Ensure a safe and pleasant journey by taking these safety precautions.

General Travel Trips

  • No matter what your mode of travel, the single best safe practice you can employ to keep your dog safe during the journey is to keep him restrained.  See below for details of adequate restraints. 
  •  It is a legal requirement that your have an identification tag on your dog.  Make sure this is up-to-date with your details.   Even better, have your dog microchipped, which provides a permanent form of I.D. to help ensure he is returned to you if he becomes lost.  Again make sure this is up-to-date with your details.  It often gets forgotten when people move home. 
  •  Carry a recent photograph of your dog to make it easier for others to help you look for him if he gets lost during the trip.
  •  If your dog is prone to motion sickness, consult with your veterinarian about using medication for your dog appropriate for the particular type of travel you will take.
  •  Feed your pet his usual meal one to two hours before travel. (If your dog is prone to motion sickness, feed him two to four hours before travel.) Do not leave him with food or water during travel as it may spill, forcing him to lie in a mess during the trip.  Dogs can go 8 hours without water, but he should be allowed a small drink when stopping.

Travel in Cars, Vans and Trucks

© Cohdra / Image From Morguefile

  • No matter how long or short the journey, your dog should be restrained. An unrestrained dog is dangerous to himself and others.  He can become a flying projectile that can injure you, your passengers or himself.  It is a requirement of the highway code that animals are secured for travelling: click here for further details.  
  • When in a vehicle make sure dogs are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or them, if you stop quickly. Secure your dog in the back seat (dogs riding in the front seat can be seriously hurt if the airbags deploy) with a pet travel safety harness or car seat, or in a pet carrier fastened to a seatbelt. If you drive a 4x4, Estate or People Carrier, install a pet barrier to keep the dog in the back area of the vehicle as well as securing him in his harness and attaching it to the hooks in the floor.  Some dogs are happier secured in a covered crate and others secured where they can see out of the windows.  If you have leather or vinyl seats make sure you cover it will a blanket or dog bed so your dog doesn't slip and lose his footing.  If you must transport your dog in the bed of a pickup truck or van, use a crate or carrier secured to the truck bed to prevent him from being thrown into traffic at a sudden stop/ across the van.
  • Do not allow your dog to ride with his head out the window. Road debris and other flying objects can injure his eyes.
  • Before you set out on your journey and after arriving at your destination, give your dog plenty of exercise. This will help him be more relaxed and able to acclimate to his new surroundings.
  • When stopping for a break and before you open the car door, attach a lead to your dog’s collar so he can’t escape. Even the most obedient pet can become disoriented when travelling. Always use a lead to walk your dog.
  • On a long car ride, stop every four hours or so to allow your dog to relieve himself (be sure to clean up after him), stretch his legs; refresh himself with a small drink of water.  This will also help him understand that he’s going to another environment.
  • Watch for temperature extremes. Your car is like an oven under the blazing sun and a freezer in the bitter cold. 

Tips for overcoming fear (or over excitement) of travelling in a car 

From a dog’s point of view, travelling in any vehicle is strange and often frightening.  It can be really difficult to persuade them that car, bus or train travel is safe! If your dogs doesn't like travelling in a car, try the following program to help your dog overcome his fear.     

  • Choose a period of time when you are able to avoid taking your dog anywhere in the car for a few weeks.  Start by teaching your dog to be comfortable in the car while it is stationary.  Do not put on a car harness or in a car crate.  Give your dog several tasty treats or a chew while you sit there or play with a favourite toy that you will keep now just for the car.  Repeat this step once or twice a day for a week or so or until your dog seems completely comfortable and doesn’t show any signs of stress.   Then start the engine and leave it running while you go through the same process of treats/toys/games for another week or so.   
  • When your dog willingly jumps into the car and seems relaxed with the engine running, just move the car out of the driveway/up the road for a very short distance. Stop and with the engine still running, give your dog a few treats or have a quick play session.  Drive back up the driveway/up the road and end the session.  Stay at this level until your dog appears totally relaxed, whether the car is moving or stationary before starting to use your dogs harness or enclosing them behind a barrier/in a crate and continuing to drive very short distances followed by treats and playtime. 
  • Now gradually increase the distance you travel, adding five minutes of time in the car every few days.  Schedule your practice car trips for times of the day when your dog is well exercised and likely to feel calm. Make sure he hasn’t eaten for at least three hours so that he is less likely to feel or be sick. 
  • As your dog builds up a tolerance to the car trips add in fun places to go, for example, the park, lake, friends and family.  You could speed up this process by driving your car nearer to a fun place to go.  Walk home to get your dog and then walk back to your car and simply drive a shorter distance to a great place for your dog.   
  • Once your dog is comfortable with short car rides, take him for drives on a dual carriageway or motorway. The continuous motion, uninterrupted by stops and starts, makes most dogs sleepy. This effect will help promote further relaxation of your dog in the car.

This same process can be used with dogs that get over excited when travelling in a car, but in this scenario you will be rewarding calm quiet behaviour.  This is best done with treats and praise, rather than a game as this will excite your dog.  You will need to do numerous journeys that do not end anywhere specific for your dog so that he will eventually stop equating a car journey with fun and getting over-excited as a result.

In both cases make sure you stay calm and do not punish your dog for fear or over-excitement.  This will simply make the problem worse.      

Airline or Train Travel

  • he will go in the cabin with you or in the cargo hold, your dog will need to travel in an airline (or train) approved carrier. Check the airline (or train line) website for requirements.
  •  If your pet will travel as cargo, check for restrictions on any health/immunization and other requirements.  Click here for details of government legislation and requirements, for example, pet passports, before planning to take your dog abroad.
  •  Use direct flights to avoid mix-ups during transfers or the possibility of delays in getting your pet off the plane. Ask the airline if you can watch your pet being loaded and unloaded into the cargo hold.
  • Upon arrival at your destination, open the carrier as soon as you are in a safe place, and then clip a lead on your dog so you can safely examine him. If anything seems wrong, get him to a veterinarian right away.

A happy, well-socialized dog that knows you will always be there to keep him safe and secure will enjoy travelling to new places with you. 

 For expert professional help with your dogs travelling issues

Call Freephone 0808 100 4071


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