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Have an epic road trip with your dog

The open road in front of you and your furry friend by your side — it doesn’t get much better. But car travel with your dog can be stressful. Here’s what you need to know to keep your dog safe and happy on your next road trip.

Microchip matters

Your dog should be microchipped. If not, make sure you organise that before you hit the road. And if your pooch is already microchipped, check the details to make sure your correct contact details are noted.

Get a harness for the car

An unrestrained dog in a car can become a projectile if involved in an accident, leading to tragedy. While rules and guidelines vary between States and Territories, in New South Wales please visit the NSW Roads and Maritime website for an outline of guidelines.

Have a few practice runs

Not all dogs love car rides and may have negative associations with car travel. If you’re not sure how your dog will handle a car ride, it’s best to get them used to the car slowly. Start with sitting in the car, give them a few treats and let them out again. Gradually introduce short distances and try to incorporate a positive experience into the journey for them, such as a trip to the dog park.

Helping anxious pets

Some dogs may get anxious or suffer with nausea (just like motion sickness some humans experience). If this is the case with your dog, speak to your vet about any tips or prescription medication that may help.

Have a doggy first aid kit

A dog first aid kit is designed to care for your pet in an emergency. You can buy them online or make one up yourself. Some useful things to include in a dog first aid kit include:

  • bandages and scissors
  • gloves
  • gauze swabs
  • micropore tape
  • saline flushes
  • thermal blanket
  • tick protection

Teach your dog to ‘go’ on command

Ok, this is a tricky one if your dog is already a bit older and past the toilet training stage. But teaching your dog a command, like “toilet” can go a long way to speed up breaks. It can also help your dog to “go” in an unfamiliar environment.

Pack their essentials

From the necessary to the familiar things that help keep your dog feeling safe and soothed, here are some of the things you should pack:

  • their regular food and treats
  • enough water and a water bowl
  • any medications
  • poop bags
  • a dog bed and blanket
  • an extra leash and collar
  • toys to play with, like a ball or frisbee

Research your destinations before you get there

This includes your pitstops along the way. While Australia is a dog friendly country, there are lots of places you are not allowed to take your furry companion to, such as many National Parks.

It’s also important to choose pet friendly accommodations before stopping for the night. Many campgrounds, caravan parks and hotels do allow dogs, but they have rules you’ll need to follow.

When you arrive at your destination make sure to check for hazards too. Things like insecure fences, chemicals or poisons can turn a holiday into a stressful nightmare, so make sure your furry friend won’t be able to get into any mischief and will stay safe.

Take lots of breaks

Just like humans need to rest, revive, survive, so do your pooches. Make sure you give your dog lots of opportunities to stretch their legs and take a toilet break. Regular stops also give them the opportunity to burn off some energy before they get back in the car too.