Traveling with your dog can be a fun experience, but for a smooth journey and an enjoyable holiday, a little preparation can go a long way.
To ensure you and your dog have a fantastic adventure, UK dog accommodation site Canine Cottages has compiled a list of ten travel tips for a comfortable journey and stay with your dog.
Keep your dog secure while driving
While many dogs may like to roam freely in the back of the car, having a crate large enough for them to sit in comfortably (padded with their own bedding and toys) will make the journey safer for both you and them. It will stop them from distracting you and, in the event of an accident, your pet will be less likely to escape.
There are other acceptable restraint options such as seatbelt harnesses and dog guards. Canine Cottages recommends choosing one that is best for the size of your car and the number of dogs traveling.
Stop to take breaks frequently
A long car journey can a toll on your dog and just like us humans, they also need to use the bathroom. Frequent stops for them to stretch their legs and relieve themselves can make a huge difference and will make future journeys more enjoyable too.
Most dogs will appreciate the opportunity for a little stroll and a few sniffs. Be sure to have your dog’s leash firmly and securely attached, as even the best-behaved hounds may want to take themselves off when they see all that new space on offer!
Never leave your dog alone in the vehicle
One of the, if not, the most, important rule when it comes to road trips with your dog is to never leave them alone in the vehicle.
Cars can become very hot very quickly even with windows open and, in the warmer months, it can only take 15 minutes for a dog to suffer from fatal heatstroke.
If you need to stop at a motorway service station, there are usually plenty of areas to take your dog for a walk as well as outside tables where your dog can join you for a snack. Just be aware of extra noise and traffic.
If you have a nervous dog, try and find a less noisy spot and always choose a quieter service station where possible. When taking them out to stretch their legs, it may be helpful to double leash with both a collar and a well-fitting secure harness that they are comfortable wearing.
Bring plenty of water
During the journey, having fresh water is as essential to your dog as it is to you in keeping hydrated. Take a collapsible bowl for the trip and have bottled water to hand once you arrive at your cottage; the difference in tap water varies dramatically across the country, and your dog may not like water from a different location, so take some other options just in case.
Be mindful of giving your pet bottled water long-term as some minerals can be removed during the distillation process. Canine Cottages recommends spring water over distilled if you only have bottled water to hand. However, this is a much-debated topic and, as always, it is better to speak to your vet before making any changes to your pet’s regime.
Carry treats for your pooch
Carrying treats during a road trip is a great idea as your dog is bound to feel a little uneasy being somewhere new and with treats you can reward them for behaving well.
However, it is important to keep in mind that some dogs suffer from travel sickness so it is best to avoid rich food or treats before or during the journey. Speak with your vet about how to manage this and when to feed your dog if you have a long journey ahead.
Take care if letting your dog off the leash
When your dog is in a new environment they will be curious about the world around them and even though they may be obedient off the leash, they could act differently while traveling. For that reason, it’s best to keep your dog on lead where possible, especially if you are discovering new areas as there may be cliff edges, lakes or livestock that you don’t know about and some areas may even have regulations stating that dogs must be kept on a lead.
Chloe Jackson, Canine Behaviourist and Training Manager at Battersea recommends working on your dog’s recall command before you go away so you have additional peace of mind that they will respond when you call.
“Once your dog has learned to come back to you in familiar environments, it’s a good idea to practice it on a long lead in different, safe environments in your local area so that they know to focus on coming back when called, whatever situation they are in,” Jackson said.
Keep to a routine
Your dog might be used to having a routine at home, including feeding and walking times. It is recommended to maintain this routine to make them feel as comfortable as possible on holiday, and keeping up their walks makes for a happy, healthy hound in any case!
Be sure that you take enough of your dog’s regular food in case you can’t find it nearby. If you run out of dog food then remember that it’s always best to introduce new foods gradually over a period of days to avoid stomach upsets. A holiday isn’t the best time to start a new food as it may upset your dog’s stomach while on the road or in a new place.
To help with familiarity, it is also a good idea to take your dog’s favorite bed, blanket and toys. The more things they have from home, the more likely they are to settle.
Don’t leave dogs alone in a strange new place
Do not leave dogs alone in your holiday home. While many cottages are likely to have this rule in place anyway, it is advisable to always have a human nearby, as the new environment and strange surroundings may make your pet feel anxious and uneasy.
Help your dog relax
Many of us go on holidays to relax and traveling to an unfamiliar place with your dog could be a little unsettling which is why it helps to help them relax too. You can treat your dog to a massage and some relaxing music and be sure to give them lots of attention.
Do research on local vets
It’s always a good idea to know ahead of time where the closest vet to you is in case of an emergency. Having pet insurance and have your dog microchipped are also good ideas to consider when taking your dog traveling.
Be sure to look into local dog friendly attractions, stores, cafes and restaurants ahead of time. If you’re going on the coast, it’s also a good idea to see which beaches are dog friendly during the time you plan to visit. Luckily, more holiday places in the UK are becoming pet friendly.
Make a list
Remember to make a list of everything you might need during the trip. This includes toys, blankets, and any possible medication your pet might need. In case you did forget your dog’s medication, you can call up your vet and have them speak to your local vet so they can possibly prescribe emergency medication, if needed.
Above all, remember to have fun during this memorable adventure with your dog.