Almost all dogs are happier, easier to take care of and safer if they’re confined to a crate. Plastic airline crates work as well as anything—they’re relatively inexpensive, mostly chew-proof and easy to clean. That last point is important because if you have a dog that’s prone to carsickness, a crate that’s easy to clean will make an unpleasant job a bit less onerous.
You should also bring along a clean-up bucket. Buy a small plastic pail and fill it with spray cleaning solution, a roll of paper towels and a sponge. Keep it someplace that’s quick and easy to get to.
Is your dog a nervous traveler? Consider getting a prescription for tranquilizers from your vet, which will allow your dog to sleep and also preserve your sanity.
On the day of your trip, cut your dog’s food intake by half. This will help prevent an upset stomach. Bring plenty of water with you and offer it to him when you stop to air him out, which you should do within an hour of leaving and then every four to six hours afterward. Cut that time in half for puppies under eight months of age.
Always carry a leash, and always leash your dog when you air him out at rest stops. Never turn him loose directly from the back of your car or truck. Dogs that have been cooped up for hours tend to bolt, and the last thing you want your dog to do is bolt into traffic.
In hot weather, a small, portable fan that attaches to the front of the crate does wonders for keeping your dog cool. They’re widely available at gun dog supply outfitters. Even so, you should never leave a dog in a crate in the back of a hot truck or car. Open the windows wide, or, better still, leash him outside while you take care of business.
Once you’re arrived at your destination safe, sound and happy, there’s one more order of business to attend to: Write down the name, address and phone number of one or two local veterinarians. In case of emergency, knowing who to call and where to go can save valuable time.