In well over a decade of providing information for dog owners on places to take their best friends on holidays and days out Dogpeople Limited has amassed a wealth of knowledge including of dogs on holidays and travelling with them. Much comes from the directors’ personal experience with their Airedale Terriers and Trixie (Alan’s previous Labrador / Keeshond cross). We’ve gleaned a lot of useful feedback from visitors to this site and, of course, our dog friendly holiday customers. Whilst much of this knowledge concerns what one might hope to find when staying in holiday accommodation (hotels, guest houses, holiday cottages or holiday parks), or visiting a pub or café etc., or on a day out, we can also offer some owner focussed tips about travelling with your dogs.
Ensure your dogs travel safely in their own space with a dog guard or, if travelling on the back seat, properly secured in a car harness. Dogs are as much at risk in an accident as people and shouldn’t be able to be thrown around if the car stops suddenly. A harness probably provides the best restraint but, on long journeys, your best pal will need to change positions so sitting and lying in the tailgate behind a mesh guard might suit them better. Ensuring your dog’s safety is common sense but is also a legal requirement. Rule 57 of The Highway Code requires “dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly”. The code mentions harnesses and guards as well as pet carriers and dog cages but doesn’t require them specifically. Some car’s design might be sufficient; for example, a hatchback with high back seats might stop your dogs escaping the boot especially if the passenger head restraints are raised. Whilst on the Highway Code, rule 56 is worth a mention too – “Do not let a dog out on the road on its own. Keep it on a short lead when walking on the pavement, road or path shared with cyclists or horse riders.” Take care when getting your dog from the tailgate so he doesn’t run off as soon as he’s out; Murphy is pretty good when told to “wait” until his lead is on.
If the weather is hot, try to travel at a cooler time of day and stop regularly for dog comfort breaks and drinks. Remember the air conditioning won’t be as effective in the back in many cars so, even if you are comfortable in the front, your dog may be getting hot in the back (especially if the Sun is on the back window). Opening a window for a bit can help move some of the cooler air to the back of the car. Consider it might be wise to stop more often than the people need as your dog is wearing a furry coat and might not be getting the full benefit of the air conditioning.
Sun shades for cars come in a variety of styles and costs. These are probably designed mainly with children in mind but do help reduce heating of the back seat area and tailgate. Alan has a basic set for the car Murphy travels in, but a more effective job can be achieved with model specific shades. This cheap addition really helps reduce the temperature on journeys and prevents it building up too quickly when the car is parked.
If the car has been standing in the Sun for a long time the temperature inside will be much higher than ambient air outside. Take a while to air the car before asking the dogs to jump in. Even a couple of minutes with all the doors open can make a big difference. Obviously, if you can park in shade whilst you go for a walk or visit an attraction that will help. We find a dog blanket draped over the car on the sunny side and trapped in the car doors provides internal shade and helps a great deal.
Remember to take water and a drinking bowl for long journeys, walks and days out; especially in hot weather.
Never leave the dogs in a car on a sunny day even with windows partially open. Never leave them for more than a few minutes even when the Sun isn’t bright.
Research dog friendly places to visit and places to eat before you travel. We recommend choosing a dog friendly pub or cafe on your route where you know the dogs can stretch their legs and do what a dog ‘has to do’. Even we have had to use motorway service stations on some journeys but picking a place both you and your dog can enjoy a proper rest and refreshment is so much better. If you have time why not make the best of a stop and visit a dog friendly heritage site; many of them have a cafe or shop too. If your holiday journey is very long it might be best to break it with an overnight stay, a dog friendly B&B or hotel could make the journey a much better experience for you and your canine companions.
On a more general level, many responsible owners probably don’t know the law relating to the welfare of animals including pet dogs. The legislation is wide ranging and has provisions on the transport of pets. DeFRA made regulations under the act – The Animal Welfare Act 2006 – and published guidance leaflets on topics to help understanding of its requirements. Unfortunately, the document on transporting pets was withdrawn in 2015 and, as far as we know, has not been replaced. Whilst our thoughts above do not have the force of law we hope they helps a bit!
Look out for a future blog post on The Animal Welfare Act 2006.