Travelling is great fun, but can be a bit tricky with a dog in the mix. We love visiting new places, and are frequent travellers to the mainland, whether it’s just for the day or for a long weekend. Of course, Oscar and Henry come along for the ride (we wouldn’t have it any other way), and that can make it a little tricky. But don’t worry! We wanted to share with you our top tips so whether you are travelling in a car, a train, or even a boat, you and your doggo will have a fun and easy travelling experience.
There are a few tips that can be applied to any journey, and we highly recommend following them to make your life so much easier!
Check for pet-friendly services beforehand
This is must-do. One of the most irritating things is going somewhere that has no cafes, restaurants, or shops that allow dogs. If you travelled with another human you could alternate between waiting outside with your dog whilst the other browses the stores, but that’s not really fun for anyone involved! Neither is it fun for your dog if you tie them up outside the building. Doing your research beforehand will just make it 10 times less stressful and you won’t be wasting half the day trying to find somewhere pet-friendly. If you are staying the night, don’t forget to check the hotel/B&B allows dogs. You don’t want to wait to find out when you get there!
Closest Vet, Microchips, and Pet Insurance
If you are planning on going away for a few days, making a point to search for the nearest vet in the area is a good idea in case anything were to happen to your doggo. They might eat something they shouldn’t—like a plant or a bit of stray food on the floor—and grow ill. Therefore, making sure you have pet insurance is also a good thing to have in case your dog needs some medical assistance.
Microchips are extremely handy as they hold your information in case your doggo gets lost. Just like children, dogs are inquisitive and might wander off—especially if they are off-lead. The vet is a typical place lost dogs are bought to if they don’t have a collar with the owner’s contact information. Oscar and Henry don’t have collars as we prefer harnesses—which Oscar can sometimes magically wiggle his way out of—so having them microchipped can come in handy with one of Oscar’s magic tricks!
The microchip is injected just under the skin, causing no pain to your doggo at all, so with one quick scan, a vet can get your contact details and notify you of where to pick them up.
Be Cautious of Off-Lead
Even if your dog is amazingly behaved, is friendly with other dogs and humans, and doesn’t run off, being in a new environment can alter their behaviour. As mentioned above, dogs are naturally inquisitive, so putting them in a new environment with new smells and objects can be a bit of a sensory overload, and your doggo will want to explore everything. If your dog has a nervous disposition, it can stress them out and make them anxious—so the stranger coming up to them for a little head-petting (which would typically be fine) is now not welcomed, potentially causing your dog to lash out.
It’s best to walk your dog around the area and let them get used to it before letting them off-lead. A less populated area will also help to keep them calm and prevent them from running off to inspect the strangers.
Training & Scooby Snacks
This is a great help for travelling to distract your doggo and provide positive reinforcement. Giving your dog a treat when they are being good teaches them to associate their actions with positivity (the treat). This is also a great tip for training in general. So if your doggo wants another treat, they know all they have to do is continue doing what they are doing.
Positive reinforcement with words is also a good way to keep your doggo behaving. A “good boy” paired with a nice ear rub each time they do what they are told, works almost as well as a treat.
With training—especially a doggo that has never travelled in a car/train before—you should introduce them to it in short bursts. Start with walking them around the car so they can get used to it and letting them sit inside. You may have to do this several times until they are comfortable, but it makes life a lot easier in the long run.
Signs of unhappiness in dogs
Unlike Scooby Doo, our doggos can’t actually talk to us and tell us what’s wrong, but they communicate in other ways—body language. Here is a list of things to look out for as sure signs of stress and anxiety with your dog. If they are exhibiting a few of these signs then you should monitor them closely and consider removing them from the situation as soon as possible. Be careful when bringing them around other people as well as yourself, as they can become a little unpredictable if they feel anxious and might lash out.
- Excessive panting
- Tail tucked
- Vocalisation (whining or barking)
- Licking lips
- Excessive yawning
- Ears pulled back
- Excessive show of whites of eyes
- Paw raising and sweaty paws
- Chewing on the lead (stress reliever)
- Displacement behaviour (distracting themselves with things they wouldn’t normally do ex: sniffing and scratching things)
We hope you find this information useful and your doggo learns to enjoy travelling! No matter where your travelling adventures take you, we hope it’s now a stress-free experience for everyone involved.
Read our other blog posts on Dog-friendly travel:
- Travelling by boat with your dog
- Travelling in the car with your dog – COMING SOON
- Train etiquette for dog owners – COMING SOON