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Driving with your pooch: 8 tips all dog owners should know

calendar Published on: Tuesday, 14th August 2018 | female icon Author: Aminta Gagnon

Whether youíre off to a nearby park or beach for a walk or youíre travelling much further afield, your canine companion might join you on many car journeys. When youíre behind the wheel with your pooch as passenger, there are a few things you should keep in mind. To make your next car ride enjoyable from start to finish for both you and your furry friend, keep reading.

1. Pack the essentials

Before you get into the car with your dog, there are a few items you might want to pack. For example, accessories such as poop bags, a bowl, some water and a packet of treats are must haves for everyday journeys. You should also ensure you take your dogís collar and lead with you every time you travel anywhere in the car.

If youíre heading further afield with your canine friend in tow, it pays to be extra prepared. For longer journeys, you might want to take a comforting blanket for your dog to lay on to help them relax, and you may even want to pack a few of their favourite toys to keep them entertained.

In the event that your furry friend has an accident in the car, youíre going to want to be equipped with wipes and tissues, and you might also want to pick up an odour neutralising spray. These accessories could help make for a more pleasant journey, even if the worst happens.

2. Choose a place for your dog to sit

Although some dog owners give their pets free rein of the backseat or boot, allowing your pooch to roam around your car while youíre driving could be bad news for the safety of both you and them. It can be easy for your furry pal to distract you while youíre behind the wheel, which in turn could result in an accident. So if you can, you should choose a designated place for your dog to sit, ensuring that they are comfortable, secure and safe for the entire journey.

The good news is, there are a range of different options available to you when it comes to securing your pooch in your car. For example, many dog owners choose to keep their dogs protected in a crate, which is usually positioned in the boot of the vehicle.

However, if your car isnít big enough to accommodate this, or itís not a suitable option for your pet, you could choose to keep them on the backseat, using a specially designed harness which clicks in the seatbelt. This will mean your dog gets the use of the backseat but they wonít be able to join you upfront.

3. Protect the interior of your car

From muddy footprints, to clumps of hair, to claw scratches, your pooch has the potential to ruin the inside of your car. So, if youíre particularly proud of your motor and you want to keep it looking spick and span, it pays to protect the interior as best you can.

For instance, depending on where your dog is going to sit, you could place a cover on the backseat or in the boot. This will provide a barrier between the interior of your car and your pet, reducing the chances of any scuffs, scrapes and stains.

4. Always drive steadily

Unless they are used to being in the car on a regular basis, embarking on a long journey could be a little unnerving for your dog. It's important to be mindful of this, making sure that you drive safely and steadily. Driving too fast and abruptly, whether youíre on the motorway or winding country roads, could make your four-legged friend feel anxious - and it could even make them ill if they suffer with travel sickness. So, to keep their tail happily wagging until you reach your destination, you should make a conscious effort to drive carefully.

5. Provide some ventilation

During the journey, you should make sure your car is kept well ventilated. If itís too hot, your pooch could overheat and become uncomfortable, so make sure you crank up the air conditioning or partially open a window to let in a cool breeze.

6. Make regular pit stops

Especially if youíre taking your pooch on a particularly long car journey, itís important that you make regular pit stops. Like you, thereís no doubt your furry friend will appreciate the opportunity to stretch their legs, go to the loo and have a snack, so make sure you schedule time for this into your journey.

Ideally, you should stop about every two hours, and when you do, make sure that you keep your canine companion close by. You donít want them running off in an unfamiliar environment, so itís best to keep them on a lead at all times.

7. Never leave your dog alone in the car

Under no circumstances should you leave your dog alone in the car. Even if you know youíre not going to be gone for long, youíve parked in the shade and youíve opened the window, the temperature inside your vehicle can rise significantly in a matter of minutes, especially if itís a warm day outside.

These conditions can be detrimental to a dogís health, causing them distress, heatstroke or potentially much worse, so itís crucial that you donít leave them alone, even if itís ďjust for five minutesĒ.

8. Reward good behaviour

Once youíve arrived at your destination, donít forget to reward your pooch for their good behaviour. Showing your dog some love and affection after a particularly long journey should help make them stay relaxed and calm on future trips.

Regardless of whether youíre taking a short car ride or a long road trip, itís important that your pooch is happy, safe and comfortable. Simply keeping these tips in mind should make every journey an enjoyable one. Meanwhile, if you'd like tips on how to travel with kids, you can check out our road trip 101 for parents.


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