Whether you're traveling to go to a competition or just taking your dog on a road trip there are a few things that will either make the trip pleasant or completely uncomfortable, not to mention unsafe.
Just recently my family and I drove over 7 hours to go on a beautiful hike. Well worth the drive. We took our 3 year old dog with us. I have traveled with dogs in the past so this wasn't my first trip. There are a few things that made the trip comfortable that I want to share with you.
1. Get a designated area for the dog.
I have an SUV so this was easy for me. I understand not everyone has an SUV but try to get an area cleared for your dog. This will make the dog comfortable since it wont be stepping all over your things. If you think you can just cram the dog back there because you have no room you'll be setting the dog up for long hours of discomfort. Take the extra step and figure out a system that allows you to pack as much as you can while giving your dog plenty of room.
Try to use a crate if possible! this will make it that much easier to travel. Please introduce the crate before you take your trip. Take your time with it, and make sure there's plenty of reward history. Use a crate that is big enough for the dog to stand up and turn around comfortably. If your dog is squeezed in a crate for a long period of time it wont be fair at all.
2. Don't just throw the dog in the back of your pick up.
I know this is very tempting when you have a pick up truck. Don't do it. You may tell yourself you wont hit anyone but you never know. They're called accidents for a reason. You may be the best driver there is but it wont stop the worst driver from hitting you. You have a seat belt and the impact may be minimal on you but it will be a big deal for your dog. It's a major safely concern that is illegal in some areas. Even if you get a harness that acts as a seat belt you're still doing your dog a disservice by leaving it in the back of the pick up.
If you have a pick up and you're going to put your dog in the back, crate it. Once you've crated the dog, strap it. A crate floating around is just as bad.
3. Leave the AC on and the windows cracked when you leave him in the car.
Depending on how long your trip is, you're gonna have to stop to get a bite to eat and/or stretch your legs. This means you're going to have to leave your dog in the car more than likely. There is a way to do this SAFELY.
Depending on the weather you might be fine just cracking the windows. If the weather is cooler there will be no need to leave the AC on. If the weather is warm, don't take risks at the expense of your dog.
What you want to do here is disconnect the clicker or car alarm remote from the key-chain but leave the key in the ignition with the car running and the AC on at low temperature, if not full blast. When the car is idle it can affect the intensity of the AC. Crack the windows a "just in case" for well, just in case the AC or your car dies.
You also want to park near the window of the establishment and I would add parking in reverse so that from the inside of the building you can get a good view of your vehicle. The reason I suggest parking in reverse is because most dogs are kept in the back of the Car/SUV/Truck.
If your dog has never been left unattended (specially if it's not crated) give it a test run first before you go on your trip.
4. Give your dog time to potty and stretch it's legs too.
Your dog also needs to move around so time potty breaks accordingly. I know you want to get to your destination fast but trust me it'll be better in the long run. Plan your dog's potty breaks on your terms. If you've been driving for five hours now and you think your dog might be due for a potty break, stop when you see an appropriate area. The worst thing you can do is wait till it's too late or your dog is freaking out and now you have to stop on the side of road with a lot of traffic or in a questionable neighborhood.
Please have your dog on leash at all times on these breaks. As we were driving to Palo Duro this car stopped on the side of the road, a dog came out and went right into the road. Had there been more traffic when this happened we would have seen a dog meet its end.
5. If you have to stop for the night, book a pet friendly hotel ahead of time.
You'll be surprised to know not every hotel welcomes pets. Fortunately there are plenty of hotels that do. Do your research and schedule this ahead of time unless you're planning on sleeping in your car in some parking lot.
6. Enjoy the trip.
Don't rush unless you have a deadline. Stop and go for walks and make the trip memorable. It doesn't have to be a long walk, 10 minutes is short and sweet, if you can do more, great!
If your dog has motion sickness you can give it dramamine, but please consult a veterinarian first! he/she'll help you with dosage appropriate for your dog. It can help. There are other meds that can be administered for dogs with motion sickness but I'm not a veterinarian so please check with your dog's veterinarian first!
Crating a dog that has some motion sickness can help also, covering the crate can also help to block the view.