On a multi-state drive with our mischief-prone Labrador, I shuffled back to our vehicle with two fresh cups of gourmet coffee. While my husband filled the gas tank, I opened the passenger door to set down my travel bag and organize our beverages. Having missed the perky poodle in the next vehicle, I was completely unaware of the looming dog drama. What came next was a body-blocking, caffeine-protecting wrestling match that could easily have resulted in a viral video.
Critical canine travel supplies can protect you from a similar experience.
Barriers: It only takes one or two close calls to realize the importance of installing a pet barrier in your vehicle. They come in all shapes, sizes and types, and prevent your pet from hopping into the front seat in the middle of a multi-lane highway driving session or lunging further out the passenger door during a routine fuel stop.
Bags: In addition to having biodegradable ones on hand to properly grab and package the goods at pet waste disposal stations, carrying a supply of bags solves other issues when traveling with dogs. Soft, resealable bags, whether they're made of plastic or fabric, provide organization for smaller pet travel items and flex to fit available spaces in larger canine luggage such as saddlebags or grab-and-go daypacks. Rather than pack rigidly-shaped containers, my husband and I use zippered pencil pouches, sandwich bags and even recycled cosmetic pouches to hold supplies such as paw salve, medication and fur brushes when we road trip with our Lab.
Distractions: A ready supply of low-calorie treats redirects doggie attention away from things that could cause a curiosity catastrophe. With larger, more energetic dogs in particular, something as seemingly insignificant as a fluffy squirrel in the park might mean an inconveniently-timed Marmaduke moment is near. Tug toy and ball-tossing sessions at highway tourist areas will leave Rover resting instead of rambunctious on the next segment of your family road trip. When the wiggles get the better of him in the back seat, having a new squeaky toy to toss into the mix will keep him occupied until you take your next driving break.
Patience: It might seem obvious, but patience is one of the first things pet parents forget to pack when traveling with dogs. Remember, you already know how much longer you have to ride in the car. Fido doesn't. A few extra minutes of play time at the rest area won't kill you. Plan ahead, and schedule relaxation sessions into your travel itinerary. You'll be rewarded with a much smoother vacation experience overall.
Theriault is the best-selling co-author of the book "10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget," and founder of TrekHound.com, a website for independent travelers. She also founded TheLessonMachine.com, a website for teachers.