Summer Road Trip Fun with Pets

dog in a car

It’s just past Memorial Day, so you know what that means—summer road trip season! I love the feeling of packing up, getting in the car, and exploring some place new. Traveling with a dog always adds a little bit of complexity to the situation, but luckily it adds a whole lot of fun, too. Over the years, I’ve put together a good checklist for traveling with a pet. From cleaning up after your furry friend to ways to keep Fido happy, here’s my best advice for how to have a great road trip with your dog.

Consider whether your pet should travel
This may seem obvious, but the first thing to think about—before you ever get in the car—is whether your dog should travel. If your pet is sick or doesn’t have the temperament for riding in the car or changing scenery and routine, do him and yourself a favor by finding a trusted pet sitter or calling in a favor from friends or family.

Get a pet restraint
Humans can’t travel without the appropriate restraint in a car, so dogs shouldn’t either. There are lots of options to consider such as vehicle pet barriers, pet seat belts, and even pet car seats that can keep everyone feeling safe on your journey. The best pet restraint for you will depend on your dog’s size, temperament, needs, and possibly even the length of your trip. Make sure to research the safest options.

Plan your route
Traveling with a pet may require more (and longer) breaks than traveling with humans only (unless, of course, you’re used to traveling with small children. Schedule in plenty of potty and exercise breaks to allow you and your pet time out of the car for exercise. Also, allow more time than you need to for your driving in case breaks take longer then planned.

dog outside

Bring enough food and water
Having enough food and water are definitely important criteria for keeping your pet happy on the road, so make sure you bring enough for the car ride. Depending on the length of your trip and your destination, it may be necessary to bring pet food with you if you’re not sure you can find it when you arrive. This is particularly true if you use specialty or even prescription food. Bring a good travel bowl for ease.

Bring the favorites
Favorite toys will help keep Fido occupied both on the road trip and when you reach your destination. Since many aspects of your and your dog’s routine will be disrupted by your trip, having toys he loves can be very helpful. The same is true with bedding—if your dog has a bed, blanket, or other item that will help keep him relaxed or allow him (and you!) to sleep better, bring it!

Be prepared to clean up
Even if your dog regularly rides in your car, you’ll want to have extra supplies to deal with messes on the road. Getting in and out of the car a lot introduces more opportunities for messes, so it can be helpful to have seat covers, wet wipes, and other supplies. I also carry a handheld vacuum to make clean up in the car and at our destination easier.

Sporting Around: Exercise Your Golden

If you want to ensure that your Golden Retriever sticks around for as long as possible, exercise is not a luxury but a critical necessity. Just as people need exercise, golden retrievers can benefit from a daily physical routine. Lucky for you, golden retrievers typically have a good deal of energy and are always down for a good time so it is not hard to get one moving.

Depending on the age of the Golden, the type of exercise will vary. If your Golden is still a puppy, try not to overwork them, as their bones are still fragile and growing. Too much exercise can lead to constant pain as a result of injury, lameness, or deformed bones. (Just think about what it was like when you went through growing pains as a teenager.)

Puppy retrievers
If you are bringing a puppy home, it’s important for you to be well prepared so that you can know what to expect. Puppy golden retrievers can benefit from moderate exercise that lasts between one and two hours. They should attain physical activity mainly through play and should never be forced to be active. Playtime is important for creating a bond as well as stimulating your puppy’s mind.

You can also improve your pup’s socialization by introducing him or her to different smells, sounds, and experiences so that he or she can get used to your world. As the dog continues to develop nearing 1 year old, you can gradually increase the amount of exercise.

Adolescent and adult retrievers
For an older retriever, fitness should be varied and not limited to high-intensity play or activity. Retrievers can get adequate exercise by running and playing with other dogs or they can do so by playing with you. Games such as fetch, running alongside you while jogging or riding a bike, or even on a workout on a treadmill can benefit your Golden considerably.

If your retriever suffers from a disability such as hip dysplasia, swimming can be a perfect alternative to exercise that fragile body. An adult retriever will require at least 1 hour of exercise at least twice per day daily.

Elderly Goldens
Joint pains are common as your dog ages. Some ailments and conditions can be worsened by exercise so it is important to talk to your vet first to maintain your dog’s safety. Every retriever is different; some start to slow down as early as age 8 while others still maintain their bubbly and active personalities as old as 12 years and beyond. Be mindful that you are not pressuring your elderly Golden too much as he or she will probably do anything to oblige you.