Tips for a road trip with your dog

With a little research and some planning, it’s possible to take your dog with you on most road trips. If you choose to travel with your dog, you will have to plan your trip around your pet’s needs, with regular stops, and a special focus on their safety.

“Before you leave for your road trip, buy your dog a sturdy collar and information disc with all your information, in case they get lost while on holiday,” advises Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions.

If you’re going on an adventure with your four-legged best friend, follow these eight tips to keep them safe and wagging their tails on the ride.

1. Buckle up

The safest way to travel with your dogs is to buckle them up. Secure them with special seatbelts, which you can buy from pet shops. If you need some guidance, chat to your vet about what suits their size the best.

2. Get a crate

A pet carrier or appropriate crate is best for small dogs so that they don’t run around. They’re also good for nervous or skittish dogs, who might feel more secure when they’re “contained”.

3. Build a barrier

If Fido or Rex want to ride up front or are missing you at the back, you don’t want them to jump on your lap or lick your face and distract you when you’re driving. You can get a barrier from a pet shop, which you can install to prevent your pooch from visiting the front of your car.

4. Take regular breaks

Just as humans need regular breaks on long drives, so do dogs. Give them some fresh air, take them for a walk on a leash, and give them some dog biscuits and water. 

5. Turn off the electric windows

Disable the electric windows at the back, as your dog could accidentally press the button and get caught in a closing window or jump out of a wide-open window.

6. Close the windows

Dogs love sticking their heads out the window, but rather keep them inside as foreign matter could get into the ears and eyes while driving. If you want to give them window time, rather do so briefly on quiet or slower roads where there are fewer cars flying past. Make sure that the open window isn’t wide enough for them to jump out.

7. Keep the cool

Monitor the temperature inside the car and make sure that it’s cool and comfortable.

8. Always give them access to water

Find a small bowl you can keep near your dog, maybe with a towel underneath, so your dog never has to feel thirsty.

9. Don’t forget to pack the basics

Pack some dog treats, their favourite ball or blanket if they have one, a leash, and plastic bags for cleaning up after them.

“Whenever you’re transporting precious cargo in your car, whether it’s your pet, kids, parents, or friends, you’ll want to ensure that your car can complete the journey safely,” says Smit. “Check when your next car service is due and schedule a service two weeks before your trip if necessary. If you invest in a Service Plan, the cost of the service would be covered by your monthly payments – which means your holiday budget remains untouched.”

With a Service Plan, all recommended services are taken care of by qualified professionals and offer a convenient way of budgeting with an affordable monthly payment plan. A Service Plan through MotorHappy also comes with free roadside assistance, towing, car hire or overnight accommodation, tyre change, locksmith and more.