complete without your favorite family member. You know, the one that never asks you for money, a car, or a phone? That’s right! We’re talking about that lovable, huggable furry child of yours, your dog! To help make sure you both enjoy the ride, whether it’s a one tank trip or a week-long doozy, we’ve put together our top tips for traveling by car with Fido, your favorite family member.

Before you hit the road…

Check your dog’s collar, ID tag, and leash to make sure they’re all in tip-top shape. Is the leash fraying or the ID tag out-of-date? If your dog gets loose in your neighborhood, it’s not so bad. If your dog gets loose at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, it’s bad, especially if other travelers can’t contact you to return him or her.

Get your dog familiar with the car by letting him or her sit in it with you (without leaving the driveway) and then by going for short rides around town.

Pack the perfect pet travel kit! Pack food, bottled water, plastic bowls, a blanket or sheet for makeshift bedding (and to limit shedding on your backseat), disposal baggies for rest stop waste, and old washcloths or baby wipes to clean your dog’s feet in case they feel the need to splash in roadside puddles. (Hint: They will feel the need to splash in puddles, especially if they’re a puppy.)

Call ahead or research the rules and policies associated with pets at your destination. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your hotel late at night, only to find out that they don’t allow dogs. How ruff! Visit Pet Friendly Hotel Chains to see if your hotel is a fan of Fido.

While driving with your dog…

Don’t let them roam free in the vehicle. Research by BarkBuckleUp has shown that a 60-lb dog, like a typical adult Lab, becomes a projectile of 2,700-lbs at just 35 mph. A situation like that could be unsafe for you, your passengers, and your pup. Secure Fido in a carrier crate, in a special harness, in a booster seat, or in the back of an SUV with a mesh barrier.

Stop often for bathroom and exercise breaks. You may be able to handle six straight grueling hours on the road, but your pup can’t. Just like you’d stop for small children, stop early and often to allow your dog to stretch their legs (especially if they’re restrained in a harness or crate) and explore the scents of the world. After all, traveling is all about new experiences!

Keep their food intake to a minimum. Offer fresh water during every bathroom break, but hold the kibble until you reach your destination. Like people, pets can suffer from motion sickness too!

Don’t leave them alone in a hot car, even if you crack the windows. When it’s 80 degrees outside, your car will be a staggering 114 degrees in less than 30 minutes says the ASPCA.

When you reach your destination…

Do not leave your dog unattended for long periods of time. You want to do your best to respect the facility and other guests. Many dogs will bark or destroy property if left alone in a strange place.

Read up on great dog spots in the area. You never know who you’ll sniff or what kind of snacks you’ll try! There could be great dog-friendly restaurants, out-of-this-world walking trails, or pet meet-up events just miles away from your destination. Check out BringFido.com for vacation ideas specifically for pet lovers!

Make it a great experience for you, your dog, and the hotel. One bad experience with a pet could cause hotel management to change their policy about pets. Don’t ruin things for other pet owners. Do your best to keep your dog calm and leave your room in great condition.

Ready to hit the road with Fido? Let us know where you’re headed in a comment below. For more info on what to pack and how to safely secure your dog in the backseat, watch “Traveling With Your Pet!” Warning: This video features a VERY cute Golden Retriever!

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