Dogs are inevitably becoming more important in our society. They bring their furry and excited attire everywhere they go. I have noticed a trend on Instagram, that dog ownership has become a symbol of status for millennials.
Dogs are great companions and motivators. Follow them and keep exploring and appreciating life every day (and every inch of the unknown). As a travelling dog owner, I would like to share a few tips on how to stay sane travelling with your dog – it needn’t be a stressful experience! I was travelling with my dog, Mimi since she was very little. Together we’ve visited quite a few countries across Europe, including a big road trip from Poland to the UK, France, and a trip to Brighton!
Moving to the UK from Poland together was an adventure in itself. By the time she turned one, she was very well behaved – a super-chill furry ball that can sleep anywhere. Sometimes she does rebel and makes me carry her like a baby.
What should I bring on a road trip with my dog?
- Water bowl or bottle – I recommend teaching your dog to drink from a water bottle. You can use a cup which is also fine providing you have a clean one to hand. I guess you could let them drink from the palm of your hand, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it unless it is a last resort and there is no other option. Hydration is vital for humans and dogs alike – so remember to carry a bowl or water bottle with you at all times.
- Documents – If your dog has a passport, it’s important to have it with you, keep it safe with human passports so it’s easy to keep track. Also, pet passport has all information about microchip number, vaccines and treatments confirmation. Essential to travel abroad. Passport is checked when you’re crossing the UK/EU border on a ferry or Eurotunnel to confirm your animal has all required treatments.When bringing a pet to the UK, remember that your pet needs to have a tapeworm treatment at least 24h before crossing the border (but no more than 72h) and a valid rabies vaccine (needs to be repeated once a year). More info on Government website.
- Muzzle – very often you might be required to put a muzzle on your pooch, so find one that fits properly before embarking on a trip. Try to avoid a muzzle that limits the dog’s ability to open their mouth. This is known to cause overheating – dogs are only able to disperse excess heat through their paws and mouth.
- Blanket or foldable mattress – It will be nice to make your dog comfortable to lay down on the soft surface. For summer, there are amazing cooling gel mats to keep your furry friend chill.
- Harness, collar and lead – these are every-day essentials for every outing, so have yours ready, it can also be mighty useful to carry a spare.
- Non-adjustable leads – I can’t recommend them enough. Retractable/Flexi leads are bad from the behavioural standpoint. Why? They teach the dog, the harder it pulls, the further it can get. Also, in busy travel spots, like a coach or train station, airport or parking – you should keep your dog close.
- Consider adding a tag to your dog’s neck collar with your phone number and the dog’s name in case your dog gets lost.
- Emergency essentials – better be safe than sorry, right? I always carry a tick-removing device, especially when heading into wilder nature areas, as the removal of them was the most common problem I experienced in Poland.
- Poo bags – no need to explain, right?
- Food and snacks – during a road trip, it’s best not give any food to your dog, in case it could feel sick. Feeding a few hours prior will suffice. None of the dogs I have travelled with had motion sickness but I know it is quite common. It depends on your dog, I just got lucky. Allow some time for a dog to get used to the car environment.
There’s nothing stopping you from starting your travels as soon as possible!
Don’t worry if your dog isn’t yet familiar will travelling in a vehicle, like with most things they will adapt to it.
Obviously, take the unique capabilities of your dog into account – if it’s just a few hours journeys, perhaps it’s a better idea to keep them fasted and feed them once you reach your destination for the day. Dogs naturally tend to lack appetite when on the road.
- Crate – if you are travelling by car, some countries will require you to transport your dog in a suitable crate, it’s a great device to keep at home and load in the car for when you travel. There are many proven benefits from using a crate, with a major one being a ‘marked safe spot’ for your dog. It is a space for rest and being unreachable. You should never drag your dog out of the cage, it might knock your dog’s confidence to use it with comfort. More on crate training here. If you’re wondering, what size you should pick for your dog, see great comprehensive guide on picking the right size of crate for your dog.
- Seatbelt harness – if your car is too small for a crate, there are seatbelt attachments in the form of a short leash. They can safely restrain your dog from moving around the car or disturbing the driver.
Remember, you shouldn’t restrain your dog using a collar. Stick to using a harness for this, it is way safer in case of an accident.
