This week we have a guest blog from Jess Ward, a Zoologist working with whale conservation charity Whale Wise in Iceland. Jess shares her top tips for travelling with your dog, something lots of us will be doing over the summer holidays! Over to you, Jess…
Our dogs: our children, our best friends, our support animals… and so much more. Growing up, we would take our Labrador, Bonnie, on all our holidays in the UK. We would spend summers on dog-friendly Cornish beaches, follow her up Mount Snowdon in Wales and fall asleep in tents in the New Forest, all with her by our side. She kept us warm and, without her, our holidays were incomplete. In fact, we mostly travelled in the UK so that she could come with us. I’ll always have wonderful memories of our family holidays together. So today I will run through five tips for travelling with your dog, so that you too can seize the world with your four-legged loved ones by your side! You won’t regret it.
We all need water right? Just like many of us humans with our hydroflasks and water bottles always at the ready, dogs need similar! So whether it’s a long car journey (toilet breaks also necessary) or a big day trip, make sure you have a portable water bowl and some bottles of water set aside for your perfect pooch!
Nobody likes a tick. Ticks are small arachnids that feed on mammalian blood, and it’s common for ourselves and our dogs to find ticks on our skin, especially after a walk in long grass. Ticks often carry disease, so it’s important to check your dogs after long walks. If you do find a tick (a small black body attached to the skin), don’t worry! Whenever you travel, carry a tick remover. These are very small and easy to use, hooking onto the body so the entire tick can be removed with a simple twist. They can be bought in most vet practices, pet shops and online.
Travelling can be stressful for anyone. It’s a new environment, away from home and out of your comfort zone. I always advise making the experience as ‘homely’ as possible for your dog. Perhaps it’s a favourite toy that can be taken for the ride, or some snacks (always used to work on our Labrador!) Whatever it is that makes your dog feel calm, it’s a great idea to incorporate that into the travel routine where possible! It’s also important not to leave him or her alone for long (especially in a new place). This can be highly stressful. Stay with your dog throughout the journey. After all, you’re the number one source of comfort.
On a more practical note: prior research! My Dad used to always tell me, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. As my somewhat ‘leave-everything-to-the-last-minute’ younger self, I tried to argue against this but, on reflection, he was totally right. Be sure to research where you’re travelling to. Is it dog-friendly? For example, restaurants, hotels, beaches? Nowadays, there are so many places that welcome dogs, which is brilliant to see. How long is the journey? Moreover, if you’re travelling abroad (perhaps a long-term relocation) make sure you’ve done adequate preparation, making sure vaccine records are complete and checking on quarantine rules etc.
Lastly, of course we want to keep our beloved dogs safe and out of harm’s way. Make sure that their microchip is up-to-date and that they have a collar with your contact details. Of course, you know your own dog and, even though it may be unlikely that they run away or get lost, new environments can sometimes spook them. In a new place, they’re less likely to be found by a trusted neighbour. In any case, it is better to be safe when it comes to our dogs.
And there we have it; some tips for travelling with our four-legged friends. I promise you, it’s totally worth it, and the chances are, they’ll enjoy it too! I know our Bonnie did, very much so.
After all, it doesn’t matter where you’re going: it’s who you have beside you.
Bonnie on the beach! Cornwall, England.