Travelling with a dog is one of those things that almost inevitably comes with dog ownership.
Travelling can be hazardous, and stressful for the dog. For these reasons, you need to make sure that travel is kept safe and comfortable for your canine pal, or they may come to hate being in a car.
Travelling with a dog in a car
Like a lot of training when it comes to dogs, gentle exposure and acclimatisation to travelling in a car should help your dog become used to it.
Your dog should have been exposed to cars, either by you or the breeder, when they were a young puppy, during their socialisation. This exposure should mean that they are used to cars and accept them.
However, any dog can become travel sick, so make sure that they are comfortable, have room to move, preferably in a cage, and put down a blanket or covering on which it doesn’t matter if they are sick.
Starting with small journeys, you should keep your dog as comfortable as possible, try not to drive them soon after they have eaten, and only gradually increase the length of journeys if they seem to be coping.
Overheating is one of the major problems when it comes to dogs and cars. The insides of cars can heat up quickly, especially in the sun, and the majority of dogs have coats which also help to warm them up.
The combination of these can lead to major overheating and dehydration surprisingly quickly.
If you need to take a trip with your dog on a hot day, make sure you take enough water with you and take plenty of stops to let your dog out for a stretch and a drink.
It could be a good idea to take cold drinking water in a Thermos to make sure it stays cold on the trip, to ensure you can give your dog a refreshing drink.
Air conditioning likely won’t be enough to keep your dog cool in the summer. Sunlight can warm them up directly, and cause them issues. So if you are going out, make sure that your dog can get plenty of shade.
You should never leave a dog alone in a car for this reason, even with a window open, or even if you are going to be away for just a few minutes.
Keeping your dog safe and comfortable in the car
You should make sure that your car is big enough for your dog to have enough room and isn’t squashed.
Preferably, your car will have a big enough boot to hold a dog cage, that your dog can stay in. This will keep him or her safer, keep your car cleaner, and give them enough room to get comfortable.
If a cage isn’t possible, you should look into a canine harness or a canine guard. This will help keep them safe should there be a car accident or even if the driver has to brake sharply. After all, people wear seatbelts for a reason, why would a dog not need one?
Other forms of transport
Taking a dog on a train
Dogs are a diverse bunch of animals, and although you are allowed to take a dog on a train, the breed, size and behaviour of your dog may cause some issues.
If a dog is so large it takes up a seat space, you may have to pay for that space, particularly if it is a crowded train.
Train staff have the right to prevent a dog from getting on the train should they feel that it would cause disruption or safety risks to other passengers, and this decision is purely up to the train staff.
If you do take a dog on board a train, it must be on a lead at all times, except for if it is contained in a basket. If it is, it needs to have room to both lie down and stand up, to make sure that it is comfortable.
As with a car, hopefully your dog was socialised to trains when they were a puppy and are accepting of them. However, be prepared for your dog to feel ill while on a train.
Taking a dog on an aeroplane
Aeroplanes can be intimidating and frightening for a person, let alone for a dog.
The rules and regulations for taking your dog on board a flight vary from airline to airline, and so you need to read up on their policies before you buy your own ticket.
It is probable that you will have to purchase some form of reservation for your dog, and the airlines need to know beforehand.
You may be able to take a Toy dog in the passenger cabin with you, but if not, or if you have a larger dog, you will likely have to put them in the cargo hold. This will effectively check them in as luggage, but they will need to be inside an airline-approved pet carrier.
Even if you can take them in the cabin with you, they will need some form of pet carrier which can be safely stowed, and they will not be able to wander the aisles.
It is a big undertaking to take a dog on an aeroplane, and you may want to consider an alternative method of travelling with a dog.
However, if you need to go by plane, make sure to check the individual regulations of your airline, and make sure that you can abide by them, before you purchase your ticket.
Safety while out and about
While out and about, it is important to make sure that your dog is safe and you are prepared. In public places and near roads, dogs should not be let off the lead, they should have a collar with your contact details on them, and preferably be microchipped.
It would be a good idea to have a recent photo of your dog before going out on a big trip, so that it is more easily recognisable, and missing posters could be created with an up to date photo, should the worst happen and they become lost.