Skip to Content

Travel tips for pets

Dogs’ needs are often overlooked during holiday road trips, so I thought I’d list a few reminders if your dog is lucky enough to come along. Dogs are usually extra naughty when visiting somewhere new, right? 🙂

1. Hide the chocolate from your dog.

When the car is stuffed with goodies, keep all the tempting presents in the trunk if your dog will be alone in the car. Wrapping paper and boxes will not stop a dog! It’s easy for me to forget what is in each gift, so when I’m wrapping presents I put all edible gifts in one spot.

2. Be respectful and appreciative.

If you are lucky to have relatives who welcome your dog, make sure you don’t push your luck. Sincerely thank them for allowing you to bring your dog. You could even bring them a gift from your dog or have your dog give their dog a gift.

Follow all your host’s rules and requests, and if you’re not sure what the rules are, ask. Make sure to always pick up after your dog, wipe her paws and keep her off the furniture. Don’t allow her to bark nonstop, to bother the other pets or guests or to run around like she owns the place.

3. Exercise your dog more than usual.

Ideally, I take Ace for an hour walk right before we leave on road trips. Then I walk him again once we reach our destination. I also make sure he gets more exercise the entire week leading up to our trip and during our trip. The less pent-up energy he has, the better.

Dogs in car4. Enforce your usual rules.

Dogs know when they can get away with whatever they want. Help your dog stay focused and under control at Grandma’s by enforcing the same rules you do at home. Have your dog sit and stay in the car until you release her. Keep her leash on in the house until she is calm. Carry treats in your pocket to help her stay focused. Don’t let her charge the door.

5. Bring rawhides and Kong toys.

Chewing helps dogs relax and get rid of extra energy. Kongs and bones are also good for redirecting the dog’s attention. If your dog has trouble relaxing in the car or if your dog cries when kenneled, bring along some extra Kongs for when you need her to be quiet or still. To get the best use out of a Kong, fill it with peanut butter and freeze it for a half-hour.

6. Prevent a sick dog.

If you forget or run out of your dog’s food, who knows if the convenience store in Grandpa’s town is going to carry Nature’s Variety grain-free duck meal and turkey meal. I doubt it. Dog’s get upset stomachs very easily if they suddenly switch foods. For the same reason, be careful not to give your dog too many holiday treats and goodies. The last thing you want is a sick dog.

Also, keep a small water dish in the car so you remember to give your dog water when you stop for lunch or gas.

7. Bring a training collar and long leash or tie-out.

It’s easy to forget the Gentle Leader or prong collar when you’re heading out the door. Your dog will likely be more excited at a new place, so you’ll want to have her usual training collar along. Also remember any tools that allow her to run off leash or nearly off leash such as a long lead, a tie-out, an e-collar or her favorite toy.

8. Consider a collapsible wire kennel.

These are great for traveling because they fold up easily. I bring Ace’s wire kennel everywhere because it fits easily in my trunk. I can set it up again in about 30 seconds. I never know when I’ll have to leave my dog alone for a few hours, and it’s rude to leave him loose in someone’s house.

9. Hire a pet sitter or board your dog.

Sometimes it really is less stressful for everyone involved if you leave your dog home, especially if the host is not a dog person. There are plenty of quality boarding kennels and pet sitters out there, but make sure to book appointments far enough ahead. Do your research and ask questions before boarding your dog.

10. Consider staying at a pet friendly hotel.

Most hotels in Fargo take dogs at least in certain rooms. This is the case in most towns. Just make sure to book in advance.

What tips do you have for traveling with a dog?

Heidi P

Tuesday 22nd of November 2011

For long trips on the highway, I heartily recommend a doggie safety belt. I finally bought one and with a little alteration, it gives us real peace of mind. I had to fasten a strap across the headrests in the backseat and attach it to that so that if, God forbid, there was an accident, it would tighten at the center of balance and transfer the stress across her chest, instead of her neck or flipping her upsidedown.

Plus, it keeps her in the backseat when we have to leave her inside the car. (Yes, only on cool days... if it's a warm day, either my husband or I will wait in the car with the windows down) Most of our trips are up north anyway so heat usually isn't a problem! :o)

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 4th of January 2010

Biggie is happy that he gets enough exercise. :)


Sunday 3rd of January 2010

Great rules! Exercising the dog is KEY. We take Biggie out probably twice as often, and usually try to find an opportunity for him to stretch his legs, whether it is in an empty tennis court or a fenced yard. The more tired the dog is, the better-behaved they will be around family.

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 30th of December 2009

Aw, that's so cute. I should take a road trip with Ace just to go to a place with lots of hiking. Sounds like fun!


Wednesday 30th of December 2009

These tips are great. I'll be legally allowed to drive on my own in 6 months and the first thing on my agenda is a road trip to a dog friendly hotel with Keeda, for lots of hiking and adventures.