As part of our mission to help the UK’s dogs travel happier, we’re keen to make sure every road trip is a fun, stress-free experience for our furry friends.
We’ve teamed up with Dogs Trust Head of Canine Behaviour, Dr Jenna Kiddie to share some top tips for happy travel, so you and your pet enjoy the journey as much as possible.
IT’S ALL IN THE BODY LANGUAGE.
Notice how your dog behaves around and inside your car. If they’re happy, they’ll enthusiastically hop on in and settle down. A much-loved blanket or cushion, full of familiar smells, can help your canine feel calm and relaxed.
“YOU CAN TELL YOUR DOG’S A HAPPY TRAVELLER IF THEY SETTLE EASILY ONCE INSIDE”
Signs of distress can be shaking, panting and pulling away from the car. There are so many reasons a dog might feel anxious about car journeys – whether they associate it with the dreaded vets or feeling a bit sick – so try to take some trips purely for fun to the beach or park. That way you’ll begin to build positive associations.
KEEP YOUR HOUND SAFE AND SOUND.
Protect your pooch by securing them in place with a harness, guard or crate. That way they’ll be restrained if you have to make a sudden stop. It’ll also help to keep them out of the driver’s way, and avoid distractions while you’re on the move.
GET YOUR CAR AND CANINE ACQUAINTED.
It’s a good idea to introduce car travel gently, and as early on as possible.
You can start by simply acquainting your dog, or puppy, with the car itself. Encourage them to have a good sniff and get familiar with your vehicle’s scent. A tasty reward for their nose work will help build positive associations with the car.
Once they’re au fait, you can start out with a few short journeys. Use treats to encourage positive reinforcement along the journey. Top tip: torn up pieces of boiled chicken make for a healthy alternative to biscuits – but the most important thing is that your dog enjoys their reward.
START OUT WITH A FEW SHORT JOURNEYS. USE TASTY TREATS TO ENCOURAGE POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT ALONG THE JOURNEY.
Watch out for signs of over-stimulation and stress. Wagging tails and panting can be signs of both excitement and anxiety, so it can be hard to tell. Other negative tellers are excessive yawning, tucked tails and wide ‘whale’ eyes.
TAKE A BREAK TO AVOID BARFING.
Car sickness is common with lots of dogs, and can be a stressful part of travelling (and for owners who have to clean it up, too).
Look out for signs your dog is feeling sick while on the road. If they’re drooling, whining, and retching, then stop and take a break. If their sickly habits continue, then stick to shorter stints in the car.
HYDRATE TO FEEL GREAT.
Car journeys can be thirsty work. Which is why you’ll want to make sure your dog has access to clean, fresh water. There are lots of portable bowls on the market that are designed to reduce spillage and help avoid soggy puddles.
Hungry for more? Fetch more helpful tips on our Dog’s Hub, and read about our recommended dog car accessories.