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June 05, 2023 5 min read

Now that summer is underway, quite naturally our thoughts have turned towards the taking of trips. Much has been made in recent years of the ups and downs of air travel with pets, and our own experiences of rail and bus travel with our trusty sidekicks have been mixed to say the least. Anyone else ever thought of taking a dog on a Greyhound only to learn that Greyhounds are in fact a greyhound-free zone? The exception is of course service animals, and whilst no breed is privileged over another, we imagine graduates of the Purple Heart Greyhound Service Dogs program, which retrains retired racing greyhounds to support veterans with PTSD, are met with particular enthusiasm 😊. 

But we digress! By far the easiest trip to take with your pack is in your own car and accordingly such a trip - or trips! - are a huge part of our summer plans. As with everything in life, the key word here is “plans”. No matter how small your pup or how large your pack, there is no substitute for forward planning and no shortcut worth taking. So to help make sure you end up on the Happy Hound Highway rather than the Boulevard of Broken dog Dreams (shout out to my fellow Gen Xers!), we have a ton of tips; so many in fact, that this guide is a two parter! In this first installment, we’ll cover what you need for the car and the trail, and next time we’ll do all you need for everything else, including eating, drinking, and sleeping. The open road awaits… 

Okay, first up, let’s get the car READY. We have quite a few things to recommend here and I think you’ll see why. Most important of all is safety, but we also recognize that a clean car is a much nicer form of transport than a muddy / wet / paw printed car, and accordingly we also have some stuff to help keep your wheels shiny! 

So, safety first, and we are super impressed with Kurgo’s impact harness. A brand new design that uses a single piece of high tensile tubular webbing with reinforced bar tacking, it is safe, comfy, easy to install and remove, and washable. Tested on a 130 lb canine crash test dummy at Calspan’s state of the art testing facility, using the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard for child restraint systems, this harness is the real deal and comes in 3 sizes. TL; DR: don't leave home without one! A second smart idea for comfort and safety is the Kurgo Backseat Dog Bridge; on some trips, especially long ones, a bit of extra space is the difference between a mellow mutt and a chorus of doggy disapproval. Allow us to explain: this ingenious creation bridges the gap from your rear to front seats, which not only means a more luxurious space - think of it as an upgrade from coach to first! - but also prevents pups from falling into the gap. Lest you should worry about a front-seat rush, there is a fold down center barrier that acts as a wall in case your dog wants to ride shotgun or you are forced to stop short. Amazing! 

Now we promised a clear car as well as a safe car, and that means seat covers! At the risk of over-Stanning, Kurgo is one again King of the Road! Their Co-Pilot Bucket Seat Covers will keep mud, crumbs, hair, and all manner of muck away from the seat so you can relax and enjoy the ride. Stain resistant and waterproof, they are super easy to stretch on and off, and are machine washable to boot. We think they pair especially well with these door guards, which prevent damage from dirty, furry paws and are easy to install, waterproof, and adjustable to fit small and large vehicles. Attached with simple tabs that slide between your window and door panel, they even have storage pockets for all the car trip must-haves enumerated in this article! 

The goal of a road trip is not of course to spend every waking moment in the car, so now we have the “road” bit done, let’s move to the trails. Woof! Everyone knows a backpack is a hiker’s second best friend, and we have the finest selection for miles around! Depending on your plans, may we recommend one of these three fantastic K9 Sports Sacks? Each is designed to carry your kit as well as your dog, and they really get the job done…

The Trainer is an affordable, easy to use, entry-level backpack dog carrier, and is ideal for smaller breeds, dogs that are still growing, training, and learning to socialize. It is designed for use during short, non-strenuous activities like brief walks, hikes, bicycle rides, public transportation, and fits most comfortably on dog owners with a small to medium build. Bigger but still more than manageable, the Air 2 is K9’s mid-level backpack which fits smaller-to-medium-sized dogs and is recommended for intermediate grade walks, hikes, public transportation, and bike rides. Finally, the all-conquering Air Plus 2 is K9’s most complete carrier for dogs up to 40 lbs and dog owners of all sizes! As well as a carrier, it is a fully functioning backpack, great for bringing gear, treats, and other necessities on your adventures; it really will take you as far as you want to go. What’s more, it acts as a support for your dog’s back, pulling your pup in to lie snugly against your own spine, and its thicker shoulder straps and padded panel allow for more weight and strenuous activities. Grab this and you are good to go, go, GO. 

Should your companion wish to share the load, we also have a perfect, er, pack pack. The Baxter dog pack is great for all kinds of adventures and built to withstand rugged outdoor conditions. It has 8 adjustment points to get the proper fit for your dog and ergonomic padded spine support that contours to her back for a comfortable fit, as well as providing weight distribution for the two saddlebags. 

Last stop (for now!) is leashes and harnesses. Come to think of it, that would have made more sense as a first stop, but you don’t come here for logic but for inspiration, so here it is! If you are looking for a hiking harness, it’s hard to beat the Kurgo Journey Air Dog; it’s breathable, has a deep V-neck that keeps the shoulders free and shows off that luxuriant chest hair! Plus, it has a wide, padded chest plate that helps cut down on strain to the neck, plus, plus, it has rust-free all-aluminum hardware and comes in at a featherweight 8 oz., so your dog can forget the harness and focus on more important things, like smelling stuff, running, chasing things, and smelling stuff. Yes! It also comes in 2 colors and 5 sizes so really, what are you waiting for? Naturally, we have a huge selection of leashes, so we encourage you to take a browse, but for hiking, there are a couple we particularly Stan: from our friends at Kurgo, the reflective Quantum Leash is a super versatile dog lead that converts into 6 different styles whose reflective trim allows your dog to be seen in low light; and from Yellow Dog, the EZ Grip Leash which has a special comfort handle that is flexible for ease of use all the time, but especially on hikes or long walks. Hurrah!

And that, folks, marks the end of this particular trail. But fear not, we’ll be back with part two with ideas for water bottles and feeders, all you need for napping and camping, incidentals such as first aid, paw cleaner, and natty vacation wear that will take your dog from day into night! 

 Until next time, friends! 🐕🏕️🚗🐾🐩

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