Shih Tzu Guide to Road Trips: Tips for Traveling With Your Dogs


Flying is nice, but nothing beats the freedom and adventure of hitting the open road.

If you are like us, you love taking long road trips and traveling with your dogs.

#traveling with dogs  Shih Tzu sitting on center consoleGetting ready for a road trip with Rocky

We take them with us whenever possible, so it's fortunate our boys love going for rides and exploring new areas right along with us. 

If you have never traveled with a dog before, then the idea may sound stressful.  But, we’re here to put your anxiety to rest with some tips on how to go traveling with dogs on the road.

Think about your dog's personality before traveling

Before putting together a travel plan, consider each dog’s personality.

My boys are pretty easy going, give them lap or a car seat, an open window, and they are good to go.

However, their friends Shivers, Leicester and Bobo each have unique personalities! 

All three of them are initially excited about getting in the car, but their separate personalities start to come out after a few minutes on the road.

Large black dog standing in open doorway looking outShivers

Shivers, remains excited and restless.  She is most happy if she has room to bounce around the car from window to window. 

At home, Shivers is the one who sees every squirrel with a target on their backs. 

Small terrier dogLeicester

Her brother, Leicester, is content if the window is cracked enough for him to explore the world with his nose.

Leicester is the adventurer.  He’s a tiny Jack Russell who isn’t afraid of the vacuum cleaner but thinks he must defeat it in battle. 

dog walking on leash with yellow bandanaBobo

The young brother, Bobo… well, Bobo just wants to sit.  This Australian Shepherd and Corgi mix is the most relaxed of the three at home and this remains true in the car.

Knowing each dog’s personality is crucial for travel.  For longer trips, Shivers parents have to consider medicating her to help her cope with her unstoppable anxiety and excitement.

Note: If your dog is excitable, do not prescribe your own medicine!

Visit your dog’s veterinarian for medication suggestions.  Your vet can determine a safe recommendation for medication based on the size and weight of your dog.  

Now that you’ve thought about how your dog will handle the trip, you should consider the following tips. 

Find pet-friendly hotels

If your trip is going to take a couple of days, then you will need to pull over eventually to sleep.  Unless you are driving an RV, you probably can’t sleep in your car with your dog and/or family.

One option to consider is tent camping.  If the weather is nice and you’re physically able to enjoy sleeping outdoors, you might want to stop at a campsite.

Campsites are typically pet-friendly, and your dog will love the outdoors!

However, if camping is not an option then you need to map out pet-friendly hotels on your route.  Different websites exist that can help you find hotels along your route where your furry friends are welcome.

When we travelled across the country a couple years ago, was very helpful in finding hotels that allowed pets.

Make frequent “pet stops”

You know how stiff your joints and muscles can get after sitting in a car for a long time.  The same is true for your pet.  As part of traveling with your dog, you should schedule routine stops so he or she can stretch, get a drink, and go potty.

Your dog will feel better and be grateful to you for keeping their well-being in mind. They will behave better and make your life easier if you give them enough time to do their business before getting back in the car.

Check out different pet car travel products

For your own peace of mind and for the comfort of your dog, you should consider using some of the following pet car travel products during your road trip:

  • Pet Safety Belts. Some manufacturers produce seat belts designed especially for pets.  Equipping your car with a pet safety belt can help keep your pet safe in event of an accident.  It also helps keep them from distracting you while driving.
  • Car seat protectors. One drawback of traveling with dogs is the potential mess they can make. Your dog might shed or drool all over the upholstery in your vehicle. Investing in a car seat protector helps keep your car clean and can be more comfortable for your dog!
  • Car door protector. As with the car seat protector, these can help preserve the integrity of your vehicle’s interior. The investment in a product like this is well worth it when you consider the potential price for repairing a scratched up door.
  • Pet duffles and carts. We’ve talked about pet travel bags here before at Everything Shih Tzu.  A pet duffle or pet cart is especially great for small dogs, like the Shih Tzu. 

    Besides being a convenient way to transport your dog outside of the car, your dog may be more comfortable on the road trip inside of the carrier. Consider your dog’s personality and whether they would like traveling in a carrier.
  • Pet zipline. You can connect your dog to this track installed across the ceiling of your car to give them some freedom to move while keeping them out of your way when you’re driving.  This is perfect for an excited dog like Shivers!  
  • Pet travel bag.  Humans use backpacks and suitcases with separate compartments for specific belongings.  Your dog could use one of these bags too!  Use a pet travel bag to conveniently store all of your best friend’s essentials, like bowls, food, medications etc.
  • Cleaning equipment.  Nothing special, here.  Accidents happen, so it’s wise to have some cleaning supplies on board if you have to wipe up a mess.

With products like these, you should now be able to drive with more ease knowing that your dog is safe and you won’t be distracted!

Final tips for traveling with dogs

Before you hit the road, keep these final tips about traveling with your dog in mind.

  • Keep your vehicle ventilated. Your dog may overheat more easily than you, especially if he or she has a thick coat. Take care of your dog by keeping the temperature at a nice level!
  • Do not put your dog in the truck bed or let them hang out the window. Leaving dogs exposed like this can make them vulnerable to harm by debris and other external factors.
  • Make sure your dog has up-to-date tags. In the scary event that you cannot find your dog while traveling, you will be thankful to know they have up-to-date tags. Their tags will help someone identify your dog and get him or her back to you safe and quick.   
    Some people take this further and microchip their dogs.  If you are in an unfamiliar area, being able to track your dog with a microchip might be extremely helpful.

There you have it, folks!  Now, you should be ready to hit the road with your best friend.  Taking care of them by following all of this advice can make your trip a rewarding experience for you and your dog!

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