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We'll hopefully be bringing home our standard poodle puppy in mid-November! We'll be driving down from Northeast Ohio to Northern Virginia, so we're really eager to get tips from people who've done 6-7 hour drives with puppies before. Our biggest worry is getting him or her to potty safely along the way - we were thinking of bringing an exercise pen and lining it completely with puppy pads so the puppy never touches rest-stop soil.

Another friend of mine suggested picking up the puppy closer to ten weeks than eight as they'll have more bladder capacity by this age. They brought their spoo home at nine and a half weeks, and only stopped every two hours for potty breaks. Any thoughts on this? I keep seeing that eight weeks is considered optimal for pick-up.
 

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We had what without a puppy (actually 2 puppies) would be a one stop trip of about 5+ hours when we brought Peeves home with Lily who was then about 15 weeks old as a passenger. We stopped probably 4 times each way since we did the whole trip in one day and we stayed away from the designated pet areas, but instead stayed out near the edge of the parking area and had them stay on the pavement. There was no real wandering allowed for either pup, just pick them out of the car, put them down and wait in place for potty behaviors and then right back into the car. Peeves was just shy of 8 weeks old (moved a bit early because it was close to Christmas). Everyone was fine.
 

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I have done a 12 hour trip with a 10 week old. I did exactly what you're planning on with the x pen and pee pads. My biggest recommendation is to prepare for the worst. Extra towels for crate accidents, and paper towels and water for cleanup if the pup gets gross. Mine slept most of the way.
 

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I have done a 12 hour trip with a 10 week old. I did exactly what you're planning on with the x pen and pee pads. My biggest recommendation is to prepare for the worst. Extra towels for crate accidents, and paper towels and water for cleanup if the pup gets gross. Mine slept most of the way.
I second the suggestion to bring cleanup supplies. I brought only a single roll of paper towels, but I had a stack of absorbent cloth towels and some trash bags. (Galen puked on the way home, so we needed them!) Additional supplies might be some washable incontinence pads to protect your car upholstery; you can use them later on your couch. Pogo and Snarky rode home sleeping in my lap or on the car seat next to me while my husband drove. By the time I got Galen I owned a very large cat carrier for my tubby feline, so Galen rode home crated in the cat carrier.

I didn't let Snarky and Pogo out at rest areas at all. Instead, since it was a weekend, we pulled off the highway and found industrial parks far away from any residential areas. I figured the chances of someone walking a sick dog in an industrial park was pretty low, and it would therefore be reasonably safe to let the pups out to stretch their legs on the grass.
 

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That's a good point Catherine and Cowpony - since the puppy won't have all of its shots, stay away from pet areas at rest stops.
 

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We had a longer drive to get my spoo as well. It was in late winter and there was a few stretches of the drive that took longer due to traffic, snow, and accidents. We drove straight through on the way to pick her up with no stops (10 hours) but on the way back, it took close to 14 hours. I chose the scenic route to avoid busy highway rest areas.

We chose not to stop at rest stops but rather, parking lots of non-dog friendly hotels, parking lots of stores that didn’t have pet stores, or dead end roads in the middle of nowhere. I made sure to wipe her feet before getting back in the truck. We did have to stop to get her a harness, leash, food and water dishes because they were left on the back of the truck at the first stop but she was carried the whole time (including in the store) and then we went to a different parking lot to go potty.

She slept on my lap/chest, laid at my feet or played with the toys we brought with us (puppy nylabones, rope toy, kong). I brought paper towel and other cleaning supplies in case of pukes or accidents.
 

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We brought home our 9wk old miniature puppy Mochi on a two-part journey in the deepest cold of January 2015 from almost Canada (NH) to NYC. I think it was 4 or 5 hours on the first leg, and then an overnight stay at my sister's, followed by a 6 hour drive the next day. In good weather the full drive would have taken 6-7 hours but the winter was terrible and everything was ice and snow. Little 3lb Mochi never once peed when we stopped along the way, and she didn't have any accidents in the car. We stopped every hour I think. We had a slip leash on her and would just set her down on the pavement next to the car in a parking lot. It was soo cold and windy. She just kept trying to climb up my leg; wouldn't sniff or anything. What she did do is cry. Pretty much the whole way, every 5 minutes or so except the few times she napped on my husband's lap. She was so confused!😭
 

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Our drive was about 5 hours, part of which was through a winding mountain pass with limited stop options. We stopped once at a turnout when she seemed restless (no potty) and twice in shopping plaza parking lots (potty in the back corner both times, where I'd be amazed if other dogs ever ventured).

I did bring an absorbent pad for underneath her in the car, but only for a possible "oops!" moment, which never happened.

When we first met her on our breeder's lawn, she went alllllll the way to the furthest edge of the yard to pee. This told me she was well on her way to being potty trained. Asking her to potty in the car with us would likely have been stressful for her. But having clean-up supplies on hand is always a good idea, just in case. You may have to contend with vomit even if there are no potty accidents.

In addition to the absorbent pad, we had a roll of paper towels and a spray bottle filled with vinegar and water.
 

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I brought my Spoo puppy home driving from California, all the way to Michigan, over a three week period of time. We stopped along the way to work with good trainers and visit relatives. He was 13 weeks of age when I got him, and I would gladly do that again. I think the additional time with his mother helped with his training and added a bit of maturity. I stopped about every hour and by the time we got home he was basically potty trained. I totally agree about avoiding the normal potty spots in rest areas.
 

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We drove from Michigan back to California with two service dogs and two poodle pups. We avoided rest stops, choosing open areas by gas stations. The pups rode crated together; one threw up one time. We are not sure which one, ha-ha. We had lots of plastic bags, paper towels, and old cloth towels that we could just throw away. We never had to throw a towel away, as the pups never pottied in their crate. I bought a new van just for the trip. We only traveled during daylight hours. We had a blast! 815.jpg
 

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We drove from Michigan back to California with two service dogs and two poodle pups. We avoided rest stops, choosing open areas by gas stations. The pups rode crated together; one threw up one time. We are not sure which one, ha-ha. We had lots of plastic bags, paper towels, and old cloth towels that we could just throw away. We never had to throw a towel away, as the pups never pottied in their crate. I bought a new van just for the trip. We only traveled during daylight hours. We had a blast! View attachment 470382
I love seeing pics of your crew!
 
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