It's officially summer vacation, which means it's time to hit the road! But for some pups, the idea of hours in the car is less of an adventure and more like a V-E-T trip. If you're looking to include your pup in your summer adventures but don't know how to make her comfortable in the car, here are 7 ways to roadtrip with your dog WITHOUT too much stress.
1. Create a comfy space that's hers.
Road trips are all about comfort. Humans know that terrible cricked-neck, cramped-leg feeling when you've been in the car too long! To make your adventure as pup-friendly as possible, build out a space in the car that's specifically for your dog. If she's crate trained, she may be more comfy in a kennel with the door open than the entire back seat.
Focus on items that are familiar and comfortable, like favorite toys and a blanket or towel that smells like home. Accessorize with a clip-on water bowl or bottle (or if constant water access isn't realistic for your car layout, make sure to offer water every hour or so to keep her hydrated).
2. Get some practice in before "Launch Day".
A big part of car comfort is practice. If your dog has only ever jumped in the car to go to the vet or another stressful place, he's going to have a less-than-excited opinion toward car rides.
The best way to make your dog comfortable with car rides is to practice: next time you head to the grocery store for a jug of milk, bring your pup along. Get him used to drives and breaks -- and going to the bathroom in weird places -- and you'll thank yourself for getting in that extra training before your road trip.
3. Schedule your potty breaks.
If you're hitting the road with a dog you've had for a long time, you're probably already familiar with her "potty schedule". Generally, puppies need to "go" about once an hour, while older dogs can hold it for four hours or more. As a rule of thumb for road trips, make sure to stop and give your pup a chance to stretch her legs (and take care of business) at least every four hours.
This is a good rule for humans, too! And if you get into the habit of walking your pup every time you stop to "go" yourself (or vice versa), you can keep everyone happy and comfortable at every stop along the highway.
4. Stick to your normal food schedule.
Pups can sometimes become anxious on long drives, or have upset stomachs that make them less likely to eat. A good way to avoid those road trip tummy troubles is to stick to your dog's normal feeding schedule. If he usually eats breakfast at nine and dinner at six o'clock sharp, make sure to offer meals at those times. That familiarity will help your pup get over any nervousness or confusion and enjoy a hearty meal.
If you're struggling to get your dog to eat, especially on a multi-day road trip, it's a good idea to pack a pup-friendly snack like canned pumpkin or wet dog food -- something that's healthy and safe for your dog to eat, but something of a "treat". And as always, be sure to talk to your vet before making any changes to your pet's diet!
5. Plan out pooch-friendly hotels.
There's nothing worse than getting sleepy at one AM and not being able to find a place that will accept your dog. Before you hit the road, check out which dog-friendly hotels and motels are available on your route. If you're planning a trip with multiple overnight stays, pick out places where you're likely to stop and make sure that you'll be able to find a hotel when you do.
One trick to follow is to pick out three destinations where you might stop for the night: the place you WANT to reach, a place that's a little further if you feel good and want to keep driving, and a place that's a little closer than what you're expecting, so you know you've got a place to stop if your schedule gets thrown off. (We see you, South Carolina traffic!)
6. Keep an extra eye out for safety.
Like so many other adventures in pet ownership, road trips are a critical place to watch out for your dog's safety. This can be as simple as making sure she has grass to snuffle and do her business in (rather than gas station tarmac), or as forward-thinking as buying a seatbelt harness to keep her safe on the highway.
While you're thinking about safety, make a commitment to factor in heat. Heat is one of the major dangers for dogs, particularly in cars: make sure your dog's comfy car spot has good access to AC, and give frequent water breaks (and ice cubes or dog-friendly ice cream) whenever you stop. And above all, DON'T leave your dog in the car when you break for lunch! Use an app like BringFido or read Yelp reviews to find a dog-friendly restaurant where your pup can escape the heat (and the closeness of the car) during your meals.
7. Take lots of pictures!
All right, so this last one isn't really about anyone's comfort -- but half the point of a road trip with your pooch is to fill up that Instagram! No matter where your summer takes you, make sure to get lots of photos of your adventures with your best friend. (Bonus points if you get a super cute one of him posing with a famous landmark, or a kitschy tourist trap!)
And while you're at it, don't forget to tag us on Instagram @frenchie_bulldog. We love seeing what you all get up to in your favorite Frenchie gear, and we're so happy to keep you company on all of your adventures!
Stay tuned for exciting new summer gear coming next week (Eeeee!) and be sure to shop our New Arrivals!