Labor day is just around the corner, and as the long weekend symbolic of the end of summer, it’s sure to be a peak travel time for Americans.
Pet parents know that when planning a family vacation, your destination can’t just be kid friendly — it has to be dog friendly, too! And when you have Fido in tow, taking a road trip is way, way more manageable than braving the airport. (According to AAA, 88 percent of long weekend travelers will opt to go by car instead of by jet).
That said, not every one of our furry friends has a nose for adventure. If your pup is prone to anxiety, or just more of a homebody, here’s what you can do to make sure he has a happy, healthy, tail-wagging good time while you’re out on the road.
TIP #1: TAKE A JOY RIDE
First, was your pup’s last ‘road trip’ a trip to the vet? If so, chances are he’s going to get nervous when he hears your keys jingling. Before your trip, take him on a short ride to the park or designate your own ‘take your dog to work day’ to make the car a place where fun things happen, too.
TIP #2: MAKE CRATE TIME ‘TREAT TIME’
After you’ve gotten Fido used to the car, use reward-based conditioning to make his travel crate a safe and happy place. If he hasn’t been crate trained, get him used to the new space with lots of his favorite treats. If he associates crate time with treat time, soon he’ll be drooling every time he crawls inside.
TIP #3: PAMPER YOUR PUP
Once you’re on the road, turn your car into a doggie day spa! Just like humans, pups feel most peaceful in a calming environment, so give your dog a back rub, try using a lavender oil diffuser, and play soothing music while you’re driving down the road.
TIP #4: BRING ‘HOME’ WITH YOU
Because dogs like familiarity, bring along their snuggly blankets and favorite toys. On arrival at your destination, set up your dog’s crate and food bowls, stick to a normal feeding schedule, and keep your walking routine.
TIP #5: SPOIL THEM SILLY
Finally, while on a trip, it’s even more important than usual to reward your pup for good behavior. Treats build positive associations with new sights and sounds and remind your furry family members that you love them.
If you’re a pet parent, you already know that pups are much more than just pets—they’re family! A vacation abroad may sound glamorous, but the best memories you make this summer are likely to be the ones where you’re surrounded by those you love. So pile into the family car and say goodbye to lost baggage, delayed flights, and shrinking airplane seats—you won’t miss them.