Travelling With Dogs: Road Trips
I spent years travelling with dogs on road trips – we explored the length and breadth of Argentina when we lived there. There are certain, essential items it really helps to keep in your vehicle if you travel anywhere with dogs. Nowadays, even though our car journeys are short, I still keep some of those same items in my car. They’ve saved me in a jam many times…
Essential Travel Items For Dogs In Cars
1 Harness & Seatbelt Socket Connector
If, like my fur-boy, your dog chews through seat belts as if they were made of paper, I advise you to invest in chain seatbelt connectors. Believe me, though they are much pricier than standard fabric lead connectors, they are far cheaper than having to replace the entire rear seatbelt system, twice! Not only did my boy chew through 2 seatbelts, he also chomped several leads. If it wasn’t made of metal, he destroyed it – use a metal chain clipped to the seatbelt socket and save yourself a lot of bother!
I use the same harnesses for walking the dogs as I do to keep them safe when they’re in the car: wherever the dogs go, the harnesses go too. Invest in the best harness you can: make sure they fit properly and don’t restrict their shoulder movement.
It’s always good to have some water with you – you never know when you might need some, whether it’s for the dogs or not. Make sure you replace it regularly though – no one wants to drink icky old water.
3 Bowl for food / water
I’ve tried every type of dog travel bowl over the years. My preference is for an expandable silicone version: they’re easy to clean and take up no space in the travel bag.
Recently though, I’ve been using a water bottle that has a built-in bowl. There’s no wastage, as any unused water can be poured back into the bottle. It can be hooked on to a backpack for when we go walking too. It doesn’t double up as a food bowl, but it’s more than adequate for water.
4 Leads and Clips / Stakes
As well as their normal lead for walks, I also keep a longer lead that I can use to clip to the vehicle, or alternatively, stake out – this gives the beasties the chance to roam a little further but stay safe. Of course, having a Houdini dog that chomps through leads is a risk – I have to keep a close eye on him to make sure he’s not chewing through it. I’ve used a chain in the past but it’s heavy – also, I hate the imagery of a dog tethered up on a chain. It is way safer than losing him if he chews through a lead though.
I don’t use extendable leads – they can be lethal if the spring mechanism breaks and the lead suddenly whooshes back at you. The lead itself however is still very useful – cut it off the extender housing, sew or rivet the loose end into a handle loop, and it makes an excellent long lead.
A favourite toy is an essential item to keep with you – you might find yourself spending more time than imagined somewhere and need something to occupy your pup. It’s also pretty handy to have something to distract them and aid recall in certain situations. In my case, a squeaky toy does the trick – for you it might be a tennis ball or frisbee.
6 Poo Bags
If you’re like me, you’ll find poo bags tucked away in most of your pockets, as well as in every handbag. You never want to get caught out though. Keep a healthy stash in the car too.
Maybe it’s for wet paws after a walk somewhere muddy, or to dry them off after a quick dip in a stream – a towel will always come in handy.
8 Pet Wet Wipes
Normal wet wipes for people aren’t the best for our pooches – they don’t have the right PH balance. Get some wet wipes that are made for pets and you’ll find them perfect for a thousand and one uses
9 Dry Shampoo
Shoo, fox poo! When your little angel finds something really revolting to roll in, you’ll be glad of some dry dog shampoo to wipe him or her down before driving back home. I have a wipe on / wipe off mousse version that works very well – it doesn’t leave them too wet and makes them smell better.
Dog Travel Essentials:
Extras That Will Come In Handy
I no longer keep dog food in the car since our journeys are short these days. I do have treats though. Where I lived before, I always had food in the car because I used to rescue dogs quite often. Sometimes a scared and abandoned dog on the side of the highway would come more calmly and safely when offered a bit of food.
Paperwork And Other Legal Requirements
Depending on where you live, you might not need to keep travel documents for your dog with you. Now I’m back in the UK, I don’t need to. However, I did need to have them with me when we lived in Argentina. You might also need a muzzle. If I plan a road trip to Europe with them though, I certainly will.
Winter Items: Blanket, Coat
You never know when your pup will come across a great big mucky puddle or stream out on a walk somewhere new. Unless you want them freezing to death in a wet coat in the car, keeping a spare dog coat and blanket in the car means you’re covered.
Summer Items: Cooling Jacket, Cooling Mats
It’s tragic that there are still cases every year of dogs left in cars in the heat of the sun. In just a few minutes, a car quickly heats up like an oven. However, even for us enlightened pet parents who wouldn’t do that, summer trips can still be too hot for our dogs. Be prepared and take some cooling jackets and / or mats with you for when it gets too hot.
You might also want to take a cooler and some super quick and easy-to make frozen treats for your pooch – get some recipe ideas here.
The Dangers Of Heads Out Of Windows
It seems to be a universal truth that dogs LOVE to stick their heads out of car windows. I admit that I let mine do this for years. Not anymore though, unless we are going down small, largely unused dirt tracks. On highways and around other vehicles, there is a risk that something might hit them – a stone thrown up from the car in front, or a large wing mirror on a passing vehicle, or dirt getting in your dog’s eyes. However much your dog loves its ears flapping in the wind, it’s not worth the risk.