Travelling with your pup can be hugely fun! With proper preparation, including your little one in your holidays and adventures is enjoyable for you and your pup. Whether you’re venturing off to far flung lands, or travelling a few hours down the motorway in the UK, there are a few things to consider before taking off on your travels.
Ensure your pup has a secure collar with id tag on at all times, it is a legal requirement for dogs to have some form of identification around their neck. Also, ensure your pup is microchipped with the information correct and up to date. You will need to think about how your puppy is travelling, you could invest in a safety harness designed for the car, with a seat belt clip. Alternatively, you could use a crate/carrier for your pup, making sure it is tethered/attached to something secure within the vehicle. Make sure the sleeping area has a comfy bed inside, preferably one from home which is used regularly by your pup. It may seem rather obvious, but ensure your pup has access to fresh drinking water at all times.
You may want to provide toys/treats/chews etc for the journey. It’s best to make sure these are fairly durable and long-lasting, you don’t want to have to keep checking for wear and tear of the toys/chews and any potential swallowing hazards! It’s always a good idea when travelling anywhere to take a couple of spare leads/collars, just in case any are chewed by your pup or you lose one.
We want to ensure we build up exposure to any new environment positively and gradually, so make early experiences fun, enjoyable and short. We are aiming to gradually habituate your pup to this strange new place, to us it’s just a vehicle but to our pups it’s something very large and new! You could try possibly feeding your pup in the vehicle a few times, really trying to build up positive associations. You could also do a few small training sessions in there too, working on some calming behaviours such as ‘downs’ or ‘wait’s. Fairly passive behaviours which encourage settling are best, nothing which creates excitement or raises arousal levels. Try not to do too many training sessions, just a couple, we don’t want our pup thinking we just get fun training sessions in the vehicle and annoying you when travelling for more training fun!
You could sit in the vehicle with your pup a few times prior to travelling anywhere, encouraging calm behaviours. For example, give your pup a stuffed kong in his crate/pen whilst you read for a while, thereby rewarding him for settling in the vehicle and amusing himself in an appropriate way. You could extend this further and even sleep in the vehicle at night a couple of times if you wish! (I’m thinking of caravans or motorhomes!) Make sure your pup is aware of where his bed area is, make sure he is comfortable with it, and this may really help him settle down when it comes to long travels.
If possible, try to do a couple of short journeys in the vehicle prior to your long journey, this can really help your pup acclimatise to the motion of the vehicle and the movement. Car sickness in pups is quite common, however by doing lots of short regular journeys, making sure breaking/accelerating and corners are done ‘gently’, you can really help calm the sickness down. Most pups do grow out of it fairly quickly, but if in doubt, do ask your vet who may be able to provide anti-sickness medications. You could consider some ‘calming’ aids, such as an adaptil collar or some rescue remedy drops for your pups water. If you feel your pup is finding the process unsettling these may help him relax.
Some top tips to remember when travelling with your puppy!
- Plan your rest stops prior to travelling– where, when and how often you will be letting pup out for the toilet and walk/sniff etc
- Check and make a note of the local vets in the area you are going to, including the nearest 24 hour emergency vet, and possibly a few along the way too
- Take your pups medical records with you including vaccination history
- Invest in a dog first aid kit (lots of pet shops will sell these, or amazon online)
- Consider buying a long tether/peg for the ground, dependent on where you’re going, ensuring your pup can’t run off whilst away!
- If you have a particularly small pup, you could consider a ramp for easy access in/out of the vehicle
As with any new environment we aim for our pups exposure to be positive and enjoyable. Try not to expect your pup to immediately settle in a new and strange environment without a little pre-planning and habituation!