6 Tips for Planning Dog-Friendly Road Trip Pit Stops


Road trips with your dog require extra effort to ensure their safety and comfort. These tips can help you plan for dog-friendly pit stops on the journey ahead.

Hitting the road is all about preparation, especially when your bird dog is in tow. Traveling with your canine athlete requires extra effort on your part to ensure his or her safety and comfort, whether it’s packing the gear and essentials needed for a hunting trip — such as food, water, tie-out cables/stakes, first-aid kit and veterinarian records, just to name a few — to doing your homework and plotting adequate travel breaks along your route. 

Regardless where your next road trip takes you, these tips can help you plan for those tried-and-true dog-friendly pit stops on the journey ahead.

According to Schedule

Dogs are creatures of habit that thrive on a consistent routine, so it’s best to determine travel breaks before hitting the road. Plan ahead for frequent stops around your bird dog’s regular feeding, watering and airing schedule if it’s feasible. Handy websites such as GoPetFriendly.com and BringFido.com offer tools to help you map out dog-friendly hotels, restaurants, parks and services along your route and near your destination. If your dog’s travel schedule will differ from his or her day-to-day, practice that routine prior to leaving home.

Off the Beaten Path

Interstate rest areas, fast food drive-thrus and gas stations are among the obvious pit stops for humans, but likely not the safest choice for your bird dog. Heavy traffic, garbage, fuel spills and other motor vehicle fluid leaks pose a dangerous threat to your dog. Instead, seek out nearby commuter parking lots, text stops or parks that have grassy space to give your dog ample room to stretch his or her legs. Don’t forget to pack waste bags and always clean up after your dog.

A "Chain" Would Do You Good

Dog-friendly chain stores, such as pet, agriculture, outdoor and home improvement retailers, may offer options to air your dog in a reserved area or to bring him or her inside the store. Be aware, though, that local ordinances may supersede some stores’ policies, with the exception of service animals. Call ahead to an individual store and location to verify before stopping in with your bird dog.

There’s an App for That

Sure, you’ve done your homework and mapped out every stop to a T, but don’t forget Murphy’s law. Should your dog need a break before the next planned stop or an urgent situation arise, look to your smartphone. Useful apps include BringFido to help you seek out dog-friendly pit stops, VetFinder24 to readily locate emergency veterinary services, CamScanner to store and recall your dog’s important veterinary records, and Pet First Aid to provide first-aid instruction in a pinch.

Dog Tired

Contrary to popular belief, travel isn’t restful for a dog. Travel can zap his or her energy both physically and mentally. After a long day on the road, a good night’s sleep is in order. If your dog will sleep in a dog box in your truck, park in an area free of distractions to minimize stress and maximize rest. Or if your hunting partner will sleep alongside you, check ahead of time to learn which hotel chains, Airbnb listings or campgrounds are dog-friendly.

Don’t Forget to Pack These Travel Essentials for Your Bird Dog

*An ample supply of quality performance dog food, such as Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 Formula, and dog bowls

*Several gallons of water or bottled water to avoid upsetting your dog’s GI system due to a change in water source

*Any veterinarian-recommended probiotic supplements, such as Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets FortiFlora or Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements Calming Care

*A well-stocked first-aid kit with supplies such as absorbent gauze pads, elastic bandages, thermometer, tape, tweezers, antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, antihistamine, saline solution and any veterinarian-prescribed or recommended medications

*Your dog’s vaccination records

*A list of names and contact information for veterinarians who can treat hardworking bird dogs and emergency veterinary clinics along your planned route and near your final destination

*Tie-out cables and stakes for as many dogs as you’re traveling with

*A crate with lock and soft, comfortable bedding 
*Collar, leash and tags
*Waste bags