Make traveling enjoyable for canine copilots.

By Southern Living Editors
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Ready to hit the road with your dog? Traveling with your furry friend can make hours in the car fly by, but don't set out for your trip unprepared. To ensure it's an enjoyable experience for both you and your dog, plan out a schedule of pit stops and pack your pet's essentials. Be prepared to take frequent breaks, and pay attention to how your pet is feeling along with way. Read on for our top road trip tips for dogs.

Scout Out Dog-Friendly Pit Stops

Check helpful sites like bringfido.com and gopetfriendly.com to find spots like ParkGrounds, right off I-20 in Atlanta, which is half coffee shop and half dog park. The Trails at Fontanel, off I-24 just outside of Nashville, are another recommended stop for fresh air and stretching legs. Plan bathroom, feeding, and exercise breaks around your pet's normal schedule. Pay attention to how your pet is feeling during the trip; if he seems antsy, then it might be time to pull over.

Road Trip with Dogs
Make traveling enjoyable for canine copilots.
| Credit: Johner Images/Getty Images

Cruise at a Lower Speed

Dogs' sense of smell is nearly 40 times more powerful than humans, so it's no wonder they love to hang their head out the window—they are taking in a lot of new scents! But flying debris poses a major risk to dogs' ears and eyes. If you can't bear to roll them up, Dr. Mary Burch of the American Kennel Club (AKC) Family Dog program suggests restricting window time to 25 mph or below drives through the neighborhood.

Secure Them in the Back Seat

For their own safety, dogs need to ride in the rear of the car and be buckled with a pet seat belt or crated. This won't make the ride any less fun. Fluff their assigned seat with a familiar blanket, and pack their favorite toys for a comfortable ride.

Grab the Right Gear

Don't hit the road without a few travel essentials.

  • This lightweight crate will help your pet feel safe while riding in the car. When you arrive at your destination, it folds into a compact carrying case for easy storage. BUY IT: EliteField 3-Door Collapsible Soft-Sided Dog Crate, from $34; chewy.com
  • If your pet prefers to stretch out, throw this quilted, water-resistant cover over the backseat to keep it clean of dirt and dog hair. It's made with a viewing window so your pet can peek into the front and say hello. BUY IT: Grip-Tight Windowed Hammock Seat Protector, from $169; orvis.com
  • Food, water, and a bowl can all fit snuggly into this convenient carryall. BUY IT: The Odd Dog Co. Dog Bowl and Dog Food Carrier Travel Set, $36; etsy.com