7 Tips for Safe Holiday Travel with Your Dog
The holidays are coming and despite COVID-19, 58% of you report in our SpotOn Holiday Travel Survey that you are still planning to travel for either Thanksgiving or the December holidays. Because your dog is part of your family, 75% of you traveling plan to bring your dog along. If you have just gotten your pandemic pup this past year, you might not have had a chance to travel with him or her yet. Now is the time to get prepared to have a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are our top tips for holiday travel.
Make sure your dog is
road trip ready.
If your dog has not traveled much in the car yet, don’t wait until the big trip to introduce them to it. Car travel can be stressful for pets and if you are planning to drive for a few hours it’s time to get Fido used to the car. Start by taking short trips, adding time to each trip building up to your expected driving length. Plan something fun at your destination, like the dog park or a hiking trail, to teach your dog that car trips mean fun. Be sure to give your dog lots of praise and talk to him in a pleasant but not overly excited voice while driving. Carve out a spot for him – whether in the back seat or cargo area – that he can feel secure and safe. You can also reinforce positive associations by giving your dog a treat, special bone, or favorite toy when they get in the car.
Double Check Dog IDs and Microchips.
Pets can get scared easily in a new environment and may run off. Rest areas and roadside stops are especially busy during this heavy travel period, so make sure you have a leash handy AND your pup is wearing his collar and id tag at all times. If your dog isn’t micro-chipped, consider having it done. Also be sure that you have registered with a service! If you have not registered the microchip, it’s impossible for people to find you. You could also consider having your dog wear his SpotOn System. If you have cellular tracking enabled you could track your dog if he escapes.
Photo by @gunnerkennels
Consider Containing or Restraining Your Dog.
Dogs loose in your vehicle can cause distracted driving by trying to climb on you or getting into things that cause you to lose focus. Also unrestrained dogs, like humans, will be thrown in the case of an accident either hitting you as a destructive projectile or injuring the animal. The safest way to travel is either to contain your dog in a dog crate or restrain them with a dog seatbelt, which is typically a harness connected to your car’s seatbelt system. Be sure to select a crash-tested version. Gunner Kennel offers amazing, high quality crates. Sleepypod is the go-to for crash tested dog harnesses.
Always bring water.
Your dog needs to stay hydrated like you do. Also, dogs are likely to be nervous in the car and pant quite a lot, losing hydration. Be sure to bring a water bottle and water bowl. You should stop every hour or so for water and bathroom breaks. It’s not advised to use tap water in various locations because it could upset an already uneasy stomach given that different tap water has different bacteria. Fill up an old gallon jug with your home tap water and bring it along. Kong has a H2O Stainless Water Bottle that holds 24 ounces of water and has an attached dog water bowl for convenience. You can even drink out of the top!
Keep all Heads & Paws Inside the Vehicle.
We know your pup like to ride with his head out the window, but it’s really not safe. In addition to potentially being hit by objects hanging down to the road or flying debris, your dog can also breathe in particles, exhaust fumes, and pollution that can cause pneumonia or lung disease. They can also get particles in their eyes causing infections or scratches. So crack the window a little to give your pup some air, but restrain them so they cannot hang out the window.
Watch out for holiday hazards.
Once you arrive at your destination, be sure to assess the possible hazards, particularly if your hosts don’t have a dog themselves. If you have a chewer, do a quick check for potential targets. Shiny ornaments and tinsel are attractive to pets and they could pull the whole tree down on them not to mention ruin grandma’s most sentimental Christmas ornament. Tinsel is particularly hazardous leading to vomiting and dehydration. Poinsettias are also poisonous to dogs, be sure to set them out of reach. Also, be sure to check for unsecured food and give your holiday hosts a quick run-through of what your pup can and cannot eat.
Find a Safe Running Space
At your destination, scout out the best running space and set up a perimeter using SpotOn. Remember to leave a 15 foot distance from any hazard so GPS shift won’t allow your dog into an unsafe area. Go through a quick training showing your dog the boundaries by getting them close enough to hear the warning tones. Based on past training, they should instinctively move away if they hear the tones. If you haven’t made a map in a while, review our map set up video.
Did we miss something else pup parents need to know about traveling with their dog for the holidays? If so, tell us in the comments. We would love to hear your ideas!
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