After decades of living with loving and traveling with French Bulldogs I've learned a thing or two. Some of those things were learned the hard way. Never EVER think there will be a gas station every 15-20 miles in Montana. I literally rolled into a gas station at midnight in Montana as the YOU ARE OUT OF GAS noise binged. Money was giving me some kinda stink-eye.
The Dude aka CH. Jackpot! The Dude Abides StandBayou has been one of my easiest traveling companions. Never barked, was reasonable with his potty break requests and never complained about my choice of snacks. Gio, the English Toy Spaniel barks incessantly, will poop on the front floorboard if I don't stop when he glances at the window (his signal) and is a picky eater on the road.
Traveling with a French Bulldog, Pug, or any flatter faced breed has its own set up additional issues, so there are a few flat-faced dog travel tips and then tips that refer to all dogs. Enjoy!
You love your French Bulldog (Pug, Boxer, Bulldog, Japanese Chin - fill in with flat faced breed of choice) and LOVE having them with you. Most of the time nothing is more fun than a road trip with your best friend, but there are circumstances when it may be better to travel solo.
If it is HOT HOT HOT out and you do not absolutely have to take your Brachycephalic dog for a car ride, leave them at home. It's tempting to think you'll be right out....BUT.
I cannot believe we still have to talk about NOT leaving dogs and kids in cars, but we do. Actually, I have to pry my husband's dog out of the car on hot days to keep Steve from taking Pagel with him! Steve is convinced he'll be in and out and that he has a good a/c in his car. Arggghhh.
Take an ice chest and a bag of ice with you when you are on any trip longer than an hour. The afore-mentioned fab a/c could possibly quit on you and that could be disastrous if traveling with flat-faced dogs. My a/c went out once when I was living in Texas and on a bit of a trip. I ran in a store, cut in line and threw money at the clerk for bags of ice and dumped them on the Frenchies in their crates. My heart pounds as I remember how terrified I was.
Teach your dogs to lie on an ice pack if you live in a hot climate. They can learn to utilize the coolness of the ice pack on their tummies, which helps keep them chill and content.
Of course, you can purchase small fans to attach to their crates, cooling pads for them to lie on and even cooling collars or cool coats to wear. All are GREAT items to have on hand (paw) if traveling with your dog in hotter climates.
Make sure your dog is used to traveling before a long trip. A few quick trips around town will accustom your best buddy to being in the car. Have Ginger Snap cookies on hand, not just for road trip snacks (though I love those cookies), but the ginger can calm a slightly upset tummy.
Also, ensure your dog has a clean ill of health and is up to date on any required vaccinations OR has the appropriate titers (for those of us who are looking askance at over-vaccination issues). Bring copies of any paperwork along, just in case you need proof of rabies vaccination (yikes).
Even if your dog is usually “buck nekkid” have him or her wear a collar with identification. Snag additional identification with the destination written out (there are nifty little cylinders you can buy and slip a piece of paper in with temporary contact info).
While on the subject of collars and such…please make sure you keep your buddy on a leash while you are out of your area. It only takes a blink of a Pug eye for your best friend to get lost. They can quickly become disoriented and then a fun trip becomes a nightmare. Makes me feel all queasy thinking about it.
Take cool water from home, especially if your dog has a sensitive tummy, as changes in water could give a little tourista (oh, no!).
Also, bring plenty of food from home so they will not have nay digestive upsets along the way. Dogs crave routine and their same food, in their same bowl, at about the same time, is best, if at all possible.
Quote of the Day: Nothing ruins a fun trip faster than explosive diarrhea. Now that you have that visual, back to the list.
If you are the only human on the trip there will be times when you HAVE to leave your dog alone in the car. In hotter climates, this can be terrifying and we do not have perfect answers, just what has worked for us.
Tip: Have two sets of keys to the car, park in shade, leave the car locked and the a/c running and dash in and out as quickly as you can. Keep in mind that this is literally a “pit stop” answer, as a/c systems can fail and we do not want that to happen to YOU. I have even asked kindly looking strangers at gas stations to keep an eye on my dog in the car while I dash in, most people will do that for a moment. If you must be absent for much more than that…leave your flat-faced dog at home!
When I have traveled on long road trips with my French Bulldogs, in moderate weather, I would run in and take MY pit stop and run right back out. Then I would park under a tree (if possible) and let the dogs out for a break. When traveling with one dog I use leash and walk them for potty breaks. With more than one, I would use an exercise pen (portable mini-fence), which gives them room to romp and go potty. NEVER leave an ex-pen unattended, no matter how tempting it may be. Just don’t. (DUH).
We've all seen those commercials with the grinning dog hanging his head out of the car window. Now being all kill joy here, but don't let your dog do that! Bugs, dust, dirt and such in their eyes is another sure-fire trip spoiler (though not so much as that explosive diarrhea).
Breeds like Bostons, Pugs, Pekingese and French Bulldogs have eyes that protrude a bit more than many other breeds. This cute (to me) feature makes it easier for them to get debris in their eyes – ouch! If you do roll the windows down, make sure it is never enough for one of these bold buddies to leap out! I have had a crazy Frenchie leap out of a parked car window and I needed cardiac resuscitation. Thankfully, I was parked in my own driveway and the Frenchie landed in a pile of leaves and was fine.
I gotta say this, your dog should be in a crate, a seat belt harness or otherwise contained while driving. They can cause accidents when trying to give kisses, roll the window down or by just being a dog…so, do not let them have free rein in the car. We have all seen those Geico commercials and I know I felt a twinge of recognition as I have been guilty of that sin.
Last, I do not recommend you tranquilize your dog, as reactions can occur and their breathing may be compromised, especially our flat faced friends. WARNING…SALES PLUG! Use our RELAX Dog Aromatherapy to take the edge off travel stress. That way…no drugs are involved and they will just relax…ahhhh. Yes, blatant attempt to sell you something, but it works.
May you and your best friend have a Blissful Road Trip!