Do most hotels allow dogs? Generally speaking, around 10-20% of hotels accept a stay with a pet. It will vary by location, type of accommodation (hostel, hotel, apartment, holiday house or a lodge…) – it is always better to confirm beforehand. In France, for instance, most of the hotels like F4 or HolidayInn will accept a pet for an extra charge. It’s usually 10 EUR per night. This probably covers an extra amount of cleaning. I have seen many people letting dogs sleep in a camper van with a special window attachment for good airflow. Dogs were sleeping in a car park in front of the hotel when owners were staying in for the night. I’ll let you judge for yourself the best solution for you and your pet. I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep knowing it’s there on its own!
Both Booking.com and Airbnb allow filtering by pet-friendliness of a place.
Precautions to consider when traveling with a dog.
As a dog owner, you are responsible for its well-being and safety – including passengers around. Keep in mind, it doesn’t matter how used to travel your dog is, it will always be a bit stressful. Try to make it as comfortable, both mentally and physically for your dog.
Dogs are great in detecting if you’re angry, stressed, tired and it will affect their mood. It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. Having to buy some essentials last-minute is always
Try to avoid crowded places, work as a team, if you’re traveling with other people.
Hot weather is more dangerous than you think.
When traveling during the summer months in a hot climate, think about a dog’s paws. They don’t have any thermal protection layer. Dog paws are very sensitive like you would have to walk on the tarmac or a pavement barefoot. Try to avoid exploring in the midday, when the pavements and roads are the hottest.
To check if it’s safe for your dog to walk on pavement, place your hand on the ground for seven seconds. If the heat is unbearable, then move your walk for later. You might realize that you enjoy early morning and late evening exploration more.
Walking in a full sun blast means burned skin and overheated paws! It’s common sense.
Any extreme temperatures (both summer hot temperatures and snow or ice in the winter) should be limited so your dog stays safe. Paws can get their skin burned but can also get frostbite.
Wild animals – if you travel in nature, it’s very likely that there are some wild animals living there.
If you’re unsure about your surroundings, don’t let your dog off the lead. Never trust your dog 100% while they’re roaming free, as the natural instinct can wake up in even the most well trained and well behaved dog. Keep your dog’s attention and be cautious if there is any potential danger around. TIP. If you want to give your dog a bit more freedom it deserves, use extra-long lead which you can attach to your waist belt. By extra long, I mean 5-10 meters. That provides control in the case of a live animal on sight. Or dead animal roll situation – or rolls so disgusting I will not even mention them!
Truth is, it is a bit of a challenge and preparation-heavy way of traveling. Although I believe traveling with a dog adds another dimension to exploration.
If you love nature, are not a fan of crowded tourist traps and simply have a beloved pet at home – a holiday with your pet will be a great adventure. It will be a great experience for you both. Dogs are great companions to everyday trail hikes, beach walks, and forest exploration.
If you have any other tips, leave a comment!
The cost of dog travel is extra charges for transportation and accommodation. As an average, it shouldn’t be more than £15 per night or £10 for a train ticket, but the final price depends on a carrier. If you travel by car, there won’t be any extra charges. The cost of dog travel is extra charges for transportation and accommodation. As an average, it shouldn’t be more than £15 per night or £10 for a train ticket, but the final price depends on a carrier. If you travel by car, there won’t be any extra charges.
Dogs love being around its herd, so if you can take your dog on an adventure with you, great! Exploring with a dog is a rewarding and bonding experience. It will not miss you like it would in doggy day care and can you can have fun times together.
Let your imagination be the limit. Dogs particularly enjoy nature destinations (think lakes, beaches, forests). Check local rules on bringing the dog along with you. There is plenty of dog-friendly beaches, pubs, restaurants and parks across the world.
It depends on how old your dog is. It’s best to not exceed 4 hours of constant driving. More breaks give some spare time for a dog to release any stress, have a little walk – it will also be good for everyone else.
Make sure harness fits well and you restrained the dog with some elbow room to find a restful position. Provide your dog with a blanket to lay on and a toy to play with. Try not to disturb it too much by talking, loud music or touch.
The safest recommended way is to put a dog in a crate. Do not remove the harness or a collar while the dog is in the crate for the easy exit for breaks and walks. Put the crate on the back seat or in a boot if there’s enough room.