The do’s and don’ts of taking your dog on a road trip.
Your pooch is a part of the family so it’s understandable that you would want to take him on holiday with you. But the dreams of them frolicking on the beach or splashing through mountain streams can easily become a nightmare if you don’t do some research before embarking on the trip.
BEFORE YOU GO
- Your research: Does your destination allow pets? Are there any specific rules with regards to pets? How long will it take to get there?
- How will you be transporting him? In the open boot, on the back seat, in a crate? Your and the dog’s safety is of the utmost importance, so be sure to have the necessary equipment.
- Plan your stops. Try not to be driving for more than an hour without a designated rest stop.
- Make sure your dog is comfortable and used to travelling in the car. If the only car trips he has done up till now are trips to the vet, chances are he will be very wary of that big shiny thing with four wheels. Do a few “positive experience” trips, such as trips to the park or beach.
- Make sure he is used to a crate if you will be transporting him in one – practice by doing a few car trips beforehand.
- Take your dog for walk to get rid of excess energy before the journey. He’ll be more inclined to sleep once in the car.
- Consider micro-chipping your dog, so he is easily traceable should he do a runner.
- If he’s susceptible to car-sickness, chat to your vet about what he can take.
- Travel with a sick animal. It’s not fair on the dog and will make your holiday pretty miserable too!
ON THE ROAD
- Ensure the safety of the dog and passengers at all times. One sudden brake and your dog will be catapulting onto your lap or worse. As mentioned above, if necessary, get a doggy seatbelt to restrain him, or purchase a crate.
- Place a blanket and familiar toys in the boot or crate (if applicable) to ensure your dog’s comfort and to entertain him.
- Make sure he has relieved himself before departure and feed him a good few hours before you leave so he’s not travelling on a full stomach.
- Stop often to allow him to stretch his legs, get rid of pent-up energy, relieve himself and have water and a snack. (every hour or so).
- Pack plastic bags so you can pick up after your dog.
- Leave your dog in the car, even for a few minutes. The heat inside the car can quickly become an oven.
- Feed your dog on the move. Rather wait until you are at a rest stop.
- Let him hang his head out the window. Debris could get into his eyes or he could even be hit by a passing vehicle.
- Open a car door if your dog is unrestrained. He could easily surprise you and jump out.
- It’s not recommended to medicate (or sedate) your dog. If you remain calm, and ensure your dog is comfortable at all times, the chances are he will travel well with no need for medication.
ONCE YOU’RE THERE
- Allow your dog to run around and get used to the new smells.
- Obey all rules as laid out by the destination, eg dogs on a leash etc.
- Stick to your usual routine with regards to feeding times, daily walks etc. Dogs thrive on routine and will ultimately remain happier and calmer.
- Let your dog run amok. Remain assertive and in control of your pet at all times.
- Allow your dog to bark incessantly, or go begging to your neighbours. It can be annoying for other holidaymakers and embarrassing for you.
With a little research and a lot of planning, a trip with your pooch need not be stressful for you or him. And it will make your holiday complete with all members of the family in tow!