We are a nation of dog lovers, and we build our lives around our adorable pooches. It is therefore not a surprise that more than half of pet owners are planning on travelling with their animals. We want to enjoy our trips and we want our dogs to come with us but travelling with them is not always straight forwards.
Here, we have put together some useful tips and tricks to make travelling with your canine friend as easy and safe as possible.
Keep them restrained
We all want our dogs to roam free, but the car is not the place to let them do this. They can create a massive distraction if they become excited or scared, which can lead to accidents. If an accident should occur, an airbag can kill your dog, so you need to ensure that they are in the back seat, preferably in a carrier that can be strapped to the seat. This will need to provide them with enough room to stand, lie down and turn around.
Alternatively, they can be strapped to the seat using a pet seatbelt, but you will need to protect your seats from hair and claws with a properly designed pet car mat. This will stay securely in place, providing them with plenty of cushioning and comfort whilst also protecting the interior of your vehicle.
Get them used to it
If you are planning a long journey, it can be a lot for your dog to cope with. Start to get them used to the idea with a few shorter trips first so that they can be accustomed to the car. They will need time to get used to the way in which they are restrained, the fact that they cannot have your attention and the sensation of movement.
Making the car a comfortable space for your dogs will ensure they enjoy car rides and are calm whether you’re travelling for short or long periods of time. Spoiling your furry friend with a comfortable dog hammock or pet bed will allow for your dog to rest whilst you travel.
It might be tempting to offer your dog food whilst on the move to prevent you from having to stop but this can be dangerous or lead to sickness. Instead, try to feed them a light meal three or four hours before you set off and factor stops into your journey to allow them to stretch their legs, relieve themselves and to feed them when they next need it.
You should make sure that you keep them properly hydrated during the journey, giving them regular access to water when they need it.
A bowl that can be kept securely allows the dog to self-regulate what they drink, or make sure there are regular stops for them to drink. Wet food instead of dry can also be a useful tool in keeping them hydrated.
Never leave them alone
Most responsible dog owners know that their dogs should never be left alone in a parked car, especially in high temperatures. It can take just a matter of minutes for a dog to become fatally unwell in a hot car, even with the window cracked open.
If you need a break from the car, then so do they.
Do the paperwork
If you are planning on travelling abroad you are likely to have checked you have your own passports, but do you have the required paperwork for your dog? This should include your pet health insurance, proof of immunisations and any pet passports or permits for the countries that you are travelling in or through.
Make them identifiable
Every dog owner dreads the day that they get loose and run away. In an unfamiliar place, they are less likely to find their way back, so it is important to make sure that they can be identified. You should ensure that your dog has been microchipped and that the information stored on this is up to date so that you can be contacted if they are found.
You can also add an ID tag to their collar that includes your phone number to make it quicker for your dog to be returned to you.
Keep them inside the car
The sight of a dog riding with its head out of the window, ears flapping in the breeze and tongue lolling is certainly amusing but it is not a safe idea. Most dogs love this, but they are at risk of being struck by debris, or even thrown out of the window in the event of an accident or an emergency stop.
Open the windows enough to allow a flow of fresh air, but make sure that your dog stays securely within the vehicle.
You will have to pack for your dog as well as you, so make sure that you have their favourite toys, waste bags and their regular food with you. It is a good idea to give them some toys in the car if it helps to keep them calm and occupied. Puzzle toys that have a treat in the middle can be a great source of amusement to keep boredom at bay and to ensure that they are less stressed by the journey.
Ensure that you do not give them too many toys though, especially if they are in a carrier as you will simply take up more of their precious space.
Know when to leave them at home
It is only natural to want your dog with you when you are enjoying yourself, but sometimes you need to look at who will benefit from the trip. If they are likely to be stressed by the journey or left alone for long periods while you are there, then it might actually be kinder not to bring them with you.
Leaving them with someone you trust, or a well-respected kennel or dog-sitter might allow them to have a better time than if they were actually with you.
Travelling with your dog can be great fun, but it needs some careful planning in order to ensure that it goes well. If you can keep them safe and happy during the journey, you will be able to have some great experiences together when you reach your destination.
Tracy Hill is the Marketing Manager of CarMats UK a leading car accessories manufacturer, with a factory that is based in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. All of their products are made in Britain by their amazing team of skilled workers.