Top tips for travelling with a dog in the car

Mini UK and Dogs Trust have released some guidance on travelling with a dog.

Dogs in cars
Dogs in cars

Dog ownership has soared over recent months, with the Pet Food Manufacturers Association reporting that one in three UK households now includes a dog. As a result, plenty of people will be travelling with dogs in the car, which brings with it a whole different set of challenges.

To help, Mini UK and dog welfare charity Dogs Trust have compiled five top tips for calmer journeys with dogs in the car. David George, Director of Mini UK, said: “With more dogs in families now than ever before, we’re really happy to be working with Dogs Trust to support our Mini- and dog-loving customers to help make sure they travel safely and enjoy the ride.”

Get your dog used to the car

Dogs in cars
It’s a good idea to get your dog used to the car before setting off on a longer trip

It’s a good idea to get your pet used to the car ‘as gently and as early on as possible’. It’s best to get this from the get-go and with plenty of time prior to you actually needing to travel in the car. Dogs having the benefit of choice around a new or scary experience helps to improve their confidence in the car long-term.It’s easy to get going, too. Encourage your dog or puppy to have a good sniff around the car’s exterior and interior, opening up the doors and boot to allow them to hop in and out as they like. Rewards for looking around the car can really help, too.

Keep an eye on body language

Dogs in cars
Dogs need plenty of space in order to be comfortable

It’s best to stay aware of how your dog is feeling when they’re looking around the car. Signs of distress can include shaking, panting and trying to pull away from the car. It’s why it’s so important to take things slowly – and try to take them on journeys initially that reinforce the point that the car is fun. Journeys for walks or to the beach or park show that getting into the car is rewarded with a positive experience at the end.Just watch out for signs of stress and, if they’re there, take a step back.

Keep your dog safe

You need to think about where your dog is going to stay in the car in order to keep them safe on the move. They’ll need to be secured with a harness or in a crate, or kept behind a dog guard in the boot.

This will make sure that they’re safe if you have to suddenly stop while preventing them from roaming around the cabin and potentially causing an accident.

Think about the three-point turn

Is your dog able to do a ‘three-point turn’ in the back of the car? They should be able to stand up, turn around comfortably and lie back down all within their space in the car.

Prepare snacks

It’s not just humans that enjoy the odd mid-journey snack. It’s a great idea to pack your dog’s favourite treats so that you can reward them at points during the trip, while a long-lasting chew could prove popular too.

Make sure you pack water too and offer it frequently to your dog

Mini is the sponsor of the upcoming DogFest Christmas event at Crystal Palace Park on Saturday, November 27. With Dogs Trust as the official charity partner, visitors will be able to see how their dogs get along with a Mini Clubman or visit the Mini Dogstacle course.

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