Top tips to make car-travel with your dog easier
Traveling with a dog in the car should be a good experience – but some preparation is necessary to make sure he will be a good traveler – and it starts at an early age.
1. Introduce Dogs to the Car at an Early Age
It is important and beneficial to the whole family, to get the dog used to being in the car from an early age. Take them on short trips to the park and take his ball so he can have a play whilst there, or drive to a friend’s place, even if it is only a 10 minute drive; do this on a regular basis so the dog will start to feel comfortable in the car. Make it fun so that he will associate it as something exciting every time. Gradually increase the time by five or ten minutes each time he goes out in the car, and he will associate it with being a good and happy experience.
2. Open the Windows
When he is in the car, make sure the windows are open, because dogs love fresh air, and they love to smell it! If he is prone to car sickness, smelling the fresh air could prevent him from being sick.
3. Do Not Leave Dog in Car
Please, please do not leave a dog in a car for any length of time, especially on a hot day. The temperature inside a parked car is much higher than the temperature outside. Temperatures rise very quickly inside a parked car and it becomes a heat-box in a very short time. On an 80(F) degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can reach 120 degrees in the space of 10 minutes. A dog in that situation will suffer heat-stroke and can die in the space of only 6 minutes – even if the windows are slightly open. It’s just not worth the risk.
4. Keep Dog Cool
Dogs tend to overheat quickly, so if it is extremely hot, close the windows and put the air conditioning on as this will mean less stress both for him and for the owner. Put sun shades up on the back windows of the car, as this will prevent direct sunlight coming into the car and causing heat distress to your dog on the back seat. It is very important to keep a dog cool in a car.
5. Take His Bedding
A dog will always feel more comfortable when he lies on his own bedding and has his own familiar smells around him, so give him his own designated area every time he goes in the car, and put his blanket or bed in that area every time; this will make him feel more secure. Dogs like and actually need routine, so it’s important for him to know where his “place” is in the car. If he knows this, he will settle down in his “place” every time he gets into the car.
Take his favorite toy with him too – it’s surprising the difference it will make having his own “stuff” with him.
6. Fresh Water
Depending on the length of the journey, take plenty of fresh water and keep it cool in an ice box or something similar. Take his own dog bowl to drink out of; keeping things as normal as if he was still at home is the key, because having his own “stuff” around him makes him feel comfortable, relaxed and secure.
Before embarking on any car trip, the dog should know basic obedience commands such as come, sit, stay, down. The owner’s safety and the dog’s safety could depend on it. There are harnesses available for dogs that travel in cars, and this could be a life-saver for a dog – much like a seat belt for humans! If he is restrained, he cannot jump over into the front seats and distract the driver of the car; that could be catastrophic for everyone in the car. This is especially a good idea when going on a long journey or if the dog is nervous and is jumping all over the place. It will calm him down and he will soon get the message to lie down in his designated “place”.
If your dog is used to a crate and it will fit in your car, then that would be the safest place for him and for you; just make sure you secure the crate!
8. Bathroom Stops
If embarking on a long journey, make plenty of stops to allow the dog to relieve himself; if he doesn’t get out often enough, he will become stressed from having a full bladder. Watch for the signs – panting, moving around and even whining.
9. Leash Dogs
When travelling to an unfamiliar place, it’s a good idea to leash the dog before he gets out of the car. It will stop him from running off and getting lost! In a lot of places, this is a requirement anyway.
10. Clean Up After Walkies
Be prepared with a “doggie bag” to clean up after Rover has had his walk in the park – not a pleasant job, but a necessary one for health reasons, and if everybody adheres to this rule, it makes taking Rover for a walk a more pleasant one for everyone else who uses the park.
Did you mention ‘CAR’?
The following advice was sent to me by a friend whose family are visiting her shortly by car and bringing their dog with them; she would like to share her own tips here also. Thank you Kendra.
Traveling Successfully with Your Family Dog
When my family and I bring our dog on vacation, we do all we can to make sure she feels comfortable and at home during the trip. Shortly, some family members of ours will be coming to visit us in Chicago, and they’ll be bringing their dog along with them. I thought this would be a great time to share a few of the tips I use to help keep everyone happy when I travel with my own family pet.
1. Avoid Flying
Although there can be benefits to flying, airplanes and dogs don’t mix well. The only time a dog should be placed on a plane is when you are relocating and there are no other options. If you don’t have a choice concerning flying with your pet, make sure you follow guidelines for flying with animals that have been set by PETA.
2. Crate Your Dog Successfully
I used to feel terrible about having to crate my dog. Now I realize that she is actually happier and safer in her crate when we take a road trip. We always make sure that she gets plenty of exercise before putting her in her crate. When she’s ready to rest, a crate that fits her well is a great place for her to rest safely while we head toward our destination.
3. Keep Your Dog Calm
Overly excited dogs and traveling families don’t work well. When traveling with your pet, take steps to keep her or him calm. We like to use lavender essential oil to rub on her spine and help her relax. It also helps to bring her favorite toy or a blanket that she enjoys snuggling in.
4. Keep Your Dog Safe
When you go on vacation with your dog, be sure to take proper safety measures. In addition to following PETA guidelines for air or car travel, make sure you take proper precautions if you plan any water-related vacation activities. Flotation vests for dogs are essential if you plan to go onto the water in a boat. This is especially important if your dog is new to boating or has certain medical problems.
Family travel is more fun when the entire family can join in the fun. When my family visits, I suggested they stay right downtown as well. Not only are there a number of great hotels for both families and dogs, but also they are close to all the sites! If you have family travel plans coming up, take these tips to help your four-legged family member enjoy the adventure along with everyone else.
A happy, safe and secure dog in a car = a happy and relaxed car driver!