Try these tips for a safer, more enjoyable trip as you go over the river and through the woods.

Crate or harness your dog while driving. It’s for his safety and yours. In case of an accident, a dog can become a missile in the vehicle. Run the seatbelt through the handle of the crate or through the loop on a harness meant for restraining him. (Practice ahead of time if you have a long trip ahead of you.)

Bring along plenty of toys–both new ones and old favorites–to keep your dog occupied, both en route and when you arrive. Although new surroundings may distract him, he’ll still want something to do when everything quiets down. A dog sitting under the table, chewing a bone or squeaky toy, is a lot more content than one roaming, around looking for something to do.

Take potty breaks when he normally would at home and offer a drink of water when you stop. That should reduce his stress on the trip. Don’t forget pick-up bags so you can properly dispose of his waste. Many municipalities levy stiff fines for leaving poop and it’s just good citizenship to clean up the mess.

Try to keep your dog’s normal schedule after you arrive. Sure, you’re excited to see friends and family, but all the excitement can stress your dog. Make sure he gets his exercise and feeding time like normal. A dog crate can offer a quiet “den” for his naps if he needs to escape the hubbub. Also, if you need to leave your dog alone in your room, a crate can ensure that he doesn’t go on a stress-fueled chewing bender.

If he has a special blanket or bed, bring it if you can.

Out of courtesy towards your host, bring pet-formulated carpet cleaner in case of an accident. Your perfect pooch may slip up and make a mess, but your best defense prompt cleaning. That will leave your dog sitting pretty.
Don’t give your dog turkey bones to chew. They easily splinter and can damage his throat. Also, be careful about giving him too many rich table scraps. Remember that caution about carpet cleaner? Some dogs have very sensitive stomachs and can’t handle too many treats.

After Thanksgiving dinner, why not work off a few of those extra calories with a long walk with your pal?

by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant