Driving with your dog. Many of us are adventuring further afield from our usual dog walking routes and travelling to new places now that spring is in the air! Some dogs love the car but others have had limited experiences (or simply don’t like it). As with humans, they’re all different. So today, we thought we’d share 4 of our Top Tips for driving with your dog. From important preparation, to safety advice and making it an enjoyable experience for all the family! So grab your keys, beep your horn and hop on board…!!
TOP TIP 1 – PREPARATION IS KEY
Whether your dog is a seasoned traveller or not, preparing them for a car journey should start before they even enter your car. If you’re travelling after breakfast or dinner, make sure your dog is given plenty of time to digest their meal. Many dogs suffer from car sickness so eating just before a journey could spell disaster for your car upholstery!
It’s also really important your dog has a positive association with the car…if they’re sick, it could make them nervous about future journeys too. Make sure your dog has had a little toilet break before they hop in the car too. It’s important for your dog to feel comfortable before embarking on any kind of journey – they can’t ask “are we there yet?!”
If your dog doesn’t travel in the car regularly, consider trying some shorter journeys to start with. Build up their confidence and make sure you end up somewhere fun each time (rather than just when you go to the Vet!) This will help your dog associate the car with fun times.
If it’s a longer journey, head out for a lovely walk together first. This will help your dog relax in the car afterwards, as they’ll need a well deserved nap after running around!
Cars can become hot and cold very quickly. This can have a real impact on your dogs body temperature which may make them stressed. So before you set off on your journey, make sure your car is at a suitable temperature to accommodate your dog. If it’s cold, maybe consider a warm blanket which they can snuggle into (a familiar smell may also help keep them calm). Likewise, in sunnier weather, pop the air conditioning on for a bit first! Also consider using window shades like many parents do for children. It also goes without saying you should NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A CAR UNACCOMPANIED, especially in hot or cold weather.
TOP TIP 2 – SAFETY FIRST!
You wouldn’t drive your car without wearing a seat belt and the same safety equivalent should be in place to protect your dog too. Rule 57 of 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.”
Thankfully there are so many options on the market now, there’s really no excuse when driving with your dog. Options include a specialist booster seat with a secure and carefully fitted harness. Or why not use a crate / boot guard to ensure your dog is safely contained, should the worst happen. However they’re restrained, you can still make it comfortable for them by adding blankets and perhaps a favourite toy. Always introduce them to their safety restraint gradually and in a positive way.
TOP TIP 3 – ESSENTIALS FOR EVERY JOURNEY
When driving with your dog, always ensure you carry some fresh water in your car. This may be useful for your dog after they’ve been on a fun walk and they need to quench their thirst. It’s especially important if you have a long journey ahead of you as safe scheduled rest stops will be needed. It’s also important to expect the unexpected so be prepared for a dreaded traffic jam!
Water is particularly important as dogs don’t have the ability to sweat like us humans. So if they find travelling stressful, it’s likely they will pant more (their equivalent of sweating). The result is they often become pretty thirsty in the process! There are lots of special dog travel bowls available on the market to help prevent this. When embarking on a long journey, make sure you plan plenty of safe opportunities to allow your dog to have a drink and relieve him/herself and stretch their legs.
TOP 4 – CALMING A VERY NERVOUS DOG
If you know your dog becomes stressed during car journeys, you may wish to consider giving a dose of our Scullcap & Valerian Tablets the night before AND on the morning of your journey. Topping up with Valerian Compound 30 minutes before you leave and adding a few drops to your dog’s favourite blanket could help.
Bringing a favourite toy or blanket, with a smell which your dog will recognise, can also help calm your dog. Just ensure it’s large enough so nothing can be chewed / swallowed unexpectedly; it’s important your eyes are focused on the road!
Try to refrain from having your car radio on too loud too! Dog’s ears are more sensitive than humans so excess noise in a confined space could cause some anxiety. However, some quieter Classical Music could help mute some of the outside noises, as external noises may also cause some stress. The aim of any journey is to try to create a calm space inside your car. You’ll know what is most suitable for your four-legged friend.
DRIVING WITH YOUR DOG
With so many more dog-friendly opportunities available, it’s likely you’ll be driving with your dog more often to explore them all! Hopefully the above tips will prove useful. Do you and your dog have any exciting upcoming journeys? We’d love to know where you’re heading to! Pop us a comment below so we can turn green with the envy!
Find out more about Dorwest Herbs and our herbal remedies for dogs to improve their general health. If you have any questions about the best ways to ensure your dog gets the best diet, one of our experienced advisors would be happy to help. Please get in touch on 01308 897272 or use our contact form. Plus, get free UK delivery on orders over £50.
Please remember, you should always consult a vet if you are concerned about your pet’s health.