Excursions with our four-legged friends are one of life’s little joys. Sometimes, days out happen a little bit further afield, so you need to take a doggy road trip. For some pets (and their owners), this can be a stressful experience, so here are our tips on how to make long car journeys with your dog as enjoyable as they can be.

Make sure they’re safe and secure

Ensure your dog has a crate, harness, or hammock that is up to safety standards. If you’re using a crate in your back seat or boot, make sure that it’s tall enough for your pet to stand up comfortably, your pet doesn’t need to duck in order to see out, and that it’s big enough for your pet to turn around and lay down comfortably.

You may also want to use a harness over seat belts as harnesses pose less of a choking threat. And doggy hammocks look extremely comfortable – four legs or not!

Get your canine companion comfortable

Get your doggy used to the car in the time leading up to your trip. You can do this by letting your dog sit in the car whilst it’s stationary, taking your dog on short drives to fun and interesting places, and making the boot, the back seat, or the passenger seat safe and comfy.

This will help him/her get used to the doggy seatbelt or crate.

Tire them out

Taking your pooch for a long walk before you get in the car will make them a lot more calm (and sleepy!) Stretching their legs (playing fetch, chase, or anything else you can think of to get them running around outside) will spend some of their energy, getting rid of some anxiety and making it a lot easier for them to settle and snooze for at least some of the trip.

This will also make sure you don’t have any unexpected “accidents” whilst on the move.

Make sure you keep them hydrated

It’s easy for your furry friend to get dehydrated on long journeys – particularly if it’s a hot day. Even in the dead of winter, your dog can still get thirsty. Bring a dog bowl with you and make sure you have access to fresh water. You can get collapsible and portable dog bowls too, making it even more convenient.

Bring extra food and treats

One of the worst things that could happen on your trip is a long delay without food or water. Binging extra dog food and treats will make sure that you can keep your dog well-fed and happy, even if you’ve been stuck in traffic for hours.

Plenty of waste bags are also a good idea!

Bring something familiar that dogs love

To calm your dog on a potentially stressful journey, putting a familiar object near them may give them a bit of comfort. A blanket that smells like you or a favourite toy will do the trick here – it gives them something that reminds them of home or you to snuggle up to.

You could also consider giving them a bone or a treat-filled toy to distract them for the whole trip!

Take breaks

Travelling with your dog isn’t like travelling with another person. They can’t tell you when they need the loo, or when they want to take a break to stretch their legs or get some air.

Because of this, you should factor in lots of toilet breaks. A good rule of thumb is every hour to two hours, depending on how old your dog is and how used to long distance journeys they are. You should also let them relieve themselves as soon as you get to your destination.

Avoid busiest days like Christmas Eve

Traffic can turn your dream road trip into a nightmare. Maybe avoid the really busy days to keep your car trips as fun as possible for both you and your dog.

Leaving for a long trip on Christmas Eve might not be the best idea.

Be prepared

Overall, being prepared will stand you in good stead for long car rides with your doggy.

Make sure:

  • Your pet has tags with your phone number, address, or other contact details just in case they get lost
  • You keep it cool for your dog in the car with sunshades or the car’s air conditioning
  • You carry any medication for car sickness if your dog is prone to that
  • You pamper your pet. If you’re travelling with a small dog who doesn’t want to miss out on the view, you might consider getting them a pet booster seat. We’re totally serious.


Planning an awesome road trip with your four-legged friends? Check out our blog on the best driving routes in Devon.

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