5 Top Tips for Travel with Your Dogs

A black and white dog looking our of the window  of a car

Dogs are part of the family. We take them everywhere, including the workplace. Leaving them behind, especially when you’re headed for outdoor adventures, is never the first choice. With some preparation and the right gear, you’ll enjoy problem-free road trips. We’re here to help with expert tips for traveling by car with your beloved canine.

A small dog running through a field

1. Preparation Is Not Just for Boy Scouts

A family taking a walk with their dog

Get Some Exercise

Make sure you give your pup a run or walk before jumping in the car or van. A sleepy, comfortable dog is a happy traveling companion.

How to Hike Safely with Your Dog
A dog in the back of a green truck while the woman is sitting half outside the truck looking at a map

Map Your Route

Make sure you map out dog-friendly stops along your way to account for bathroom breaks.

A sitting dog looking at the camera

Documentation

Pack your dog’s photo in case you need to make posters or fliers. And bring a copy of their vaccination records and a certificate of health if you’re crossing state lines with them.

Two dogs sitting on a boat wearing personalized collars

2. Properly Identify & Restrain Your Dog for Travel

Stack of Orvis personalized collars in a colorful aray

Identification

Personalize your dog’s collar with their name and your phone number. Peace of mind is priceless. Always use a leash with a sturdy collar or harness when visiting unfamiliar environments and busy areas like parking lots that hold multiple distractions and possibly other dogs.

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An Orvis Travel Crate in the back of a car.

Restraints

The car harness is a great restraint system to use when traveling with your dog; it works with the car’s seatbelt system. Your dog retains the freedom to shift around but stays secured to the seat. Check state laws regarding dog restraint requirements. A portable crate can be a big help while setting up camp, staying in a hotel, and keeping them contained and calm while in the vehicle.

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A windowed dog hammock stuffed with dog toys

3. Choose Dog-Specific Gear for Car Travel

A dog eating out of a Travel Bowl

Mealtime

Pack bowls in the car and try to keep your dog on their regular feeding schedule, if possible. When you pack your dog's kibble, measure only what you need for the trip and store it in a securely sealed it in a container they can’t reach while you’re driving.

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A dog in the back seat of a car with a No-Splash Travel Bowl

Hydration

Always keep fresh water accessible and if you're traveling in the heat, make sure to store water in a proper container so it stays cool. If your pup is reluctant to drink on the road (some dogs refuse), hydrate them liberally the day before you go. Encourage their thirst with peanut butter treats.

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Showing the contents of the Field Dog First Aid Kit

Health & Wellness

A canine-specific first aid kit could buy you some time in an emergency or save you a trip to the vet for a minor problem. And don’t forget your dog's prescription meds; use a pill dispenser just like yours to apportion what they’ll need for the trip.

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A dog sitting in the back seat on a car on a Grip-tight seat protector

4. Create a Comfortable Car Environment

A dog sitting in the backseat of a car on their couch bed insert

Reminders of Home

Familiar items are proven to increase dogs’ feeling of security. Bring their dog bed if it fits comfortably in the car or include a favorite blanket or toy that smells reassuring.

A dog looking out a window of a car

Regulating Temperature

Even if the air is on full and it feels great in the driver’s seat, the sun may be beating on your dog where they're sitting. Use suction cup window shades if they’ll be riding in direct sunlight for long periods. Use a car seat protector that allows ventilation.

A dog chewing on an Animal Squeaky Toys

Keep Them Occupied

Pack your dog’s favorite toys and treats. Switch toys up to keep them stimulated on long car rides. The familiar smell of their plush toys will help minimize dog travel anxiety. Give them a few treats from time to time. Smaller treats given at well-timed intervals in lieu of a large meal before travel will help keep a dog who is prone to carsickness sated enough for comfort over the long haul.

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Two dogs sitting in the back seat of a car on a Grip-Tight® Heritage Hammock Seat Protector

5. Keep Your Dog and Your Car Clean During Travel

A dog laying on an Orvis Grip-Tight® Quilted Hose-Off Cargo Protector

Use Protective Seat Covers or a Rear Seat Hammock

Seat covers safeguard all kinds of upholstery from dog hair, dirt, and unmentionables, and protect upholstery from sharp claws. They can be easily shaken out to remove debris between washings.

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A woman cleaning her dog with a Muddy Dog Travel Shower

Bring Dog Shampoo & Grooming Supplies

Be ready to bathe your dog during your trip. Keep small, moist towels or wipes in the car to clean your dog's muddy paws and belly, or to wipe toxic de-icing chemicals from their pads if you travel in the winter.

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A dog getting wiped down with a Microfiber Dog-Drying Towel

Pack Cleaning Supplies for Dog Messes

Include waste bags, rubber gloves, paper towels, multi-purpose cleaner, and garbage bags. Old towels come in handy for all kinds of uses.

A woman walking wearing waders while her dog runs by her side.

NOW FOR THE FUN PART—Enjoy Time Together!

The great experiences you’ll share make all the preparation worth it. Get outside, play, and explore, then share your adventures. Tag @orvis on social and upload your pics to the Orvis Cover Dog Contest. You may see your pup in the next Orvis catalog. 

Hannah packing up the car with her two dogs

How to Travel with Dogs in the Car

Long car trips can be tough on dogs and people. Orvis Women’s Product Developer Hannah Perkins, has logged thousands of miles with dogs on board, and she shares some of her best tips for making road trips with dogs better for all involved.

Car & Travel