Canine vacation: Packing for your pooch

| Jasey Day

Many of us love to take our hounds with us on vacation – we want to enjoy their companionship and we hate leaving them behind! Here's what to bring for your pup!


Many of us love to take our hounds with us on vacation – we want to enjoy their companionship and we hate leaving them behind! In addition to having crate-trained dogs and to teaching our dogs to ride politely in the car, we also need to pack for success.

Bring the basics:

  • Dog food. Premeasure it in re-sealable sandwich bags for each meal. Save the empty bags to use as poop bags. Always bring a few extra meals in case you have to extend your trip for a day due to car problems or other issues. Also bring extra food in case your dog exercises more on the trip and needs to replace those burned calories!

  • Water. Bring a gallon of water to keep in the car and refill it with tap water if needed.

  • Medication. Bring extra doses in case the trip is longer than expected.

  • Poop bags.

  • Bowls for food and water.

  • Collar with identification.

  • Leash.

And consider these “secret weapons:”

New toys. Bring novel toys – such as stuffed, squeaky toys or nylabones - that your dog has not seen before or only gets to play with on vacations. This may help occupy his brain while you’re trying to relax at the vacation rental or have a conversation.

Dog towels. Bring more than you think you need! You may need the towels in the car or to wipe off paws when coming indoors. Have your dog eat his food fillable (Kong or Rhino Cone-like device – see suggestion #8 below) and chewies on top of a towel on his beds – it’s much easier to wash a towel than an entire dog bed.  Considering stocking up on beige (or brown – the color of mud!) towels when they go on sale at your local department stores to use as your dog towels.

Jackets. Are you going to a colder environment or traveling in winter? Pack your dogs’ winter jackets in case you encounter car trouble or the power or heat goes out.

Tasty treats. Your dog may need something better than kibble on walks or hikes in order to focus on you in a new, exciting environment.  

Backup planfor exercise if walks can’t be done.For example, see this blog post on cabin fever for more information on inflatable exercise discs (doggie pilates!). You may want to pack your inflatable disc.

Flexi leash, harness, and fetch toy(for dogs who like to retrieve). This will allow you to safely exercise your dog by playing ball if you are going somewhere that does not have a fenced-in yard.  

CET chewsor safe chewiebrand that your veterinarian recommends. Give your dog something productive to do with his chops!

Food fillables(FF), such as Kongs or Rhino Cones. You freeze your dog’s food in the FF and he has to lick it out slowly! You can pre-make the FF if your driving time is short; if driving time is longer and the food will spoil, bring canned dog food and load the devices with canned food and kibble when you reach the location. Also bring re-sealable plastic bags to store the FFs in the freezer.

Dog beds. Your dog may not settle down on a strange dog bed or without any bed. Don’t you sometimes like to bring your favorite pillow with you?

Large non-fitted sheets(“dog sheets”). Drape these over furniture, such as sofas and beds. Many rental homes, hotels, and your friends’ homes will not want your dog’s hair on the furniture, even if you do not allow the pet on the furniture.

Proof of vaccines. You can even store a photo on your smart phone. Hopefully if you have your vet records with you, you won’t need them!

First aid kit. Keep a stocked first aid kit in your car that contains items for your pooch, such as self-adhesive wrap, first aid antibiotic ointment, and over-the-counter allergy medications that are safe for dogs.

Crate. Crating your dog when you leave your dog “home alone” at a rental or friend’s home ensures that your dog will not get into anything or do any damage due to stress (e.g. chewing). If you do not bring a crate, consider bringing a baby-gate to restrict access.

Paper towelsor other supplies for car cleanup emergencies.

Use the above ideas for your new doggie packing list for canine trips. Have a great trip!

Photo of a woman holding her dog

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Jasey Day

Jasey Day holds the Certified Canine Fitness Trainer (CCFT) credential through the University of Tennessee. She is a member of the Bobbie Lyons K9FITteam - a team of compassionate canine fitness instructors who actively teach others and continually expand their own knowledge. Since 2004, Jasey has taught a variety of workshops and classes on the following: Puppy, Canine Good Citizen/Family Pet, Advanced Family Pet, Canine Fitness, Canine Swimming, Rally, and Agility. In addition, Jasey has earned over 60 titles in Dock Diving, Agility, Rally, CGC and Trick Dog. Jasey has worked full time for the American Kennel Club since 2007 and teaches at Care First Animal Hospital in Raleigh, NC. Jasey’s Labrador Retrievers spend their free time hiking, training, and snuggling with Jasey.


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