Car travels with your dog: How to prepare for long journeys

Travelling with your furry friend is becoming more frequent these days, especially for shorter trips to the supermarket and the shops, or for days out. What may not be as frequent is longer journeys that require your dog to stay in the car for several hours at a time.

While some dogs may get excited by the sound of car keys, others hide under the nearest item of furniture, so it’s important to ensure the drive is as safe and comfortable as possible for them. To help you out, take a look at our tips for how to travel safely with your dog for long journeys.

Safety first
The main thing to consider when travelling with your dog is their safety. The Highway Code states that dogs or other animals must be suitably restrained in any vehicle. This means no wandering around in the vehicle, sitting on someone’s lap, or poking their head out of the window.

Unrestrained pets pose a serious threat to themselves and others, especially during sudden stops or accidents. Additionally, allowing them in the front seat can be just as dangerous due to the threat of the airbags being deployed.

To ensure your vehicle is well equipped to transport your dog safely, use a crate, barrier, or approved harness to prevent them from wandering around the car while it is moving. You can keep your pup in the boot of the vehicle or the backseat but they must be secured either way. You may also use a guard to block access to the passenger interior, which can reduce distractions.

Keeping them comfortable
Just like humans, dogs become bored very easily if they don’t have anything to keep their minds engaged. This can lead to them becoming restless or stressed during the journey, particularly if they weren’t so happy to begin with.

Therefore, you’ll need to make sure your pup is both comfortable and entertained for the entirety of the journey. While they may sleep for the majority of the ride, it’s best to bring along some of their favourite toys or blankets just in case – essentially something familiar to them. You may even decide to hide treats in the toys to keep your dog occupied.

Additionally, consider investing in a large dog bed for them to lie in. This can help your furry friend to relax much easier and take a snooze if they wish. Check the temperature and sound levels are comfortable as well and no direct sunlight is shining directly onto them. Anxious doggies tend to benefit from fresh air and new smells during car rides.

Take regular breaks
Dogs can’t always easily convey what they want or how they are feeling, especially during unfamiliar or stressful situations. They may need a break or to use the bathroom at some point on your journey, so make sure to factor in regular breaks, even to just allow them to stretch their legs.

Plan your route beforehand and look at what possible stopping points are available, including dog-friendly facilities. It can also be a good idea to find somewhere with grass as large vehicles and noisy roads can be frightening for your dog if they are not used to it. It’s important to keep them on a lead at all times to prevent them from running off and harming themselves.

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