Dogs make fantastic travelling companions, which is great news given that most owners treat them as part of the family. Whether accompanying you on the day to day chores or going away for the weekend, most dogs love getting in the car and heading out on their travels. However, just as you would want to ensure that your child is safely strapped into their car seat, there are some considerations to be made when taking your dog out on the road. As always, we have you covered with the top 10 tips for heading out with your pup in tow.
1. Ensure your Dog has ID
We are not talking about taking your dog on a pub crawl or bar binge here. It is essential to know that if your dog gets lost and found by someone else, they will have all the information they need to return him to you safely. The best way to do this is to get your pet microchipped – these chips can be read by vets and animal organisations to discover your contact information. Failing that, at least add some kind of external tag to your dog’s collar with a phone number so that they can be returned if the worst happens.
2. Dogs Suffer Motion Sickness Too
Not all humans suffer from motion sickness in a moving vehicle, and not all dogs do either. However, those that do can make a pleasant car ride turn messy in a hurry. This is one of those things that you will not truly know until you have experienced it. If it turns out that your dog is affected, there are 2 main options. You can always plug on in the hope that your dog gets used to it and no longer suffers symptoms. Alternatively, you can ask your vet for dedicated motion sickness medication, which works well in most cases. You are already well aware that accidents can happen, and so should have cleaning products on hand all ready for when the worst happens. In line with this, try to make sure that you leave at least 3 hours between feeding your dog and heading out as this will allow the food to become digested before coming back up.
3. Safety First
Dogs not only love going out in the car – some can become wildly excited to the point that they can become a danger to the driver and other passengers. If you have visited the vet for motion sickness medication, it is worth also enquiring about something to calm them on the journey. Other options include harnesses that affix to the standard seatbelt and hold your dog in place, or you can use a travel crate to keep them safely stowed away until you arrive.
4. Concentrate on Driving
If your dog has established themselves as part of the family, it can be tempting to divert your attention to them while driving. Naturally, this goes against every road safety protocol in the book. Never let the dog near the pedals or basic controls and keep your eyes on the road. If this is made difficult by them moving around, then the tips above for keeping them in place should be followed.
5. Get your Dog Used to a Crate Early
There are many reasons, such as those outlined above, why you might want to keep your pet safely stored away in a travel crate. While they love the road, not all of them are happy with being boxed in. As with any dog training, it is a case of getting them into the habit, and you should take the opportunity to introduce the crate prior to setting out for the first time.
6. Consider your Dog in Travel Arrangements
If you are taking your dog on holiday, you will obviously need to cater to their needs when it comes to accommodation. Pet-friendly hotels are not difficult to find and are an absolute priority on overnight stays. You will also want to ensure that you have the essentials to hand, like food, bowls and cleaning products.
7. Make Regular Stops
Driving is tiring, and so is being a passenger, so it is important to consider the needs of your pet when on long journeys. Simply getting out of the car can often freshen everyone up, and taking a walk also presents the opportunity to go to the toilet somewhere other than on your upholstery.
8. Stick to the Doggy Diet
You might be accustomed to eating out while away from home, but your dog is not, and you need to ensure that you have brought along enough of his favourite foods and treats to last the trip. It will often be down to you to provide liquid refreshment too, so having plenty of water on hand in the car is a great tip for humans, and our canine companions too.
9. Never be Tempted to Leave the Dog in the Car
After promoting rest stops and overnight stays, the chances are that you will be getting out of the car more regularly than just to check-in at your hotel of choice. In particularly hot or cool weather, the extremes of heat can affect your pet’s health faster than you might think due to being in an enclosed, windowed space. As a general rule, if you get out, they should get out too.
10. Remember the Luxuries
Dogs are creatures of habit, and there is every chance that they will miss their home comforts when out on the road. Food and water are the essentials, but toys and treats are only slightly less important. These toys can be used to make your travel crate feel homely, and treats can serve as an encouragement when getting your pet to behave on the beach or when sightseeing.