Driving with dogs – how to make it a stress free experience

Holidays and trips with your dog can be a great experience for everyone, creating special family memories for all involved; however, travelling can be the trickiest part of the holiday and often puts people off taking their furry friends along. If you take steps to make sure it’s as comfortable and stress free an experience as possible for you both then not only can your dog join in the quality time away, but you also won’t have the expense or worry of them being in boarding kennels while you are on holiday.

For car travel with a pet, you can make long journeys easier by getting your dog gradually accustomed to travelling by taking them with you on short trips until you both become familiar with driving together. During car journeys, it is advisable to restrain your dog or place them in a secure rear area so they can’t distract the driver and compromise anyone’s safety. Always use a harness to restrain a dog in a car and never use their  collar, restraining a pet by their collar could result in injury to their neck if there was a sudden jerk caused by firm breaking or an accident. Never allow your dog to have its head out of the window while you’re driving as this can pose a number of dangers including a passing object potentially striking your pet’s head, or dirt particles and flies getting into your pet’s ears, eyes, nose or throat which could cause injuries and health problems.

Be careful not to feed your dog too soon before you set off or too much because they can be prone to motion sickness; it is also not recommended to feed your dog while you’re moving, so instead give them a small snack and some water during any breaks on the journey. Also use breaks to encourage movement by playing or taking them for a quick walk to release pent-up energy and provide them with an opportunity to go to the toilet.  Chew toys provided during driving time can also help to occupy your dog. It goes without saying but never leave your dog alone in a parked car in warm conditions, regardless of whether the window is slightly open, the car can rapidly become hot and your dog dehydrated and hypothermic.

Adding a travel tag onto your pet’s collar is a useful thing to consider in advance of a trip, as it will help someone be able to contact you if your pet was to get separated. It’s best to include a contact phone number and also address information for both your holiday location and home.

For any journey, be sure to bring along your dog’s favourite toy, bone or blanket to comfort them by being surrounded with familiar objects. Often the best source of comfort can be yourself or another member of your family, so use your tone of voice and body language to keep them as relaxed as possible – after all, your dog trusts you the most.

Most importantly, enjoy taking your dog along with you, a holiday is as much fun for your pet as it is for you so keep the travelling worries and stress to a minimum and it will be smiles all round!

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