Tips for taking your dog on a road trip
Our dogs are part of the family, and that’s just how it should be, so what happens when you want to go away? If you are considering taking your dog on holiday with you, or on any kind of road trip, it pays to be as well prepared as possible. Planning ahead is essential, so we’ve put together 11 tips that will ensure both you and Fido have the best and most relaxed time possible.
Before you go
1. Does your dog want to go on holiday?
This may sound silly, but how will your dog feel about being away from home? If you have a nervy dog, or an elderly dog that prefers their home comforts, it may be kinder to hire a pet sitter, or ask a friend to look after them. If your dog does not travel well, will not enjoy camping, or being lugged around constantly, reconsider taking your pet away.
2. Consider how well trained your dog is
If your dog is unruly or out of control, or if he won’t come back to you when you let him loose, then you’re not going to have much fun. You don’t want a situation that is embarrassing or dangerous. You love your dog, but that doesn’t mean everyone else will. Hopefully your dog knows basic obedience and responds well to your commands.
3. Will your dog be allowed?
The next consideration is to think about where you are going and finding out whether dogs are permitted. You may be staying on a campsite or in a cottage where certain breeds are not allowed. Is there somewhere for your dog to toilet? If you are heading for the coast, which beaches allow dogs? Which attractions allow dogs? Will your dog be allowed in restaurants and pubs? Taking your dog can be very tying for all concerned and you won’t be allowed to leave a dog unattended in a tent, caravan, hotel room or rented cottage, so do think about this in advance. After all, eating a pie on a park bench in the pouring rain every night, will soon wear a bit thin.
4. Check out local vets and kennels
You may want to consider day boarding or overnight boarding if you need to be free of your dog one day or night. Find somewhere local to where you are staying and book them in, well in advance. This is particularly important during the summer and at weekends.
Make a note of the vets that are close to where you are staying too. You never know when you’ll need to pay a visit. Print off directions for them along with their emergency contact number and store the information in your glove box. Take your dog’s vaccination certificates with you, and the address and phone number of your vet at home, just in case you need to contact them.
5. Make sure your dog is fit and healthy before you travel
As a responsible pet owner, it stands to reason that your pet’s jabs are up-to-date and you have wormed and used a flea treatment on her (bearing in mind the preponderance for ticks and parasites in areas of forest and long grass). All dogs are required to wear a pet tag and be micro-chipped these days, and it’s a wise idea to make sure your pet insurance is up-to-date before you leave too.
6. Pack your dog’s suitcase
Your dog doesn’t need much but what he does need is essential. Make a list and cross everything off as you pack it.
- Food and water bowls
- Collar and lead, and harness if you use one. ID tag.
- Bed and blankets
- Poo bags (make sure you have them in every bag and pocket you possess!)
- Medication if applicable
- Toys – especially if your dog likes to chew
- Photos of your dog in case you lose him
- Dog food (try not to change their diet while you’re away otherwise you’ll end up with a dog with an upset stomach)
7. Check if your dog likes travelling by car
If your dog has never travelled by car, how do you know whether they can cope with it? Some dogs can get very car-sick or anxious. As far as possible, do trips with your dog to test their reaction. Create a comfortable place in the car and make sure they are secured – either in a crate or on a harness. It is important they don’t distract the driver. Once you’re on the way, you will need to stop every few hours to allow them to attend to their business and have a good stretch and a drink.
If your dog does get car-sick, avoid feeding them near to the time of travel. If your dog is anxious, you may be able to get a sedative from your vet.
If you prefer a natural product that calms your dog during a trip in the car, then Bach flowers can help with that. Bach flower mix 105 helps your dog to stay calm and prevents confusion and worry.
Once you arrive
8. Familiarise your pooch
When you get to your destination, walk your pet around so that she can familiarise herself with her temporary home. There will be lots of exciting sniffs, so be patient with her. Do not leave your dog alone – even to unpack the car - until she is settled and happy. They will be fearful if you leave them in a place they don’t know.
9. Resume their routines
Most dogs love routines. They know when they’ll eat or have treats and when they should be walked or go out in the garden. As far as possible stick to those routines. In addition, having her bed and blankets will help to reassure her that not everything has suddenly changed.
10. You’re not allowed to switch-off
The danger of relaxing while you’re on holiday is that you let your guard down. This is how accidents happen. Remain vigilant about your dog’s safety. You don’t know the area you’re staying in so be cautious. The roads are different, there might be cliffs or coastline that you’re unfamiliar with, or animals grazing that your dog has never come across before. Be aware of the countryside code and stick to it.
11. Water, water everywhere
You’ll be amazed at how much your dog needs to drink while you’re on the go. Carry water for your dog everywhere and a travel bowl. Never leave your dog in a car, even if the weather is not so good, the car can soon heat up and your dog will roast. Shade screens for your car window are a good idea while you’re travelling, but they won’t help if the sun is out and your car is parked up.
If you are well prepared and you put your dog at the heart of everything you do while you’re on holiday, you’ll have a great time. Stay safe, and enjoy!
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