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traveling with a dog

Traveling With a Dog by Car

traveling with a dogTraveling with a dog by car can be fun and uneventful. My dog loves to travel by car and she wants to go everywhere I go, except for anywhere that has fireworks.

First, make sure your dog rides well in a car. Any issues your dog may have with riding in a car need to be solved before you travel a long distance with your dog. In the near future I will be writing about challenges your dog may have with riding in a car.

Traveling With My Dog

Freckles always rides in the car with her travel harness as she lays on the backseat and sleeps the whole time we are moving in the car. When we stop, she gets up and I take her for a walk and give her water.

I am writing this post as my husband and I, along with Freckles, are traveling from south Florida to Buffalo, NY. Since the trip is 1365 miles each way, we will be staying in a motel overnight during our trip north.

It’s a good idea to plan your trip if you are planning on spending the night in a motel. We are choosing a point about halfway and I have researched motels in the area to see which one best suits our needs.

Find out what restaurants are near the motel you chose and you will be able to order take out food before you go to the motel. I find this to be the easiest way since you can’t leave your dog alone.

When we stop at the motel is when I will feed Freckles. The first thing I do is set up her food and water bowls. She will sniff around the room first and then she will eat. While she is sniffing we will be eating our food.

After everyone is fed, we will all take a long walk and stretch our legs for a while. If she still has energy, we will play with her until she tires and lays on the bed. We will watch a little TV while relaxing and get a good rest before the next day of driving.

Your dog may not travel by car as well as Freckles does. Below are some things you should do and things you should not do.

What to Bring

Below is a list of things you should bring along on your trip with your dog.
•    Collar or harness and leash
•    Paper towels
•    Bags to clean up after your dog when walking
•    Water bowl, water, food bowl, food, treats
•    Travel harness or crate
•    An old sheet to protect your car seats

If you will be spending the night, also bring along bedding and toys. Bringing along some of your dogs things will make them feel more comfortable.

I always take a cooler and ice also, but this is optional. I place water bottles and drinks inside. It’s nice to give your dog a cool drink of water instead of warm water, especially during hot weather.

Things to Avoid

traveling with a dog by carSome dogs can get car sick just as people can. It’s best to have your dog travel on an empty stomach. Feed your dog 3 to 4 hours before you are planning on leaving.

A sick dog in your car can ruin a trip really quick, for you and your dog. I will give my dog a small treat after she takes a walk during the trip.

When you stop to take your dog for a walk and give them water, choose a quiet area as to not upset your dog. I find that rest areas are a good place to walk your dog. Most rest areas have very large grassy areas to walk your dog away from other people.


Make sure you choose a pet friendly motel to stay in. You may want to call ahead and ask about restrictions they may have on pets. There are many national chains that are pet friendly.

As you are driving up to the motel, look for grassy areas where you can walk your dog. I always ask for a quiet first floor room close to an outside door if you can’t enter the room directly from outside.

Planning in advance can make your trip more enjoyable for you and your dog. Take breaks along the way and walk your dog for exercise because if you don’t they will be full of energy when you get to your destination.

Feel free to leave a comment or share a story about your dog. The information on this website is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian, dog trainer, or dog behavioral specialist.






  1. Thanks very much for these tips! We are hoping to take a long road trip like yours over Spring break, and traveling with our dog, Toby, has been our main concern. He seemed to get pretty stressed by our last trip, and we ended up having to turn around early and find a dog sitter. Do you have any ideas for how to calm them if they don’t seem to be adjusting well to being away from home? Or are we just better off planning to get a sitter again? Thanks again for the article!

    • Alice

      September 13, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      Hi Deedee! Thank you for your comment. I can understand your concerns for Toby. I recommend the Thundershirt for dogs that get stressed. You can read my review here. I have seen it work in many situations including my own dog. You put it on them when they are calm and it helps keep them calm. Since your trip is going to be a long road trip, I would recommend getting a dog sitter if he did well the last time you used a sitter. You don’t want to be 1000 miles from home with a stressed out dog. In the meantime, maybe you could take some short trips with Toby to get him used to being away from home. Start with an hour or two in a calm situation, like a quiet park. If Toby does well, add more time on each day trip and maybe he will adjust to being away from home.

  2. We have toyed with the idea of bringing a dog into our family but we always get back to the problem of what to do if and when we travel.

    We will certainly take these points on board next time the topic of ‘should we, shouldn’t we’ comes up.

    • Alice

      September 23, 2016 at 2:40 pm

      Getting a dog is a serious decision and responsibility. I am glad that you are thinking ahead of the problems you could incur. I always travel by car with my dog but many people use a dog sitter or kennel when they travel. Or maybe you have a friend or family member that could keep your dog when you travel. Thank you for your comment.

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