7 Tips to Pack When Your Dog is Your Co-Pilot 

by Maria Brooks

There’s a reason why dogs are considered as man’s best friend and that’s because they’re the best companions a human can ever have. They stay by your side no matter what and they certainly don’t abandon you when the going gets tough. Don’t believe me? There are incredible and heartwarming humans-rescued-by-dogs stories on the internet that’ll make you weep like a baby.


So, I think it’s just fair that we do the same for our furry companions as well – especially when our dog is a co-pilot during a great outdoor road trip and adventure. When humans prepare for a long drive, dogs, on the other hand, also need some preparations to make the entire journey pleasing and enjoyable. If you think you can just let your pooches get into the car and set off; you’re clearly mistaken. One teeny-weeny distraction can be the death of a fun adventure. So do yourself and your dog a favor and do these top 7 tips when your dog is your co-pilot. 


1. Are Your Dogs Road-Trip Newbies? 


If your dogs are first-timers in long-drive journeys, it’s very important to start small and get them accustomed to the feel of being in a moving car first. Some dogs don’t even know what to do the moment you open a car door. My 8-year-old golden retriever was once this naïve but after 7 years of taking her on short and long drives, she now obediently waits by the passenger door the moment she sees me getting her blankets (melts my heart every time). Get your dogs inside a stationary car first, try opening the windows so they get some fresh air. Then next is to turn the engine on while your dog is inside. Then go for short drives until you see that your dog is comfortable sitting on the passenger seat or back seat (I prefer my dog on the former) and gradually increase the distance once your dog has behaved enough to sit through the entire long journey. 


2. Safety for Your Dogs First 


As I’ve mentioned, one slight distraction from your furry friend like when they jump onto your lap can lead to major accidents. Practice safety for you and your dogs at all times. Here are several ways to secure your dogs in a long drive.


• Strap on a seat belt harness or a zip line harness.

• Put your dog in a crate.

• If you have a small pooch, get a carry box you can hang in the back of the seat.

• Try a back seat hammock.

• Place a barrier between you and your dogs if they’re in the back seat. 

• If your dogs want to move around, place them in the boot but make sure you set up a barrier as well. 


3. Bring Your Dog’s Essentials and Favorites


You want the entire journey to be enjoyable for your dogs and if in case they’re not used to being outside their comfort zones; then make sure to bring their favorite toys all throughout the trip. In addition, never forget to bring enough dog food in case you’re going camping for a couple of days. Of course, you must also bring their water bowls to keep them hydrated especially when driving during the summer. On the flip side, when driving during the winter, don’t forget to bring their space blankets to keep them warm as these blankets retain 80 percent of your dog’s body heat. 


4. Take Breaks Often 


A good rule of thumb is to take breaks after every two hours of driving. If humans need to stretch after prolonged positions, dogs need it too! Let them get out of the car to walk around a bit or take a pee break. How would you feel if you’re holding it in for hours? Not good, right? Always remember that your dog can’t tell you if they need to go and you of all people know your dog’s behavior very well so read the signs carefully.


5. Don’t Feed Your Dog Right Before the Trip


Same with humans, you should never feed your dog a few minutes before a long drive – unless you want smelly poop all over your leather seats. If it’s a short drive, say, an hour or two; wait until you get to your destination before feeding your dog. If it’s a long drive, feed your dog three to four hours before the trip. Even if your dog is potty trained, feeding them right before the trip might make them feel uncomfortable and restless.


6. Check if the Location is Dog-Friendly   


Check if the destination allows dogs beforehand. The last thing you want when reaching your destination is getting shooed away because of your furry companion. If you’re visiting a National Park, there might be restrictions in the campgrounds, parking lots, or even picnic areas. So if you want to chill with your dog a bit after trekking, make sure these areas are dog-friendly. If you’re taking your dog to a public or private beach; ensure that there are no stipulations against walking your dog along the shore. Furthermore, follow rules wherever you are. If your dog is required to be on a leash, then do just that. 


7. Bring a First-Aid Kit 


Mishaps can happen anytime during an adventure with your dog. So always be prepared and bring a first-aid kit. A basic first-aid kit should include the following:


• Cohesive bandages 

• Non-stick bandage pads

• Muzzle

• Adhesive tapes

• Antiseptic wipes

• Cotton balls and swabs

• Gauze rolls

• Hydrogen peroxide for wounds and to induce vomiting

• Portable cold pack

• Rubber gloves

• Thermometer

• Scissors 

• Tweezers

• Sterile saline solution for wounds

• Antihistamines 

• Antibiotic ointment

• Oral syringe 

• Splints 

• Vet’s contact number

• A dog first-aid book


Making your dog as your co-pilot can be the best bonding moment between humans and animals. This is one way to get to know your dogs better and not to mention delight in cuteness overload. These simple tips will guarantee that the whole experience will be seamless and if in case you experience some bumps along the way, then you know you have a first-aid kit to handle the issue properly. 


Author Bio: Maria Brooks, a certified pet first aid, CPR and safety instructor, frequent traveller and a passionate blogger, loves to write about pets, pet diet and pet care. She frequently blogs at qcpetsitting, which offers the best dog walking and pet sitting services in Charlotte.