Planning an adventure? If your best friend is joining you, be prepared for a tail-waggingly easy journey with our top dog travel tips.
From quick trips to the park, to longer journeys to visit friends and family, even holidays abroad, one of the best things about sharing life with a dog is that they can come along on most adventures. With a little planning and preparation, travelling with dogs is fun and easy – for everyone.
6 top tips when travelling with dogs
Here’s our in-a-nutshell guide to happy adventures with your dog:
- Be safe and legal
Rule 58 of the Highway Code states:
“When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”
Loose dogs in cars can cause accidents, so be sure to sort out a doggie seatbelt, carrier, gate or crate. Free-roaming pets can invalidate your car insurance too, according to Moneysupermarket.com.
- Plan your route and drive carefully
For happy passengers of all species, take the time to plan your route. Allow enough time to drive safely, smoothly and carefully, so your dog keeps their footing, and doesn’t feel travel sick.
- Bring a picnic
If you’re planning a longer journey, bring water, food and bowls. We often break long journeys with a walk and a picnic – the National Trust welcome dogs at lots of stunning outdoor places.
- Take comfort breaks
Remember to take regular breaks so your dog can go to the toilet. When stopping off at service stations or picnic areas, it’s a good idea to keep your dog away from any litter or rubbish bins. If you do suspect that they have picked up and eaten something they shouldn’t have, it can be a good idea to have a digestive supplement like YuDIGEST PLUS for Dogs to hand.
- Be flea free
Keeping your flea treatment up to date – even in chillier months – is responsible, and sensible. You don’t want to take fleas on tour, or pick them up elsewhere!
- Check your ID
Make sure your microchip contact details are up to date in case your dog bolts in an unfamiliar place, and consider a temporary collar tag with your holiday address.
Leaving dogs in cars
There are three very good reasons to avoid leaving dogs in cars:
Danger of overheating
Dogs die in hot cars – even in overcast weather. According to the RSPSA, when it’s 22 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can reach an unbearable 47 degrees within the hour.
Danger of theft
Dog theft a real risk. All breeds and mixes are targeted, and it’s not just for the resale market – tragically, some family pets are stolen for use as ‘bait dogs’.
Danger of accidents
Dogs wearing collars or harnesses can get caught in cars when left unsupervised, in some cases, fatally. You can remove the collar – but if they bolt when you return to the car, your dog is loose without ID. Risky, either way.
If you do decide to leave your dog in your car, be sure to park in the shade, turn your car alarm off, and open all windows an inch or two. However, with a little planning, Fido should be able to join you for most trips and meals… try an app like Doggity, a quick google search, or a visit to the local Tourist Information to check out dog friendly local options.
Dog travel sickness
Unfortunately some dogs are prone to travel sickness – just like some people. But there’s a lot you can do to help them feel more comfortable:
- Avoid feeding a large meal before you travel
- Go for a walk before you set off so your pooch sleeps through the journey
- Ask your vet for travel sickness medication
- Avoid small, twisty roads and drive as smoothly as possible
- Stop for regular breaks to help their tummy settle and let them get some fresh air
Some dogs are fearful or cars and travel. This can happen for lots of reasons – a bad experience in puppyhood, a lack of socialisation, even just associating the car with feeling sick. In mild cases, you can work through this using desensitisation and counter conditioning, perhaps with a calming supplement like YuCALM Dog. In more serious cases, it’s important to talk to your vet or behaviour expert, who’ll help you come up with a plan to help your dog become a happy traveller.
Travelling with puppies and young dogs
If you’re lucky enough to have recently welcomed a puppy to your family, it’s important to help them build a positive association with the car. Start with very short trips – 5 minutes or less – and make the experience positive. Gradually build up the time, and be sure to make destinations are always happy places. While dogs are young, it’s a good idea to avoid feeding them just before a car journey – take their food with you, and feed at your destination. As well as avoiding upset tums, it helps them associate cars with happy things (dinner time!)
Dogs and cats on public transport
Did you know that most UK train operators allow dogs for free – and cats in carriers? Of course, you’ll need to be considerate to other passengers and plan your journey to avoid rush hours, but travelling by train can be a great alternative if your dog isn’t keen on the car. Don’t forget to take a small water bowl and a bed or blanket for your dog curl up in on the floor – even though it’s tempting to snuggle up on the seat, the next passenger may not appreciate your dog’s hair on their clothes! Most bus companies take dogs too, though some charge a doggie fare.
Pets and taxis
Many taxi companies will arrange a pet friendly taxi – though taking your dog in a taxi may incur an additional charge. It’s best to phone and book, as taxi drivers aren’t obliged to take passengers with pets – only Guide Dogs – and you may struggle to find a dog-friendly driver on a rank.
Travelling with dogs overseas
Currently, your pet dog, cat or ferret can travel within the EU with you, as long a they’ve been microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, and hold a Pet Passport. Find out more on gov.uk.uk.
So there you have it – all our top dog travel tips. We love to hear about your dogs and your adventures together, so please do leave a comment and tell us more about your travels with dogs.
And if you found this article useful, why not share with friends – use the icons at the top of the page.