Whether you're planning your first vacation together with your dog or your 20th, here's how to make the road trip as successful as possible.

You already have a vivid picture in your mind’s eye of relaxing on the beach while your beloved canine companion peacefully sleeps next to you. Or maybe you can’t wait to go hiking together, or you’re excited to take your dog on his first real trip into the jungle. No matter what you’re planning, the blissful vacation you have in mind can turn into a nightmare if you’re not prepared. Check out these tips to make the road trip with your dog go smoothly.

travel with dogs

Brush Up on Dog Socialization

No matter how well-behaved your dog is, a vacation or roadtrip will test her self-control. If you’re going on a long trip, help your dog prepare for the journey by taking her to dog parks, pet stores, and other dog-friendly places. This helps her get the socialization she needs to not react every time someone walks past your hotel door/camp site/etc.

Make Sure Your Dog is Allowed

Wherever your road trip takes you, make sure your dog can stay with you. Never take a dog to a place that bans pets, you could be fined and left with nowhere to stay. If your dog is hurt or hurts someone, you’ll be liable for taking your dog somewhere she’s not allowed. Call ahead to ensure your dog is welcome, and ask about the specific steps you must take—such as paying a pet deposit or passing a temperament test—to ensure your four-legged companion can stay with you.

2Take the Right Supplies

A road trip can turn into a nightmare if you don’t have everything you need to care of your dog. Take her crate, since this offers a place of comfort and relaxation away from home. When you have to leave your dog alone, put her in the crate, making sure to treat the crate as a positive place, not use it as a punishment. The other supplies you’ll need include:
• Lots of bottled water, especially if you’re going someplace where water isn’t readily available
• Dog food and dog treats; don’t plan on picking up drugstore food since the stress of a diet change and travel can make your dog sick.
• Your dog’s vaccination history, emergency contact information, license or registration, and her tags; make sure your dog wears identification on her collar at all times.
• At least two leashes, in case one breaks.
• Bowls and other miscellaneous supplies

Get Plenty of Exercise

Before you hop in the car or put your dog in the crate as you head to the beach, give her lots of exercise. Sitting in a car for hours during a roadtrip isn’t always as relaxing for dogs as it may be for humans. A tired dog is a dog that is neither anxious nor badly behaved, so no matter how old your pup is or how she feels about traveling, remember that daily exercise will help keep you both calm.

3Make Car Travel Safer

Keep in mind that a car accident is just as dangerous for your dog as it is for you. When on a road trip, put your dog in a well-secured crate or a dog travel harness. To make travel less painful, be sure to take the following steps:
• Take bathroom and exercise breaks at least every two hours.
• Offer your dog lots of water, and a favorite chew toy to devour.
• Keep your car well-ventilated, and regularly check to ensure your dog has enough air.
• Never leave your dog unattended in the car, even for a minute. A hot car can kill a dog in less than five minutes, and abandoned dogs can jump through windows or be stolen. Well-meaning bystanders may even break into your car to “rescue” your dog.

Traveling by car for the first time with dogs can be challenging, but with just a bit of effort, you’ll soon be a pro!