Planning a trip with your best furry friend? The best way to ensure you’re going to have a fun-filled adventure is to prepare in advance. The prep work you do before you embark on your journey will pay off in a big way. Here are some helpful tips to make a road trip with your dog as smooth as possible.
Before You Go
Update dog tags and microchips. New environments can make a dog want to roam around and explore. Hey, there are plenty of rocks they’ve never sniffed before! If the worst happens and your pet gets away, updated tags and microchips can help you find them.
Practice riding in the car. If your dog isn’t entirely comfortable riding in a vehicle, it’s a good idea to help them adjust before you take off on your vacation. Start with a short trip and build up to longer distances.
Cover your seats. Muddy paws and nails can do a number on your car’s upholstery. Using a cover will protect your seats from wear and tear. Investing in a hammock-style cover will not only keep your seats clean, but it can also keep your dog safe.
Book accommodations in advance. The last thing you want to do after a long day of travel is hop from one hotel to the next looking for dog-friendly place to spend the night. Also, many campgrounds fill up quickly during peak times of the year, so don’t forget to reserve a spot well before you head out.
As You Pack
Bring vaccination records. If you plan to stop at a dog park or dog-friendly venue, many require up-to-date pet vaccination records for entry.
Bring medications and a pet first aid kit. Don’t forget to pack any medications your dog takes regularly. It’s also a good idea to bring a pet first aid kit in case your dog gets any cuts, sores or rashes – especially if your dog is the dramatic type that refuses to walk if they get a tiny splinter.
Bring familiar items. When you’re out and about, it’s nice to have a bit of home with you to make sure your dog is comfortable in any environment. Water and food bowls are a necessity (as is a crate if your pet is crate trained), but favorite toys, blankets and a bed are also welcome additions.
On the Road
Reward good behavior. While traveling, there are plenty of opportunities for dogs to behave with a little less decorum than one might hope. To combat this, be sure to bring high-value treats and generously reward them when they make good choices.
Keep your dog entertained. If a dog is tired from playing and exploring all day they’ll have less energy to act up and embarrass you in public spaces. It’s simple math.
Take frequent breaks. Traveling with Fido means you’re going to have to stop more frequently than you might be used to. Give your pal the chance to stretch their legs, take a bathroom break and drink some water. (Be sure to bring some poo bags for easy cleanup.)
Do not leave your pet alone in a hot car. It’s not advised to leave your dog alone in the car at any time, but it can be life threatening to leave them alone in a hot car even for a short time. Have a human travel partner stay in the car with your four-legged passenger, or keep the car running while you step away so the air conditioner will stay on.
Now that you’re ready to go, check out these dog-friendly destinations:
Forest Park – St. Louis
Citygarden Sculpture Park – St. Louis
Laumeier Sculpture Park – St. Louis
Purina Farms – Gray Summit
The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art campus – Kansas City
Bar K Dog Bar – Kansas City
Branson Landing – Branson
Fantastic Caverns – Springfield
Joe Dice Swinging Bridge – Warsaw
Missouri conservation areas (All open to dogs.)