Probably the biggest concern about traveling with pets is pet safety. We have to keep our little buddies fed and hydrated, comfortable and relaxed, and from tumbling around like balls in a lottery machine.
Once all that’s squared away, it’s time to think about letting them stretch their legs and answer the call of nature.
Planning Breaks for Dogs
Some of you might not have to think about letting your pooch outside. For example, if you’re driving for only an hour or two, he might not need potty breaks or chance to run around and stretch his legs.
For longer trips, though, you’ll need to plan some leisurely walks and bathroom break while driving.
Plan your breaks accordingly. If you’re familiar with the route, this won’t be difficult; you’ll probably already know where you can stop. When traveling with pets in unfamiliar areas, though, take some time to map out some potential stops. Use your navigation system to check for rest areas, and if possible look for pet-friendly areas. (HINT: Make sure your navigation system is hands-free, especially if you’re using your cell phone; otherwise, you could face tickets, fines, and other penalties.) No navigation system? Check a mapping service, such as Google Maps.
Attach your pet’s leash first. Some dogs—especially those who don’t like car rides or have a lot of extra energy—love jetting out as soon as you open the door. Keep your pet’s collar or harness on during the ride; this will make it easier to attach your pet’s leash before you open any doors. If you’re dog is restrained with a safety belt harness, make sure the leash is securely attached before releasing the harness from the seat belt.
Consider your pet’s personality. Remember, you’re probably not the only person traveling with pets. Some dogs don’t get along with others; some are just a little too friendly or get extremely excited or nervous in crowded places. Be aware of how your pet might react to a certain environment and decide accordingly. On that note…
Be considerate of others. Not everyone loves animals, and sometimes even those folks who do love pets aren’t interested in being attacked with kisses from yours. Keep a firm grip on your dog’s leash and don’t let him get too close to other people without their invitation.
Scoop the poop! Bathroom breaks mean your pet is going to use the bathroom. Remember all those provisions you packed when preparing for the trip? Time to put those doggy waste bags to use.
Cats and Other Small or Caged Animals
Potty breaks when you’re traveling with pets in cages and crates, like cats and other small animals, is a bit different.
- Only consider a cat harness and leash if your cat has had leash training. Even then, consider the likelihood that cats on leashes are still prone to freaking out in loud, active environments (especially environments with dogs).
- Consider keeping a car litter box. Some companies make litter boxes for cars specifically. At the least, look into a litter box cover for your own benefit (and if you’re also traveling with a dog).
- If you aren’t comfortable letting your cat outside the vehicle, remember that stopping for breaks is still beneficial. You can let your kitty roam around the car for a bit, get a bite to eat, and spend some snuggling time with you. Traveling with pets who are too small to let out (think hamsters, guinea pigs, or birds)? Stopping and paying some attention to them is just as beneficial!
How do you handle potty breaks and other stops along the way? We’d love your advice! Share some tips with us in the comments below.