How to travel with dogs

Southern are sorry to announce…

The least suprising “event” each day: “Southern are sorry to announce that…” The great words that proceed the announcement that your train service has been cancelled. Again.

I wonder if the lady who recorded that particular announcement voiceover realised how many times a day her track would be played? By now it surely must be worthy of best hits treatment. It’s certainly more familiar to me than Lady Gaga.

Given this high uncertainty, it was pretty easy to rule out taking the dogs on a long distance train journey this weekend. So instead we’ve decided to drive.

The question is, what do you do with 2 dogs on a 5+ hour car journey? My preparatory thoughts below. I’ll give you an update (if we return) on how it went.

Dog travel plan

Taking two dogs on a 5 hour car journey is new for me, so I’ve done some thinking and come up with the following ideas.

1. Plan some walking breaks a short distance from motorway exits

Stopping at motorway services for short and depressing on-lead walks around a car-park is not going to keep your canine pals happy. However with smart use of Google Maps you can scope out good walking locations easily accessible from your route. Limited detours and a good break for 4-legged and 2-legged passengers alike.

For our upcoming trip, I estimated where we would be be around lunch time and then scanned around Google Maps for green looking spots. I found an interesting looking spot using Google Maps right next to an A1 exit. Further inspection revealed this to be Twyford Wood, a Forestry Commission woodland site. We’re going to break our trip there. (Let’s hope it’s not haunted!).

2. Stop somewhere before your final destination to “unwind” your dogs

Our trip involves renting a cottage. My pooches get very excitable when they’ve been in a car for an extended period, and they are liable to zoom around, bark and act crazy on reaching their final destination. This isn’t good when task one at said final destination is to collect keys for your rented property, with the owner getting increasing worried that your crazy dogs are going to destroy their house!

So we are going to try stopping close by and running the dogs around, before loading them back into the car and doing the final short hop to the accommodation. Hopefully this will allow us to present a better behaved and less excitable pack. We are using the same Google Maps strategy to find a suitable spot.


3. Pack plenty of water

It’s summer, and dogs get hot quickly. There’s nothing worse than sitting in the back of a car panting. We’ve got a little hamster like water dispenser so they can drink directly in the back of the car. Alternatively taking a bowl and stopping periodically to refill it from a bottle is a good idea.

To take this to the extreme, you could even bring a whole paddling pool.

A dog paddling pool may be overkill!

4. Don’t argue!

Squabbling over directions is pretty common in our household. But dogs get very stressed when the pack leaders seem to be fighting. Crammed in the back for a long car journey and out of their usual environment, this could get them very anxious.

5. Don’t forget some poo bags

Whether an in-car accident (unlikely) or car-sickness (more likely), or a quick out of car emergency, you’ll want to be able to do rapid clean up. People say its best not to feed dogs large amount before travelling as many are susceptible to motion sickness. The same goes for treats while moving.

6. Bring dog toys for the trip (just not squeaky ones)

When you are flying, the airline provides movies and entertainment: so give some to your 4 legged friends too! Also worth bringing their favourite bed or blanket to help them relax.

That’s my plan!

So that’s it. I’ll let you know how it goes! ¬†Hopefully the dog tolerate the trip, they appear sane to the people we are renting the cottage from, and everyone generally enjoys themselves!