Road-tripping is basically a summer must-have, and with the season rapidly approaching (ignore the fact that it is still snowing in some parts of the USA), it’s best to start preparing ASAP. Whether you’re taking a short drive to a hopefully snow-free Cape May or planning a visit to the Grand Canyon, these tips will help ensure that you and your pup have a super-fun, yet super-safe, dog-friendly road trip.

How do I Keep my Dog Calm?

As a dog owner, your biggest priority when planning a dog-friendly road trip is making sure Fido is as comfortable as possible. You may be fully aware of your plans to trek through the Great Smoky Mountains, a cinematic dog-and-owner duo roughing it like a couple of college dropouts in the 70’s – but pups tend to live in the moment. During a lengthy road-trip, your pal will most likely not be dreaming of digging their paws into the soft soil of a misty mountaintop. Instead, they’ll probably be concerned about things like, Woah, what the heck is this giant piece of machinery I’m sitting in? Why is it shaking? What is that sound? Can I tinkle here or should I hold it longer? Are we going to the vet? What’s that smell? I don’t want to go to the vet.

If you’ve noticed that your dog has a habit of panting continuously and is unable to sit still during trips, they’re probably suffering from some travel anxiety. Travel anxiety is incredibly stressful on dogs and it’s important to spend a few weeks in advance of your trip treating this issue. You basically want your pal to associate your car and being inside of it with positive thoughts – I get treats and pets when I’m here! – instead of negative ones – Why is my whole world shaking?! Preventative Vet has a very informative page featuring in-depth tips on how to incrementally help your pal get used to being on the road so you can make your dog-friendly road trip truly dog-friendly.

You can also reduce your dog’s stress through smell. Puppers have amazing noses, so during your road trip together, try providing them with something soft and familiar. Maybe your pup has a favorite stuffed animal, or even a blanket they enjoy sleeping on. Both of these things would help your dog feel more at home while you’re away.


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Provide your dog with ample stops along the way for potty breaks on your dog-friendly road trip! You’ll get to enjoy the scenery and they will feel much better! Photo by: Ben Goldstein

What Should I Bring on a Dog-Friendly Road Trip?

First thing’s first: It’s beyond important that your pal is secure at all times. Just as us humans have to fasten our seatbelts during a car ride, so too do our pups. It is incredibly dangerous to have your dog walking freely around the backseat or trunk. For this reason, find a harness that fits your breed; Kurgo has several options, including a car safety package that contains a crash-tested harness, kibble carrier, and collapsible bowl. Once your pal is wearing their harness, attach them to this dog car zipline, which allows your them to safely move around the backseat.

Be prepared with all of the proper documentation typically required when taking your dog to the vet – you never know if there will be an emergency. There are a variety of apps you can download that will make this process way quicker; a particularly important one being Red Cross Pet First Aid. On this app, you can create a profile for your pet where you can store all of their information and quickly locate the nearest animal hospitals.

Don’t forget the basics. Staple items such as your pup’s favorite kibble, food and water dishes for the kibble, a leash, treats, toys, doggy waste bags, a seat cover (which are also available on Kurgo’s site), and perhaps a crate should not be forgotten! If your pup is on any special medications, be sure to bring those along. And don’t forget to make plenty of stops for your pal to go potty – that is definitely another key element to planning a dog-friendly road trip!


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The best part about a dog-friendly road trip? Waking up next to your best friend! Photo by: Evan P. Cordes

Where to Stay During a Dog-Friendly Road Trip

On you can locate all of the dog-friendly hotels in your vicinity, no matter where you are on your road trip. Airbnb is also a great resource, and you can adjust the search engine’s filters so you’re only suggested spots that welcome furry guests. If worst comes to worst and you discover that your dog is a little less comfortable with long-distance driving than anticipated, do not fret! Canine Concierge offers a variety of services to fit you and your pet’s needs, including boarding, both dog walking and pet sitting visits, and even overnight stays in your home. So it’s really a win-win situation – either you and your pupper get an experience of a lifetime traveling à la Steinbeck and Charley, or you get to take the solo-Steinbeck track and your Charley gets to make new friends at Canine Concierge!

Happy travels!