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As my dog has gotten older, he’s become a bit more crotchety and particular about his routine (as we all do as we age!), so leaving him regularly with a dog-sitter just doesn’t work so well anymore. And since we recently bought a house in France, there are plenty of opportunities for road trips across the channel. So, #Moosethetravellingdog now comes on 80% of our holidays with us! Here are my tips for road-tripping with a dog:
You will become:
- Absolute legends at finding dog-friendly hotels (tips below)
- Pros at finding services with dog-exercise areas / parks near the highway
- Adept at using a travel water bottle for the dog!
You can read more about a recent road trip to France here
- Get a travel water bottle for your pup – you can squeeze water out of the bottle into a trough for the dog to drink. Moose is getting really good at doing this whilst we are driving (NB: let the passenger do the feeding, not the driver!) – although some dogs might find it an odd contraption!
- Put an upholstery protector in the back of your car. We put Moose’s bed in the back seat, as it is less bumpy than in the boot, and allows us to feed and water him while on the road.
- Always have your dog restrained in your vehicle! This isn’t law in every country, but it’s a good idea. We prefer to have the dog in the backseat, rather than in a cage in the boot, or behind a dog fence… so we use a dog seat-belt instead. You can get these in either harness style (for smaller dogs), or just a lead that plugs into the seat-belt facility. This will stop your dog flying through the front windscreen should you have to brake suddenly.
- Take advantage of services with garden areas, picnic areas, and parks near the highway (I use google maps to help find parks nearby). We also research these stops in advance. Regular stops for exercise and water will help to alleviate stress.
- Break up the journey if you can. While it’s not great to have to extend your journey anywhere other than your final destination, it makes for happier humans and dogs!
- When road-tripping to France from the UK, the channel tunnel has a dog exercise area and it’s only a short 30 minute ride in the Tunnel sous la Manche!
There are loads of hotels that allow dogs, but here are some things we do when booking to ensure it’s the right fit for us…
- When researching hotels, make sure you check the hotel website for the wording of their dog policy – if it’s full of words like ‘only well-behaved dogs’, and ‘not in food service areas’, avoid these places! Many hotels are fully dog-friendly and will love your pup as much as you do!
- Contact the hotel to make sure there is somewhere you can have dinner / breakfast with your dog in tow! In the UK, we usually look for hotels with pubs attached, as dogs are often welcome in the bar area and you can eat in the bar rather than the restaurant. Some hotel chains even have a special breakfast area for you to eat in the company of your pup! Luckily in France, dogs are welcome almost everywhere!
- Bring blankets and bedding so that you can minimise shedding over the hotel carpets and furniture.
Moose has his own suitcase, with blankets, food and water bowls, food pouches, a car fan (to keep him cool when we’re travelling too fast to have the window open), a window guard (for security), multiple lengths / types of lead, his adaptil calming spray, treats, and tennis balls. If only he could carry it himself 😉
If you are planning to travel extensively with your pet, you will need a pet passport. Your vet can help you out with this. You will need to do this well in advance of your trip, as the rabies vaccine has a lead-in time. If returning to the UK, you will also have to have your dog wormed more than 24hrs before returning, but less than 5 days (so research vets in the area of travel before you go!). Visit the govt or DEFRA websites to get up to date information.
Upon returning to the UK, you usually have to check in a bit earlier to go through pet-customs 😉
From Moose, the travelling dog, this is over and out! Happy and safe dog travels!
To see what a road trip is like from Moose’s perspective, read about our trip around Ireland here
All photos and content © Hannah Henderson and may not be used without permission (sharing this blog post is fine, though!). Images shot with an iPhone6s.