Dogs are willing travellers provided they know what to expect and you are prepared. It’s best to familiarise a puppy early on with car travel, and there are a number of ways to make a journey safe and comfortable for your dog.
If you’re considering holidaying with your dog, many dog-friendly accommodation options exist to suit every taste and budget. Dog training holidays also provide a place where you can enjoy canine activities and sports with other dog lovers, under the guidance of a qualified trainer. If you’re thinking of travelling abroad with your dog, you will need to consider pet passports, vaccinations and any rules of travel.
Have a comfortable journey
- Ensure your dog has a check up with your vet if you are going on a long journey or are thinking about travelling via plane. Not all pets will be suited to all forms of transport – some may find it too stressful.
- Take a water bowl and enough bottles of water to last the journey. Dogs lose a considerable amount of body water through panting, so it is essential to offer fresh water frequently.
- Pack plenty of plastic bags for when your dog goes to the toilet. Cleaning up after your dog is a part of responsible dog ownership.
- Whether travelling by rail, boat or air, a dog carrier is an important accessory for your pet, and can also be useful in a car without a large, secure boot space. Consult the airline or train company about carrier size and type requirements, which may differ according to your dog's height and weight. If your dog has not already been acclimatised to a carrier, take several weeks to introduce the carrier before your trip. Leave it open and available, filled with soft bedding and an occasional hidden treat.
- Don't forget to arrange for your dog's comfort and safety during the stay at your final destination. If you are travelling abroad, some countries require a period of quarantine on arrival. Make sure your accommodation is dog-friendly and, if you are staying at someone else's home, check ahead about toilet facilities for your dog and the presence of other pets, which might affect your dog's behaviour.
Microchipping your dog is always a good idea, and even more so if you are going travelling. In fact, if you're going overseas under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), it's compulsory. Ask your vet for more details.
The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) is a British Government scheme administered by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) that allows people in the UK to take their dogs and cats to certain other countries and territories, and return with them to the UK without the need for quarantine, as long as their owner makes sure that particular conditions are met. These include the need to book your trip with an approved transport company, use an approved route, and for your pet to fulfil certain health-related criteria, such as up-to-date vaccinations and a recent blood-test.
Some countries have additional special conditions and documentation requirements that must be met before you enter.
The list of everything you need, including approved countries, companies and routes is updated quite frequently, so always check the DEFRA website at www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/pets/ well in advance of your trip for the latest information, or call the PETS Helpline on 0870 241 1710. We also recommend always asking your vet’s advice before booking a foreign trip with your dog.
Republic of Ireland residents can find out about travel regulations and requirements at http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/pets.
Leaving your dog at home
If your dog has a history of anxiety during confinement or travel, you should consider leaving him at home with a reliable dog sitter or in kennels. For advice to help you choose what’s best for you and your dog, see Dog sitting and day care.