Are you planning a trip and you still don’t know what to do with your dog? They are clearly an important member of the family and it is logical that we want to take them everywhere with us, but we must always be aware that they also have to enjoy the experience.
Before making the decision it’s important that we ask ourselves a couple of questions:
Will the journey be fun for my dog? Take into account whether you will be able to take them out with you and spend time with them or, on the contrary, whether you will have to leave them on their own for long periods of time while you are at the beach, visiting a museum or at a restaurant.
Is my dog in good health? If your dog suffers from a serious illness or needs regular check-ups by the vet, altering their routine is not the best option for a leisure trip.
Is your dog scared of anything or do they get nervous in certain situations? Dogs with fears or insecurities can become very stressed during a trip or when there is a drastic change in routine. They may show unwanted behaviour, especially when they come face to face with situations they aren’t prepared for.
What will you need to take your dog on a trip?
Plan your days and excursions: If you have decided to take your dog on the trip with you the next thing you must do is plan the excursions or day trips you are going to go on. Are dogs allowed in all the places you want to visit? Are you going to have to leave your dog alone at any point? Remember that it is very important, even though you are on a trip, that you maintain your dog’s daily routine (food, rest time, walks and games).
Go to the vet: It is a good idea to go to the vet a few weeks before setting out on your journey. A good health check to confirm that your dog is in full form and also confirmation that all necessary vaccines and deparasitations are up to date. Up to date microchips and vaccine records or passports are necessary when travelling with your dog, whether you are travelling by plane, boat train or car, you must always take them with you. It’s not a bad idea to also let your vet know where you are travelling to and ask them if any extra protection against parasites is necessary as well as advice about how to prepare a good doggy first aid kit for emergencies.
Get your dog used to dog carriers: On the majority of transport means, dogs must travel in a dog carrier. Dedicate some time before the journey to get your dog used to it. Don’t force it on them the day of the trip or your dog will be nervous during the whole journey. Try to start giving them their dinner or some treats in the carrier daily, they will associate good things with being in the carrier.
Make a doggy suitcase: Make a list of everything you think your dog is going to need during the time you are away. A good doggy suitcase must include a bed or blanket that they can sleep on, a towel, enough food for the whole time you are away and their bowls. As well as their usual collar or harness and lead, it may be worth packing spares in case they get lost. Don’t forget their favourite game!
Put an identity tag on their collar or harness, taking into account that if you go abroad the phone number should have 0044 in front so that you can be located when your dog is found.
Which means of transport are we going to take for the journey?
As we said earlier, for some dogs a trip can be a stressful situation, but when the trip is on transport that also does not take care of the conditions in which our dogs travel, this can be a truly traumatic experience. Unfortunately, at the moment, the majority of transport companies don’t make enough effort when it comes to improving the travel conditions for our dogs so that they are the best they can be. In some cases they even put the lives of our companions in danger.
Car travel with dogs
This is the mode of transport most recommended for travelling with a dog and, except in certain cases, the mode that causes the least stress and problems for our dogs.
So that the trip is a positive experience for your dog, remember to keep the car air-conditioned for him or her before the journey: in the case that they are going in the boot and not in a carrier, put a good blanket down for them and make sure that the dog guard is adequately tightened before leaving. In the case that he or she is travelling on the back seat, they must be strapped in with a seat belt attached to their harness or separated from the driver by a guard. Remember that, especially in the summer, you must have good parasols installed and never leave them shut in the car, you can put their life at risk.
Make enough stops during the trip for your dog to have a drink of water, do what they need to do and stretch their legs a bit. There are many service stations or areas to pull over on all roads where you can let your dog out to play or simply let them walk around and sniff around for a while.
In the case that your dog is having problems or is travel sick in the car, consult a vet about what medication can help make the journey more tolerable for them. It is also interesting trying out natural remedies such as Adaptil, Thundershirt or Calming Cap.
Travelling by plane with a dog
Travelling by plane isn’t the nicest or most recommended experience for a dog, especially when they go in the hold.
Moreover, not all airlines allow pets on their flights. The first thing we must do when it comes to planning our travels by plane if we want to take our dogs with us is get in touch with the airline we are intending to fly with and let them know that we want to fly with a dog. They will let you know their conditions.
Take into account that you will have to pay for a ticket for your dog, whether they fly in the hold or in the cabin, and that the number of dogs that can fly on the same flight is limited. For this reason you should book tickets with enough time in advance.
Some smaller dogs may be allowed in the cabin but you will have to check with your airline. On the website of each airline there is a section that will tell you about conditions and rates to fly with dogs, it is important to have a look at this before choosing the airline.
Travelling by boat with a dog
For those who are travelling to one of the many Isles off the coast of Britain, to France, to the north of Spain, etc. and you want to avoid the plane, there is the possibility of travelling by boat with your dog. Almost all shipping lines have air-conditioned cages on the boat and some will even let your dog travel in their own carrier. If there are no cages available, your dog will have to travel in your car. You can take the dog out to stretch its legs in designated doggy areas.
To get on the boat, your dog should be on the lead and wear a muzzle at all times. They should have been vaccinated against rabies 21 days previously, have been administered tapeworm treatment by a vet and have a valid DEFRA approved pet passport. The company staff will accompany you to the cages where you can leave your dog and, depending on the type of vessel and the duration of the journey, you may be able to go and see them at some point during the crossing.
It is important to take into account that your dog, just like you, can easily get sea sick on the boat. Consult your vet about which medications they can take so that the journey is as pleasant as it can possibly be.
If you need more information about the conditions concerning the transport of dogs on boats, shipping companies also have a section on their website that you can visit.
Travelling by train with a dog
Travelling by train with dogs is allowed within the UK provided they do not endanger or inconvenience passengers or staff and they are kept on a lead at all times unless contained in an enclosed basket, cage or pet carrier. Animals and containers must also not occupy seats, otherwise a charge will be made.
Without a doubt, transport companies have a long way to go when it comes to optimising travelling conditions for dogs and their owners, which currently cause fear and confusion. If you think that your dog won’t enjoy the travel experience don’t worry, at Gudog we have validated dog sitters all over the UK that will take take of them when you are away.
If, on the other hand, you think that your pooch will enjoy this journey but you are going to have to leave them alone at some point, we recommend finding a dog sitter that offers Doggy Day Care wherever you are so that they can also enjoy going on walks, playing games and having human contact during the time you are out.