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Travelling with a dog: tips for a relaxing road trip

July 16, 2021

If you’re heading off for a staycation or some days out this summer, here’s four things to think about when travelling with a dog. 

1. Keeping your dog safe in the car

The first thing to think about is your dog’s safety when travelling. Just like you would make sure that babies and toddlers travel safely in a car seat, it’s important to apply the same rule to your dog. In fact, the Highway Code states that dogs ‘should be suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.’

There’s a range of equipment to choose from to keep your dog safe. This includes harnesses, dog guards or pet carriers, depending on the size of your dog. 

When buying travel equipment, check to see if it has been crash tested to properly assess its safety. This will give you peace of mind that that your dog – and passengers – are protected as much as possible in the event of an accident. Read this guide to dog car safety to find out more.

2. Planning your route

If you’re planning a long road trip with your dog, build in plenty of opportunities for your dog to go to the toilet and stretch their legs. 

Most motorway service stations don’t allow dogs inside but they often have designated dog walking areas and drinking bowls. 

Bear in mind that if you’re travelling alone with your dog, or want to stop for lunch, a motorway service station that doesn’t allow dogs might not be the best option. An alternative is to find a dog-friendly pub or restaurant to stop at instead.

3. Keeping your dog cool

Did you know that a dog’s body temperature heats up a lot faster than a human’s? This means that even if you’re  feeling comfortable in the heat, your dog probably isn’t. If you’re travelling with a dog in a car, here’s a few things you can do to help keep them cool: 

  • Switch on the air conditioning or open the windows to generate a flow of air.
  • Reduce the heat of the sun by putting sun screens in your windows.
  • Make sure your dog has plenty of water to keep them hydrated.
  • Get a cooling pad for your dog to sit on in the car or use a wet towel. This can help to absorb your dog’s body heat and cool them down. However cooling mats only stay cool for a while and need to be recharged after being used in the car. 
  • Make regular stops on longer journeys and spend some time in a shady spot.

4. Finding dog friendly places to visit

Increasingly, dogs are welcome in cafes, pubs, restaurants and some tourist attractions. But not all. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead to make sure that the places you intend to visit are dog friendly. 

If you’re planning a beach holiday, make sure you know which beaches are dog friendly and which are not. Most beaches are dog-friendly from October to March. However, some beaches are designated ‘no dog zones’ during the summer months. The good news is that there are still plenty of beaches that are dog-friendly all year round. Read more on how to plan your dog friendly holiday.

When visiting new areas, keep an eye out for signs that indicate a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPOs) where dogs might not be allowed or where certain conditions apply to dog owners. Read more about PSPOs and your legal responsibilities as a dog owner

Finally, here’s some useful resources to help you plan your dog friendly summer road trip: