When you road trip across North America, there are a million places to go. Along with pit-stop gems and a cruise past the world’s largest ball of yarn, traveling by car is fun because your furry friends can join you. But if you want everyone to return home healthy and happy, there are a few important safety tips you need to know before you hit the open road.
Keep them in the backseat
Most dogs get over-excited in the car, bouncing around from front to back and window to window and taking in all the sights and sounds. But roaming around in the car isn’t safe for you or them. Close to 30 percent of dog owners said they have been distracted by their pooch while operating a moving vehicle, according to a Kurgo/AAA study, and 84 percent say they don’t use a restraint in the car. Consider hooking your dog up to a harness made specifically to keep him safe. Ruff Rider’s Roadie seat belt is orthopedically and ergonomically sound and allows your pup to sit, stand or lay down so they can stay comfortable on your cross-country trip. It’s even been crash tested for extra peace of mind.
Plan for lots of breaks
The worst thing you can do on a road trip is assume your dog will take potty breaks on your schedule. Wrong! Pets go when they need to go, no compromise. Plan your route ahead of time and mark rest stops along the way, suggests dog whisperer Cesar Milan. Imagine if you’re driving through Death Valley in the dead of summer and have to stop for an emergency break among the cacti and tumbleweeds. That’s not anyone’s idea of a good time!
Be prepared for land and sea
Road trips often lead you off the beaten path, and sometimes that means right into water. Live in the Midwest? A quick trip across Lake Superior to Ontario is certainly a trek worth making. But remember, rules on the open water apply to your pets too. Make sure you have all the proper safety gear, including a doggie life jacket and get the proper boating operator’s card for the area. If your dog loves to paddle, keep an eye on him to avoid too much water intake, as lakes are often contaminated with pollutants that can make your dog sicker than…a dog.
Never leave them unattended
It should go without saying, but too many pet owners make this mistake not to mention it. An animal should never—ever—be left unattended in a vehicle. Even if the weather is beautiful and you’re only going to grab a quick bite, it’s not worth the risk. Make sure your entire trip is pet-friendly from start to finish to avoid this dangerous situation. Find pet-friendly restaurants on BringFido.com, and make sure the hotels you book will allow Fido to stay for minimal fees. Motel 6 may not be the most glamorous option, but it’s perfect for road trips because not only are they located all across the U.S., they also allow “well behaved” dogs to stay for FREE! Now that’s a deal we can wag our tails about.