There are a huge number of reasons why you might be planning a road trip with your dog — maybe you are moving house, going on holiday, or going to visit friends or family. Taking your furry friend along with you can be a great experience, especially if you’re going somewhere that you will be able to enjoy together.
Compared to cats, dogs are much more likely to take a long stretch in the car in their stride, but there are still a number of considerations that you should make to ensure that their safety and welfare is protected. With this in mind, we’ve decided to help you out by sharing our top five tips for travelling safely with your pooch. Read on to find out more.
Go for a long walk together before setting off
On an ideal journey, your dog would settle down immediately and remain that way until you stop or reach your destination. The reality is that, unless you have a very well-trained hound, they will probably become restless or fidgety when they tire of being in the same position for too long.
However, you can increase the chances that they will simply crash out and snooze by taking them for a nice long walk before or near the beginning of the trip. Walkiees is a website that compiles user-submitted suggestions for great dog walks, and you can use this as a resource to locate a route near you or somewhere along the way.
Pack everything you need in advance
Before you set off, you should take the time to check that you’ve packed everything you need for the journey and your stay after it. This means that you should remember to bring along any essentials that your dog needs, such as medication or specialist dog food, in a quantity that will last for your whole trip together.
It’s also worth thinking about some non-essential items that could be useful, such as your pooch’s favourite blanket or chew toy. Having these at hand during your journey can help your dog settle as it gives them something familiar to enjoy among all the new sights, sounds, and smells.
Double check their tracking information is up to date
Hopefully you will never have to use it, but it is worth checking that your dog’s microchip information is up to date with your current address and contact details. The prospect of losing your pet in a strange location is scary enough, but at least you will be able to take some comfort in knowing that their details are accurate.
You can check and update records through one of the UK’s pet databases, which the Dog’s Trust has an extensive list of here. Take the time to check that their collar details are also up to date, as this will probably be the first place someone looks for information if your dog goes missing and is found.
Thankfully, there are a couple of things that you can do to keep them safe. If you have a smaller dog, consider putting them into a pet carrier, which can be wedged in the foot well or secured against the back of a seat.
Make sure they are secure
When you are travelling, you need to make sure that your dog is secure in your vehicle. The last thing you want is for them to get hurt if you need to brake sharply or are involved in an accident. You also don’t want them to have free reign of the vehicle interior, where they could potentially cause a distraction for the driver.
Thankfully, there are a couple of things that you can do to keep them safe. If you have a smaller dog, consider putting them into a pet carrier, which can be wedged in the foot well or secured against the back of a seat. Alternatively, you can invest in a pet harness, like this one from the RSPCA, which can be attached to a seat belt to limit their movement.
For a larger dog, you may want to consider installing a dog guard at the back of your car. Adjustable models, like this one from DriveDen, can fit most sizes of vehicle, and will keep your furry friend from roaming around and putting his or her head where it is not appreciated.
Take regular pit-stops
Making regular stops on your journey is something that you should do if you want to avoid soggy seats or an agitated animal. Pulling over and heading out for a stroll around a car park or grassy area will do you both the world of good, allowing you to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. It’s also the perfect time for your dog to do their business and have a drink of water or a snack. Aim to stop regularly, perhaps every hour or two, depending on how far you have to travel.
Take our top tips on board and you can be confident that your furry friend will be as comfortable as possible on your road trip. Once it’s over, you can both enjoy your time in your new location together.