I have a dog. She's a lovely golden retriever who came into our lives about a year and a half ago when she was 13 weeks old. She reminded me of a potato - tanish, small, round in an oblong way. Traveling with her at first was super easy. However, she is now a 55 pound fur storm waiting to happen. On a recent overnight trip with my mother, she was great. Or at least that's what my mom said. To me, that was just how Delta was. Because we became dog parents while I was still in grad school (and we lived many states away from our families), my husband and I did a lot of road trips with her from the get go. Let me just tell you, things aren't always perfect when traveling with a dog, but I have learned a few things along the way.
1. Dog. Hammock.
If you have fabric seats, these will save your fabric from becoming so entangled with dog hair that you have to sell your car. If you have leather seats, this will save your seats from puncture marks. Dog hammocks are easy to find and sold in tons of places. It's simply a sturdy sheet of fabric (oftentimes with a waterproof outside) that attaches to the headrests of your back and front seat. This creates a whole area for your dog to travel in. They can sit or stand or sleep in the area and don't have to worry about falling into the floor. Delta has taken to sleeping in the car which is just fine with us. It also creates a barrier between the floorboard and the dog, so you can use that for packing things. There have been times where she didn't ride in the hammock, and in those times, we put her harness on her and buckled her in. The harness came with a loop that I'd put the seat belt through and then off we went.
2. Dedicate a bag.
My dog has her own bag. It's essentially like what I imagine a diaper bag is for kids, but it's got a ton of stuff in it. It's where we keep her flea/tick and heart worm meds even when we aren't traveling (that way we never end up forgetting them at home when we do travel). In the bag we include extra poop bags, treats, a collapsible water bowl, dog refresh spray, and a couple of toys.
3. Towels are a must.
We throw these in with her bedding in the hammock, but trust me, there's nothing worse than having a wet dog (from rain, the lake...you never know) and not being able to dry them at least somewhat. On a recent trip to Iowa, we met a friend and their dog at a nature center. The dogs both took a dip in the lake and thankfully we had a few towels in the trunk. We also then found a DIY Dog Wash (usually operated in conjunction with a car wash or laundry mat). I HIGHLY suggest them if you ever are in a situation where you have a smelly dog and don't want them stinking up your AirBnB. For just $12, we had a clean dog! I'm calling that a win. I just googled "DIY Dog Wash" and found one near us.
4. Pre scoop the food.
At home, we buy 40 or 50 pound bags of dog food (thanks Chewy.com for not making me haul those). BUT, when you're taking a sedan, the last thing you want taking up a ton of space for your weekend trip is a giant bag of food. Enter - pre scooped food. If we were just going to be gone for a few days or if we were going to be going multiple places, we just scoop her food into individual bags/containers. This way, we only have to bring in the portion of food she needs for that meal. I know that plastic bags aren't the greatest thing for the Earth, BUT we were trying to get them used up, so I'll be looking into alternative containers for her once we are out of bags.
5. Dog Vomit is Gross
Our dog can't travel after she eats. Well, unless we want the smell of dog vom in the car. I'll spare you the details of the awful instances of this we've encountered that left us cleaning a dog hammock at a gas station somewhere along a highway in Missouri. Basically, we've had to make sure that we don't feed our dog dinner then hop in the car. This also means saying no to the nice pup cups offered by Chickfila and others. I wish she could...but also no.
I hope this makes your next adventure with your fur friend a bit more enjoyable and a bit less stressful.