Eleven Tips for a Dog on a Road Trip


When you’ve spent two weeks driving  4,153 miles / 6,684 kms with a dog, you learn a practical thing or two along the way!

Here are Banjo and my top tips for going on a road trip with a [large] dog:

Image © Kurgo 1. Safety first! Invest in a seat-belt or other restraining device.  This is as much for your safety as it is for your Shyhound’s!  I recommend the Kurgo Auto Zip-Line, which comes with an adjustable harness.  With it, your Shyhound is kept safe, but is free to stand up, turn around, and lie down. Absolutely essential if you plan on spending several hours a day in the car.

Image © Kurgo 2. Protect your car too! Dog fur, muddy paws, and carsick drool can quickly dirty the backseat of your car. Why waste time cleaning it when you can hose/ shake off the dirt from a well-fitting cover instead? We like the Kurgo Wander Hammock – its ingenious design means it arrives in a carrying case which attaches to the back of the front seat – perfect for holding spare poop bags, toys, a collapsible water bowl. As a bonus, it also comes with its own water bottle, which is great for keeping your pup hydrated on the road.

3. Speaking of water: as dogs’ stomachs are sensitive to change, some recommend you bring a supply from home and others say to buy bottled water. Banjo’s stomach is fairly sensitive, but he was OK with national hotel chain tap water. Just let the faucet run for a minute before filling up your Shyhound’s bowl.

4. As for food, bring more than you need – an extra day’s worth for every 3 days you’ll be on the road. As for when to feed Shyhound, do so last thing at night. S/he will be more likely to poop first thing in the morning, which makes for a more comfortable journey the next day.   And if you place Shyhound’s food and water bowls in the bathroom, it will be easier to clean up spillages and crumbs. [Does anyone else have a dog who likes to walk with his mouth full??]

5. Bring a blanket that smells of home.   Use it to protect your hotel bed from Shyhound’s fur – and therefore your credit card against extra room charges!  Plus, it will be a comforting smell for a Shyhound in an unfamiliar place, and it’s nice to cuddle up to in the car on a long journey.  If you bring a soft laundry bag, save room in the trunk (boot) by giving it to your Shyhound to use as a lovely, stinky pillow!

6. There are more dog-friendly hotel chains out there than you realise!  Some charge a pet fee, some require a deposit, others don’t.  For sheer value, we liked Motel 6 – less than $60 a night, and no pet fee.  La Quinta definitely had the nicest rooms and the best continental breakfast, but cost around $100/night with no pet fee.  Best Western seemed to have more hotels in more places, it costs as much as La Quinta AND charged a $20 fee, and the rooms weren’t as spacious. Best of all, should you find yourself in Gallup, NM, do stay at El Rancho Hotel – $100 a night, no fee. (They also have a cheaper motel across the parking lot.)

7. There are plenty of websites which list dog-friendly accommodations and attractions – invaluable for when it comes to planning your trip.  We liked BringFido and DogFriendly.  Although we wished both sites were optimised for handheld devices, we were able to find dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, and off-leash dog parks.  You can also find local veterinary offices, should you need them in an emergency.

8. Stretch your legs – all four of them!  Be sure to stop every couple of hours to let your Shyhound go to the bathroom.  You’ll benefit physically and mentally from a break too.   Take your Shyhound for a brisk walk last thing at night, and, if possible, try to find an off-leash park for him/ her to tear around in before a long journey. Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog and the last thing you want is a hyperactive dog in the car.  At best, it can be annoying; at worst, it’s just dangerous.

9. If you’re renting a car, pick one with good stabilisation and automatic transmission to minimise carsickness.  If you have a large dog, the deeper the backseat, the more comfortable s/he will be lying down.  And don’t forget #2 above to avoid extra cleaning charges!

10. Eating on the road can be difficult for humans when health and safety laws forbid dogs from entering restaurants.   Pick a place where you can eat outside and tie your Shyhound to your chair – not the table, for obvious reasons!  If there is no outside space available, leave your Shyhound in the car and sit where you can keep a watchful eye.  Remember to crack open the car windows.  Most importantly, don’t forget that in summer months and in some states, leaving your dog unattended in a car, even for a few minutes, is against the law.  When in doubt, get the food to go, and eat in your car.

11. Last but not least, make sure your Shyhound is up to date on all vaccinations and tick/flea medications before leaving on a trip.  If s/he takes regular medication (this could include a monthly medication, like a heartworm pill) don’t forget to pack that too!

To read about our long journey, go to Cross-Country Road Trip. Happy travels!

Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments section below!

Leave a Comment

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alexandria Andrews January 8, 2016 at 8:56 am

I love your blog! So glad I found it! What advise would you give to someone who might be soon attempting a cross-country trip with 4 dogs?

Thanks in advance!



2 Deonn July 30, 2014 at 10:53 am

Just stumbled across this great site! My dog, Sprocket loves car rides! Which is a good thing because in 3 weeks we are moving from Michigan to California, taking Route 66 along the way. Thanks for the tips and cute stories from Banjo. They made me laugh 🙂


3 shyhound July 30, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Hi Deonn and Sprocket!

So glad you found us and enjoyed reading about our adventures! Hope your move goes smoothly — we’d love to see pictures if you’d like to share them 🙂

Lauren & Banjo


4 Sunny April 14, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Thank you for all the information! We are planning a very long trip (1700 miles) with our 8 week old puppy and I’d love to hear more about what you recommend with such a young pup…


5 shyhound April 15, 2013 at 8:13 am

You’re welcome, Sunny!

I think the only difference with such a tiny pup is to make sure he has had all his shots. Eight weeks is pretty young, though, so I wonder if he will have had all of them by then? I’d be careful about letting him walk around outside, you don’t want him to pick up parvovirus and other nasties.

That said, what a great way to start socializing him with people, the car, you!

Be mindful of the fact that his immune system is still developing so bring water from home so to not upset his digestive system. And you will have to stop more often for potty breaks–which is why the shots or limiting where he can roam is so important.

It goes without saying that you should check in with your vet. Or, if you are picking your pup up from a breeder/shelter to take him home, ask them for their advice too. I bet they have some great tips.

Thanks for stopping by! AROO!

Lauren and Banjo


6 Carla April 3, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Great tips.. I will be traveling several days this summer with my 3 dogs and I need all the tips I can get!


7 shyhound April 15, 2013 at 8:14 am

Wow, three! That’s ambitious! I’d love to hear more!


8 Annette @ getting inside my head May 5, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Thank you for writing this! We’re planning a road trip with a large hyper puppy and need some direction.


9 shyhound May 7, 2012 at 6:43 pm

You’re so welcome, Annette! Banjo and I would love to hear about your travels — feel free to share a link to your blog, if you have one. And if you learn a thing or two along the way, we’d love to know about that too.

Have fun — arooooo!



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