Everything you need to know about travelling with your dog
The Christmas holidays are often a time when families like to visit their loved ones across the country and further afield. Travelling by car is normally stressful, especially when caught up in busy traffic. The stress can made even greater when you decide to take your dog along with you.
However, there are many of ways to reduce the stress of travelling with your dog. Here are some handy tips to help make the journey a more relaxed.
1) Is your dog up-to-date with their vaccinations?
Whether you’re travelling across the country or through Europe, don’t forget to check-in with your local vet beforehand and ensure all your dog’s immunisations are up-to-date. This is more important when travelling abroad, but it is good practice for any long-distance journey.
It is also helpful if you have the number for any vets in the area you’re staying at. Emergencies can occur and it is better to have some numbers ready, just in case you need them.
2) Don't travel with a full stomach
To reduce the chances of your dog developing motion sickness while in the car, do not feed them right before a long journey. Before getting in the car, give them a chance to go to the toilet and ensure they’ve not eaten for at least an hour.
However, don’t forget that your four-legged friend will need to stay hydrated so keep water close by and topped up.
3) Plan a route with plenty of breaks
Plan your route and ensure you can pull over for a break at least every two hours so your dog can get out of the car, exercise and go to the toilet. With thousands of potential break points across the UK and abroad, just remember that you must clean up after your dog by putting their waste in a suitable bin or take it with you if poop bins are not available.
Be sure that when you pull over for a break that you never leave the dog alone in the car for a prolonged period of time. Not only can this cause the dog additional stress, but overheating is a possibility if windows are not sufficiently opened.
4) Travel at quieter times if you can
If possible, drive when traffic is bound to be less congested. This might mean travelling very early in the morning or late at night. But with less cars on the roads, you’re less likely to get caught up in traffic jams which will infuriate you and possibly stress out your dog.
5) Use appropriate travel equipment
Dogs are not always the best travellers. Small dogs are often best put into crates inside the car for lengthy journeys. This can help protect them from the injuries due to sudden stops while also preventing them from distracting you/ the driver if they are running loose inside the car. To make them feel more comfortable in the car, place their favourite toys (preferably quiet ones) and a blanket into the crate with them.
For larger dogs, it’s worth investing in a suitable dog harness/seatbelt to insure they stay safely secured. This will help prevent serious injuries in wake of an accident.
6) Train your dog for the journey
If your dog isn’t used to travelling by car then the sooner you start car training, the better. The first stage is to put the dog into a stationary car. Sit them in the car with you for 15-20 minutes at a time (a good excuse for a coffee break and a magazine). Try not to interact with them, as you can’t do that while driving!
After about three sessions of sitting in a stationary car or until they seem calm, start taking your dog on short car journeys. These journeys should get longer over a few days/weeks, until your dog is calm.
So be reassured knowing that a stressful car journey with your dog can be avoided this Christmas! Our handy tips above could help make the journey more relaxing for you and your pup so that you can both enjoy your Christmas break.