Silas has a lot of miles under his belt. My family lives about 700 miles away, and he’s made the trip several time. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that getting puppy Silas used to the car is our one unequivocal socialization success. He’s a little nervous for the first few miles, but then he settles in like he’s just reclining on the sofa.
In order to keep him, I had to drive him the 700 miles back here from my parents’ house, where he was abandoned. He spent the trip alternating between his crate, which fit in the front passenger seat, and my lap.
He was a champ. We stopped at every rest area and a good score of gas stations, and he didn’t have a single accident. This was before I knew that a highway rest area wasn’t a good place for an unvaccinated puppy, but he was fine. Five weeks old. Two and a half pounds. That collar was so big that at one of the rest areas he put his front leg through it.
The intervening trips were a little rockier, most notably because Silas does not like to use the bathroom in strange places. On his first trip back, at about five months old, he saved it all up for Mom’s kitchen floor. Fifteen hours. We’re possibly the only family ever who was seriously relieved when their male dog started to territory mark. (I asked the vet “Will he still like to pee if I neuter him?” and she thought I was crazy.)
This last trip back was the first time I’ve had to do it alone since the original trip. It took a little more preparation this time. Silas barks at people in drive-through windows, and we’re still working on his reactions to people walking near the car. He’s very improved, but I know it still stresses him. So, food and drinks in a cooler in the front floorboard. We made two kinds of stops–rest areas and gas stations. At the gas station I payed at the pump and did nothing except buy gas. At rest areas we parked at the far end. We got out together and ran around for five or ten minutes, then Silas went back in the car while I went inside.
That’s our low-sress way to get a dog 700 miles in twelve hours. Low-stress for the dog, anyway. I’m not wild about doing it again next week, although my husband will be along then.
What’s the longest road trip you’ve done with your dog?