The weather is getting warmer and plenty of bank holidays are on the way, including the special holiday for the coronation of King Charles III.
There is no better feeling than going away and taking a much-needed break in the great outdoors, and you won’t find a more eager companion to journey with than your beloved pup.
If you are hitting the road with your furry friend, the dog adventure specialists at Ruffwear have all the advice you need.
Here are their top tips for road-tripping with your dog – and how long they can stay in the car.
Create a packing list of everything you need for your dog
To make sure you have all of the essentials that your dog needs like their food and lead, Ruffwear have created the following packing list you can use for all of your road trips to make sure your pup has everything needed for their holiday:
Water and dog food
Water and food bowls
A few of their favourite toys
Dog waste bags
Towels for wet weather/swimming
Bed and extra blankets if they need them
Covers/towels to protect your vehicle from dirt
A weather-resistant jacket or other outdoor wear (if required)
Research the area you’re going to
By looking ahead for dog-friendly restaurants, pubs, and campsites, you’ll feel more organised and settled when it comes to your road trip. It’s also a good idea to look into some walks and hikes ahead of time to ensure you find somewhere suitable for your dog. Be mindful of the countryside code and aware that dogs must be on a lead in areas where livestock graze. AllTrails is a great app to use for discovering those things ahead of time and can make planning your road trip even more exciting.
Practice shorter car trips beforehand
If your dog has never been in a car before, it may be a good idea to keep the drive short as their first experience. Unfamiliar routes can bring unexpected bumpy roads and tight bends, especially around countryside areas. Some dogs may not respond to being in the car very well and could experience motion sickness or anxiety. So try some shorter practice runs before you embark on a long journey to help them build up.
Get the wiggles out before the journey
When you sit in a car for a few hours, you might end up feeling restless and wanting to stretch your legs. Well, it's exactly the same for our canine companions. Taking your dog for a good walk before you go on your road trip can really help to settle any nerves and encourage your dog to sleep throughout the journey making it a more pleasant experience for them.
Use treats to give your dog rewards on the way
There aren’t many dogs who will refuse treats, and this is a great way to build up positive reinforcement on being in the car. Build up confidence in the car with positive reinforcement and give your dog frequent treats. If you are able to, or someone else is in the car with you, toss your dog a treat every now and again to reassure them that they are okay.
Create a calming space in the car
The highway code states that ‘when in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars. It’s really important to make sure your dog is secured in your car, and you can help by making their space as calming as possible. You could place their dog bed in the boot of your vehicle, along with blankets and other items that have familiar smells from your home to help keep them calm and comfortable.
Leave no trace: Dispose of litter and waste properly
One of the big reasons we go on road trips is to explore the outdoors and everything nature has to offer, but we need to make sure that we’re doing our bit to reduce our impact on the environment. Picking up dog waste, disposing of any other litter correctly, and doing an extra check of your surroundings before you leave anywhere helps keep the countryside the place we all want it to be.
Take breaks along the way
Take regular stops if you are travelling far. Both you and your dog can take a break to stretch, sniff, and go to the bathroom. It’s a good opportunity to replenish their food and water, and it helps keep your dog comfortable and happy.
How long can dogs be on the road?
The dog adventure experts at Ruffwear explain that when it comes to road trips, it’s important to “consider your dog’s age, activity level, and stress response to car rides. If you have health concerns about your dog, we recommend checking with your vet. In the end, you know what’s best for you and your dog – and you can make unforgettable memories no matter the distance.
If you can only travel for an hour at a time to get to your destination, it's worth putting the extra stops in to make sure your dog is comfortable at all times. If your dog begins to show signs of stress such as excessive panting, displays of strange behaviour and shaking, it's likely that they don’t enjoy being in the car very much. In order to get your dog used to the car, we recommend taking them out for short trips at a time as young as possible. It can be more challenging for a dog who has been adopted to get used to cars if they are also older, as this isn’t something they’ve been used to their whole life, so it's important to pay attention to your dog and their individual needs.