1. Get them used to the idea
Most dogs love travelling in cars but if you have a puppy or dog that is unused to car travel, then start out with short trips close to home. Choose places they'll enjoy like the beach or a park where they can run around. If they associate car travel with 'fun' they'll be keen for longer trips.
2. Research dog-friendly areas
Many dog lovers assume their pooch will be welcome anywhere but sadly that's not the case. Do your research before you go to find dog-friendly and off-leash parks and beaches so you're not caught out.
3. Health checks are a good idea
Planning safe car travel for dogs means making sure they're healthy before the trip. Keep up-to-date with vaccinations and flea treatments, and if your dog is due for a vet check-up, make sure you take them before you introduce them to new friend at a new park. A constantly scratching or sick dog isn't a happy dog.
4. What if they get lost?
Dogs aren't always predictable, especially if they spot a rabbit or get a whiff of an interesting smell. Though you can't guarantee they won't wander off, you can make it easier for them to be found by keeping their ID tag on their collar up-to-date. They should be microchipped too (the law since July 2006) which will hopefully result in their speedy return.
5. Pack doggie gear
Just like humans, dogs need travel items to help them feel comfortable while travelling and at your destination. At the very least you should bring along their bed, blanket, food bowl, water, leash and disposable poop bags. Other items, like a favourite toy or chew stick, may help your dog feel more at ease and take their mind off motion sickness. If you're planning on taking them to a beach or lake, pack some quick dry towels so they don't drench your car seats.
6. Dog safety harness
When you're driving with dogs you need to keep them safe. Travelling in the car with your dog on your lap or on the backseat without a dog safety harness is dangerous if you happen to slam on the brakes. A dog harness simply clips into an existing seat belt holder and keeps your dog in place so they can't run around distracting passengers and the driver. Ensure dog safety when travelling by buckling them in.
7. Secure dog carrier
A secure dog carrier or crate is a good alternative for puppies or small dogs that may slip out of a dog safety harness. They can also be used for any kind of dogs that are prone to pacing about and panting. A dog carrier or crate can be made of metal, plastic or fabric, sit on your back seat and be fastened with a seatbelt. They ensure safe car travel for dogs on longer trips. You don't have to worry about your seat fabric being drooled on or scratched up either!
8. Don't feed, hydrate!
Avoid travelling in cars with dogs that have just been fed as the motion could result in them feeling or being sick, so only feed them an hour or two before you go. If it's hot then they're likely to become dehydrated so make sure they have access to water (you can buy non-spill dog water bowls for cars) - panting a lot is a sure sign they're trying to cool down.
9. No hot dogs in parked cars please
Sadly, many dogs die because they're left alone in hot cars - this is a no-no. Even if the family is just nipping to a cafe for lunch, don't leave your dog alone in your car with the windows cracked. It's better to take your dog with you and tie them up outside the cafe or take a packed lunch and stop at a rest area instead.
10. Take regular breaks
If your dog has steadily been lapping water throughout the trip he or she will need regular toilet stops. Try to give your dog a toilet stop and a quick walk every hour you're on the road so they can relieve themselves and stretch their legs.
Follow these tips for safe car travel with your dog and you'll arrive at your destination with a much happier and relaxed pooch!