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The Travelling Canine

Updated on May 27, 2013
Safe environment for car and for a pit stop or even outdoor stay.
Safe environment for car and for a pit stop or even outdoor stay. | Source
Argus & Peanut on vacation at the Pinery, Ontario, Canada.
Argus & Peanut on vacation at the Pinery, Ontario, Canada. | Source

It is summer - the perfect time to pack up your family in the car and hit the road. You plan to see Canada, America or Europe NOW. You think you have all contingencies covered. You have stopped newspaper delivery and have a friend turning on the lights. You have someone coming in to water the plants and the garden and mow the grass. Everyone is hyped for this trip, including the dog.

Yes, you are planning to subject your canine to a long trip across the province, state or country. You may believe you are prepared, but have you taken all the measures possible to ensure your beloved canine is set to enjoy the trip? If you want everyone to have a good trip – with no one threatening to mutiny half way there, you need to make sure the most vulnerable family members are properly taken care of. If you do not have young children but have a dog, it is your responsibility to prepare for his or her needs.

Pre-Trip Preparations

Before you even plan your trip, ask yourself these questions:

1. “Will my dog (and the rest of the family) actually enjoy it?”

2. “Is it feasible for me to take my pet to this particular place? “

3. “Are there suitable spots along the way to stop and let the dog out?”

4. “Are there hotels, camping spots, etc., that welcome pets?”

5. “Is the distance we are travelling on a daily basis comfortable for my dog?”

If you have answers to these questions, you may proceed to the actual planning of the event. If you do not, or the answers are in the negative, do rethink your plans.

Always phone or e-mail ahead to see whether your dog can stay with you. If you cannot find a hotel or camping spot that accepts pets, either cancel that particular trip or arrange for a kennel, dog sitter or doggy camp. Depending upon the nature of your pet and the type of trip you are planning, these may be better options.

There are other preparations you need to take care of before you embark. The most basic is updating your dog’s shots. Make arrangements with your vet to have this performed. Obtain proof you have done so and keep one copy available in a safe place in case you need it. Talk to your vet and pet store expert about any other necessary precautions. These may include:

1. Specific treatment for problems such as Lyme Disease

2. Natural pest protector

3. De-skunker

4. Water wings or floatation devices – if you plan a trip near or in the water

5. Reflectors for collars, harnesses and leashes

6. An extra leash and collar in case one gets lost

7. Tags – both ID and indicative of his or her shots

8. Any other related information that will help identify your dog and/or keep him or her safe while you travel. This may also include an updated picture, registration papers, etc.

Packing for your Canine

Your dog usually cannot pack for him or herself. You need to take care that everything needed is included. Be sure to look far beyond a collapsible food and water bowl, food for the duration, special treats and water. Think of his or her bed, blanket, squeaky toy and chewie.

Also put together an emergency first aid kit containing at least the basics: scissors, bandages, blanket, gauze, antibiotic ointment or cream and antiseptic cream or ointment. Keep it where you can get at it in case of emergency.

On the Road

Some dog owners never travel without putting their dog inside a kennel or “behind bars” to prevent wandering, harm or loss. Others have a dog seat belt which keeps the canine firmly in place while in the vehicle. Some dogs simply lie in the back seat or sit on someone’s lap. This choice is up to you and must reflect the nature and travelling capabilities of your canine.

Remember, your canine requires pit stops. Exercise is great for him or her and you as well. Stop to enjoy the scenery at a safe place – not the side of a busy highway unless there is a designated place to park and walk. Never take the leash off or allow free roaming. Accidents can happen in a nano second. This is not how you want to remember your road trip.

When you arrive at your destination, make sure you watch your dog for any signs of fear, uncertainty and nervousness. If you spot any, calm him or her down before you do anything else. Introduce the animal to the living situation. Take a walk around the block or in the woods. Feed, water as necessary then make sure everyone is safely settled for the night.

When you tour a place that does not allow dogs, do not leave the animal alone in the car. (NEVER EVER Leave a dog alone in a car in summer anytime let alone in a strange place.) Arrange for a visit to dog day care, have someone stay and play with the canine or go somewhere else that is dog friendly. You should know about these places before you leave and make arrangements in advancement for any sudden desires to visit a place where canines cannot tread.


Many dogs are quite adaptable. They also enjoy being in the presence of their human companions no matter what crazy thing they are doing. In fact human closeness, rather than an actual place, defines home to them. That being said, not all dogs enjoy travelling across the country. Some are better off if left at home in the care of a carefully selected dog provider. Know what your dog prefers BEFORE you plan a road trip.


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    • Esmeowl12 profile image

      Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      These are great ideas. We recently took a 12-hour car trip with our Australian Shepherd. It went great - because we prepared ahead of time. Voted up and useful.