Whether you're just travelling across town or setting off for long distances across the country. Travelling with your dog is a great experience for both you and your pet. Not to make sure it is a smooth trip it is important to do a bit of pre planning to ensure your pet is as comfortable and calm as possible. Check out this list of quick tips that will make your trip as safe, enjoyable and trouble free as possible for both you and your dog.
Must haves when travelling with your dog
Before you set off on your trip it is important you have everything prepared to make the journey as stress free and comfortable as possible for both you and your dog.
- A well fitting collar and leash
- A name tag (with your cell phone number on it)
- Water and a portable water bowl
- Pet food and bowl
- Dog treats for rewarding good behaviour
- Toys (especially enrichment toys like Kongs are great)
- A car harness, crate or barrier to secure your pet
- A dog car seat cover or old sheet to protect your cars upholstery
- Poo bags for cleaning up after your pet
Get your dog used to the car
It is a good idea to get your dog used to travelling in the car before you head out on a long trip. An easy way to do this is to try some shorter trips around town and take note of how your dog acts. If your dog shows signs of car sickness or feeling ill, it may be just a matter of taking more short drives to get him used to the sensation of being in a car. Many dogs get over car sickness after a handful of rides or with age. But if it is an ongoing issue you can go see your vet about medications to help with their motion sickness.
Perhaps your dog doesn't get motion sickness but instead get nervous or excited in the car. If this is the case, it could be a matter of working on getting your dog used to the car, just like with motion sickness. Take short trips and reward the dog with treats during the drive
Use a suitable restraint
It's important to make your pet comfortable for your road trip. If you have an SUV with a pet barrier, bring along your pet's favourite bed or blanket from home to help them relax. If you don't have a barrier, bring your pet's crate and bedding so they are secure and comfortable along the way! Alternatively you can use a specially designed dog car harness which clips onto your cars seat belts. After all when travelling pets like boundaries and tend to do better when confined. So it is better for everyone's safety that they are safely restrained before you set off!
Keep your dog out of the front seat
As much as your dog may love riding shotgun - it is important to keep your dog out of the front seat of the car. Even if the passenger holds the dog on their lap while you drive. Riding in the front seat is a big no no! As even the smallest of accidents can set off your cars airbags. And just like small children your dog can be seriously injured or even killed by the force of the airbag deploying. So it is important no matter the distance to ensure your pet is safely confined to the backseat or boot.
Make sure your pet has their ID tag on
When setting off on a road trip with your dog make sure they have a collar on and easy to read name tags. So if, heaven forbid, your pet escapes or goes missing you have the best chance of having it returned. It is also a good idea to be extra prepared. In fact, if you are reading and planning a road trip with your pet, you might consider having your pet micro-chipped or tattooed, to make it that much easier to reunite you and your pet in case of an accident.
Never leave a dog alone in a parked car
When travelling with your dog be sure to never leave them unattended in your car. When parked a car becomes a literal hot box - especially in the summer months. When the outdoor temperature is 20 degrees the inside temperature of a car can soar above 40 degrees within 30 minutes. So it is important to not leave pets unattended. And when parked to always look for a cool and shady spot. Heat stroke is not the only concern when leaving dogs alone in parked cars - every year many dogs are stolen in cars or from parked cars. A good way to think of it is you wouldn't leave your young child alone in the car - so why would you leave your beloved dog?
Give them time to digest
When planning a car trip with your dog - try not to feed them right before you leave or when you're on the road. As a dog with a full tummy just like a human is at greater risk of feeling car sick! As a rule of thumb the best time to feed your pet before travel is around 3 to 4 hours before you leave the house. This gives them time to digest and process the food before you are on your way! But for longer trips you can always feed your dogs when you are on a rest stop.
Bring your own water
One of the vital things to remember when travelling with dogs is water. Dogs need regular access to water. This is vital on a longer road trip, but even if you’re just headed out to the store, it’s smart to bring along. As you never know what might happen. When travelling long distances if possible it is better to bring water from home. As water can vary from place to place and when travelling the change in water can cause your dog to have an upset stomach. It is also helpful to have a travel bowl or dog water bottle to make it easier to give your dog a drink on the go!
Give them a bath before you set off
Nobody likes to be stuck in a confined space for hours on end with a smelly dog! So for the comfort of your passengers it is best to give your dog a bath before you set off on your trip. Although if your dog gets damp or smelly along the way it is good to bring a refreshing coat spritzer to remove any doggy smell and freshen their coat. Doing this also helps to keep your car clean and odour free.
Stop for frequent exercise and toilet breaks
Our dogs just like us need breaks on long road trips! The general rule of thumb for travelling with dogs is to take a break every two hours. This is not only so they can go to the bathroom, but also so they can stretch their legs and have a sniff.
Protect your cars interior
When travelling with pets it is a great idea to invest in a dog hammock or seat cover to protect your upholstery from pet hair and claws. These also provide added comfort for your pet as well as giving you peace of mind. That if your pet is car sick or gets dirty on your rest stop that it will be easy to give your car a quick clean with you reach your destination.