Whether it’s visiting family, heading out on a day trip, or a long vacation, it’s not unusual for people to take their dogs along with them. That being said, please remember that dogs have needs as much as we humans do. Rest stops for potty breaks, a little exercise, and plenty of water. And being safe.
RIDING IN A VEHICLE
That brings us to the subject of safety. Dogs really should travel in a crate, behind a grate barrier or secured in a harness attached appropriately to a seat belt in the back seat, certainly not with their heads hanging out the car window.
By the way, did you know that some states now have laws where you MUST have your dog in a crate while you’re traveling, behind a grate barrier or secured with a harness to a seat belt in the back seat, or you could be ticketed? Pennsylvania and New Jersey are two states, which have such laws in place. It’s a safety issue, not just for Phydo, but for you, the driver, as well.
MORE TO CONSIDER
Put an i.d. tag on your dogs collar/harness or both!
Microchipping is especially important these days.
Using a crate? Securely attach a permanent tag with i.d. and contact info on it.
Should you be in an accident and unable to speak, emergency responders can easily read the information about your dog, who to call, etc., especially as a dog often flees the scene in abject fear.
Without that information, there have been times when rescuers have had no idea that those in the accident had a pet with them. An empty crate does not mean you had a dog or cat with you. It could merely mean you left the crate in your car or truck from another trip, such as going to the vet. Remember, no one is a mind reader.
You'll want to put your dog’s i.d. & contact info in your wallet, too.
Do the same in your phone contacts under ICE (in case of emergency).
Some of this may seem extreme, but trust me, it is not. For my husband and myself, we live not far from a major interstate and I cringe every time I see my rescue friends post that a family or driver from out-of-state were involved in an accident and their dog (or dogs) fled the scene, and no one knew anything about the animal, at first.
Unfortunately, there have been some nasty wrecks, and in such stressful situations dogs will immediately go into flight mode and run mindlessly in any direction away from the crash.
PAUSING AT A REST STOP ALONG THE HIGHWAY
I find “rest stops” or “pet areas” highly suspect. There are far too many people who don’t care or are just too lazy to clean up after their dogs. Shameful, in my book. This makes me head to somewhere other than those assigned areas. Often, I’ll park at the very end of the lot and walk my dog in a small area (poop bag in hand) away from those poop-laden, parasite-infested grassy “pet” areas.
I've even been known to stop at a fast food restaurant and stop at the edge of the parking lot away from the building and walk my dog on the grass there, but I ALWAYS pick up after my dog.
NOTE: Not cleaning up after your dog anywhere (a walk from home, on a trail or even a dog park) has annoyed a great many people and have inadvertantly closed so many areas that it's really limited where you can take your dog in some regions, which leaves everybody's dogs from having any fun there. And it's not the dogs' fault. It's the humans. So honestly, if you don't pick up after your dog, you are part of the problem.
AT YOUR DESTINATION
Try to have as normal a schedule as possible and be sure to add in quiet times. This does not mean playtime or meeting up friends and family. It means just that - a quiet room, time resting peacefully in a crate, perhaps even a nap with you. Perhaps even enjoying a Kong. (see my "THE KONG" blog post.) To do otherwise, gets your dog ramped up and on edge, and frankly, you aren’t setting your dog up success.
Yes, it’s true, some dogs are more social than others, but even they need down time. Think of it as nap time. It puts everyone in a better mood.
STAYING IN CONTROL
To not be in control of your dog leaves you open to literally losing your pet. I always recommend walking your dog on a leash away from home, regardless of how well it's trained. If you're within a fence, it might be another idea, but I'd walk the perimeter to be sure. Overkill? Hardly. I can't tell you have many reports I've read about dogs getting startled and bolting, even over fences, never to be seen again, which I hope never happens to you.
Also, consider a martingale/combo collar for your dog. This is a collar that when fit properly keeps your dog from backing out of its collar and escaping. (You can check out my blog post - "A COLLAR OR A HARNESS?").
Even if your dog has never done it before that doesn’t mean it’ll never happen. It’s better to be safe than sorry. I never want to lose one of my best friends in such a way.
Most importantly, NEVER leave your dog unattended outside. That can really be upsetting to your dog, especially away from home, and lead to some unwanted consequences.
I'm not trying to be an alarmist here, but I've heard the stories too many times not to try to bring up these issues. So, if you take Phydo with you for a trip to get a burger or to visit your great aunt five states away, please do everything you can to keep him or her safe.
Remembering that your dog is truly YOUR RESPONSIBILITY and taking the steps to keep him or her safe, is a big step in maintaining a great relationship with your dog, one that can last for a lifetime.