With the coronavirus pandemic bringing many travel plans to a halt this year, you're probably itching to have the opportunity to finally get away and travel to somewhere that isn't your own four walls.
After all, there is only so much time you can spend in the same area without getting itchy feet – we all, dogs included, have a fundamental need to get away and see new things.
Fortunately, with the roadmap out of lockdown becoming clear, that opportunity could be around the corner sooner than you might think. As such, it could be time to get planning.
Before you do though, there are a few must-dos to consider when it comes to planning your ideal pooch-friendly road trip to make it as enjoyable as possible for you and your pet.
With this in mind, we thought we'd compile a quick step-by-step guide to not only highlight how to organize your post-lockdown trip but give you some top tips for when you’re out on the road as well.
Location, Location, Location
The first thing you need to do when it comes to planning your pooch-packed road trip is deciding on where you actually want to go.
While you may have dreams of travelling abroad – hiring an SUV to drive around Europe – the chances are that you may need to put them on hold for the time being, at least until there is more information about where you can and can’t travel to from the UK.
Therefore, opting to ‘staycation’ could be a much better alternative – utilizing the UK’s must-see cities, towns and landmarks to organize your road trip.
If you’re looking to utilize your dog’s sense of adventure, for example, exploring Wales’ various national parks, South Ireland’s coastline or Scotland’s highlands could be a great option. Taking your dog on new and exciting walks will be great to stimulate them after being in the same area for so long, but each dog has different fitness levels so it’s a good idea to check out the dog walks beforehand, allowing you to plan the safest and most appropriate route for your pooch.
Alternatively, if you’d rather travel somewhere for more of a city break, you need to make sure this accommodates your dog! Whether this be a dog-friendly pub, restaurant or hotel, check beforehand that you and your pet are both more than welcome.
In addition, if you’re planning to go on some long, muddy walks, make sure you’ve packed a portable water bottle, and a dog bowl to hand as you don’t want either of you to feel dehydrated. To avoid muddy mayhem, store a towel or paw cleaner ready in the boot.
Step Two: Prepare Your Car for your Pup
Once you have settled on the location, you then need to make sure that your car is actually up to the job of getting you and your pooch there.
It is important to consider your dog’s needs and plan ahead for them. They may well feel more anxious in the car now than pre-lockdown as it’s likely they won’t have travelled in a while. To combat any anxiety and motion sickness there are a few things you can do: have some treats handy, keep the temperature in the car cool, and exercise your dog 20 minutes before the journey to reduce stress. These simple things can really help to make the journey more pleasant and relaxed for your dog.
Moreover, you can put some positive incentives in the car, such as their favorite toys and blankets, to make them excited about the road trip and reinforce the idea that this will be a fun experience.
You must consider how you can keep everyone (your dog included) comfortable throughout your journey by setting up your car well-enough in advance. Plus, you’ll need to account for the room your dog will take up – including their crate.
Depending on how still your dog is in the car, it may be worth investing in some doggy seat belts for extra safety, or even a guard to put in the boot so they don’t try to get in the front whilst you're driving. Safety is the most important thing, after all!
Once you have decided on your location, and set up your car for the journey, the fun can then begin.
After you get on the road, think about breaking up the journey with necessary breaks to keep your dog more relaxed and let them out frequently so you can both stretch your legs. It’s also good to keep air flowing throughout the vehicle and have the windows down during your journey to help keep your pooch calm.
In essence, the more planning you can do before your trip, the more seamless it’ll be when you’re actually on it. Plus, it’ll help ensure you have more time to truly enjoy your pets’ company.