In general, dogs have mixed feelings about traveling in cars. Some of them find it scary and often need a passenger to provide some comfort for them, whereas others love to fall asleep in the back seats to the relaxing hum of the road, or even stick their head out of the window and enjoy the breeze. Regardless of how your own dog behaves, traveling on a longer journey than usual may require some extra consideration for your furry friend – here are some of our top tips for a stress-free road trip.
Prepare In Advance
The more equipped you are before the journey, the easier things will go. Make sure to have some essentials with you, such as a small pouch of dry dog food and some bottled water. This will keep you prepared for the worst case scenario – if you were to suffer a breakdown and spend hours waiting to be rescued, your pooch won’t be feeling weak or stressed out from getting hungry or thirsty. You’ll also want to keep your pooch entertained, so bring along any (preferably non-squeaky) toys that are suitable enough for the car. If your dog isn’t as experienced with long trips in the car, it may be a good idea to build up to the big journey by taking them out more often – perhaps to parks further away than usual or to visit family members.
Cover Your Seats
A recent survey from a UK-based contract hire and leasing broker All Car Leasing indicated that a significant amount of dog owners don’t even let their dog inside their car – this was mainly due to the amount of fur they can leave behind if your dog is malting, they also don’t like the distinct doggy smell that often lingers around where the dog has been sat. If you have any spare throws, towels or seat covers, lay them down where your dog is going to spend its journey. That way, you won’t be spending hours trying to vacuum fur out of your seats – it’ll also keep your seats free from ingrained dirt and help protect against ‘accidents’.
Take Bathroom Breaks
Remember to take short breaks to let your dog stretch its legs and urinate – it’s likely you’ll need to do this yourself at some point in the journey, however, your dog has a much smaller bladder than you and may need to go to the toilet much sooner.
Keep An Eye On The Temperature
This tip is heavily dependent on the climate of where you’re headed, but in warmer areas dogs can begin to pant and dehydrate. If your car has air conditioning, keep it set to a low temperature, but for those without this luxury, simply keep your windows down with a sizeable gap, but not big enough for the dog to potentially climb out of. Your dog may also appreciate little breaks for some water and to catch a little bit of shade before carrying on the journey.
Keep Your Dog Occupied
As you don’t want your dog to distract you from the road, it’s a good idea to provide your dog with some toys or a long-lasting snack such as a rawhide, but a much more efficient tip is to take your dog out for a long walk or play before you set off on your journey, as they will tire themselves out and fall asleep for the whole trip. This also means you will have to drive more smoothly and avoid things such as harsh braking and turning, as to not wake them up. Remember though, you’re going to do the same journey twice, so if you’re doing both trips on the same day your dog will most likely be awake for one of the two journeys.
We reached out to the creators of the survey mentioned earlier to get their insight –
Ronnie Jones, Digital Marketing Manager for All Car Leasing and owner of a Jug Dog named Jeff, said:
“Personally, when I drive long distances it’s typically to destinations I haven’t been to before, so I need to be able to focus on my sat-nav and keep my eyes on the road. Jeff can be quite an active dog, so I make sure to take him to the local park before the journey to tire him out. I’ll still have him sat by me in the front passenger seat, but he typically falls fast asleep.”
Keep Them Restrained
Using a clip-in harness will keep your dog safe in case of emergencies but will also ensure that you don’t face any legal trouble if you were to be distracted as a result of your dog moving around the car or causing mischief.
Check out the full infographic for the survey mentioned earlier for even more interesting information.