We’re extremely fortunate that in Great Britain we’re truly blessed with the most awe-inspiring forests, woodland and open spaces. And, we’re never more then 70 miles from the sea. We’re continually encouraged to get out there and discover these wonders for ourselves in our spare time and during the holidays.

We wouldn’t dream of exploring new places without our dogs and what better way to unwind and bond, then to experience them together.

Sounds perfect right, but first of all we have to get there. For some dog owners this can be a daunting task, especially if it involves a long car journey with a dog that hasn’t travelled much. With some suitable planning the vast majority of dogs are able to overcome any issues to make car journeys safe, enjoyable and stress free for all.

Vue.Dog | Dog Photography | Car Travel With Dogs Advice

The Preparation

I often have clients that need to travel by car to my on-location dog photography sessions, so it's important that your dog thinks of car journeys as a rewarding experience and that there’s going to be something good at the final destination. If your dog has never travelled in the car or only been on very short trips, then it’s essential that you start planning for a longer journey weeks in advance of your scheduled holiday date.

Before acquainting your dog with the car take them for a quick walk to help purge some of their excess energy and encourage a toilet stop. Begin by calmly walking them around the car a few times. If you feel the need to talk then avoid raising your voice, instead speak softly and with composure. With the engine silent, go to your chosen dog zone within the vehicle and encourage your dog to jump in and sit there. Offer them a treat and peacefully stroke them. A good idea is to arrange for their favourite blanket to be there for them so there’s immediately something familiar to make them feel at home.

The next time, turn the engine on and go for a short drive to a nearby park. Concentrating on your driving will ensure little or no interaction, which is a good thing. Dogs take their cues from you. If you’re calm, quiet and ignore them they will settle down, just like we would! Gradually increase the distance of trips leading up to the holiday and they will come to associate the car as a means to an end with fun and good times as the payoff.

The Safety

If you don’t already have one, consider purchasing a dog seat belt. These belts connect directly to car safety belts and will keep dogs safe and secure in the event of an emergency. Even if your dog is a seasoned traveler, they should never have unrestrained freedom to roam around the interior space of any vehicle.

For cars large enough to create dog zones behind the rear seats, consider installing dog barriers to safely contain them whilst on the move.

Always make sure dogs are wearing their collars with ID tag and that you have their lead/s when considering a journey by car, just in case they decide to make a bolt for it at rest stops or at your destination.

The Journey

Like kids, dogs are more likely to sleep when tired and low on energy. Therefore, make sure you’ve scheduled a good half hour of vigorous activity for your dog before you all pile in to the car. It’s by far the most reliable tip for a stress free trip.

Some dogs can suffer from car sickness in the very same we do, so if you’re concerned that your dog may be a potential candidate, then make sure they’re not fed beforehand. It’s always a good idea to brings wipes and be prepared to stop if you see them looking a bit grouchy, unsettled, heaving and possibly whimpering. Always make sure there’s adequate ventilation as dogs can easily overheat and on hot days be prepared to increase the water stops. You need to make your dog’s comfort your priority.

If this is your first trip, then seeking advice from a vet is a good idea as they’re able to provide information about medications for motion sickness.

Plan to make regular stops and if at all possible don’t be too strict with your ETA.

The Destination

It’s all to easy to leave dogs in the car while you go and check things out, maybe unpack, but settling dogs in to their new environment should be your first priority. They’ll be super excited, on sensory overload and will want to explore and possibly go a little bit crazy. It’s important that they have the opportunity to let it all out, while on the lead of course.

Afterwards feed them something special to maintain their level of happiness and then introduce them to where they’ll be staying / sleeping. Really make an effort to ensure they’re part of the whole experience. Hopefully, there was space in your car for their basket and favourite toys.

Once your dog has settled in, and you’re safe in the knowledge that they’re happy and content, it’s now your time and you can unpack and get down to relaxing and enjoying your break.

Travel safe and have fun!