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Green Road Trip Travel Tips for Your Dog

Although all dogs don't love riding in the car, most will be good sports about it with some TLC and training. Some people medicate pets with sedatives for long journeys. If you travel a lot this can become problematic. Over time your pet might develop a dependency on medication for travel or suffer from side effects. There are much better ways to get the pup excited (and then calm) about riding in the car.

Ease Anxiety Naturally

Well-known dog whisperer Cesar Millan says that dog owners have the power to calm their dogs with their voices, attitudes and body language. If you are calm and pleasant, your dog will be too. If your dog is prone to anxiety and you plan to take a long trip, natural products that use herbs like ginger and lavender ease tension. They work the same way a warm, herbal-infused cup of tea eases human stress. One product, Travel Calm, is a spray mist that sells for about $12 at pet health food stores, and can reduce restlessness and nausea.

Strap In

The AAA notes that unrestrained pets cause more than 30,000 accidents annually. Although it may be fun to let a dog sit freely in a car, cages and strap-in harnesses are the safest options for both of you. Millan says that although you might feel bad about crating your dog, don't project your negative feelings onto her. Before you crate her, make sure she gets a lot of exercise. You want her to release as much energy as she can, so the dog will be eager to rest. Let the dog go in on his own, because a forced shove may convey negative attitudes.

Petmate's Ultra Vari-Kennel Plastic Dog Crate is a hard, plastic carrier made partially with recycled materials that is great for a car ride. Ecopets.com sells it for $60. Bark-n-Bag makes an organic denim carrier (Earthdoggy.com, $68), and Snoozer makes a "luxury" carrier of recycled burlap (Ecopets, $70). If you're thinking about strapping your dog in with a harness, the Ruff Rider Roadie Canine Vehicle Safety Restraint attaches to a vehicle's seatbelt, keeping your dog safe without the restrictions of the crate.

It's hard to teach any dog new tricks. Check out this tutorial on jeanknowscars.com about how to get your dog into a harness.

On the Road

Once Fido is strapped in, the next challenge is to maintain a comfortable, happy ride. Don't feed your dog right before the car or while you're moving, because that can cause motion sickness. Limit snacks to pit-stops and make them high protein. Blue Buffalo makes great natural, grain-free, protein-rich dog treats. Walk the dog before you leave and during car breaks to release pent-up energy. Bring along items for the car that will make your dog feel comfortable like a favorite toy or dog bed.

Be a conscientious dog owner on the road. Throw earth-friendly bags in your tote, and clean up after your dog.

At Your Destination

When you arrive at your location, take your dog for a walk. Give her a chance to explore and get used to the environment outside, as she might bark or get excited and behave in a way that's inappropriate for a hotel lobby. Stay calm and assertive, and this will put the dog at ease. Ask the concierge about local dog parks, hiking spots or other dog-friendly attractions (Best Westerns are always pet friendly). Petco makes a great waterproof placemat made of recycled materials and contains messes the dog makes while eating. There is also a stuff-your-own dog bed, where you use dirty laundry to stuff the innards of a dog bed. No need for plastic laundry bags! If you're heading to the beach, the Lurker (Bambeco.com, $15) is a toy that can be used in land and water (it floats) and is made with recycled polyester shells and packed with foam scraps from the factory.

Photo by flickr.com/photos/debgray