Planning a road trip is always so exciting and even more so if you are going to take your furry friend on holiday with you.
The question remains, "Will I find a place that is Pet Friendly, and how will I be able to make it work for both of us on a promising fun-filled holiday?"
Here are some handy tips, which will help you, to plan the trip:
1. The destination:
Does your host know that you are bringing your dog?
If you are going to go to friends or family, it is important to notify them that you are bringing along your pet/s. Alternatively, if it's going to be a paid-for venue like a guest house or hotel, is it a Pet-Friendly Venue? If yes, specify the type of breed and the size of the animal prior to arrival to help your host cater to your needs.
Are there other animals?
Once you have confirmed that you can take your pets with you, find out what other animals will also be there, and respect their property.
Going out with your pets:
Knowing in advance if there are Pet-Friendly Restaurants in the area, will help too. It's not only essential to find a nice pet-friendly location, but also pet-friendly places to go when you get there.
2. Keeping your pets safe
Car Training for pets
Car training is like potty training for children - the best time to start training them for the car is the moment you get your new pet.
Potty Training for the trip
Start by ensuring that they have already done "their business" before the journey. Learn to listen to telltale signs of them wanting to do their business. Often, due to being overexcited, dogs will make noises or become restless in the car to indicate that they need to "go".
Then take them with you on short drives. If they happen to always get overexcited about car rides, try to break the habit that a car ride means: a trip to the dog park or a walk on the beach. By doing so, you can take them to 'not so fun places' such as taking them with you to the mall.
Always park your car undercover, and be very quick because dogs can get bored fast - especially puppies moreover could destroy the inside of your car. Never park your car in the sun, and leave your dog in the vehicle, not even for 5 minutes.
During the ride, are they safe inside the car?
Keep your pets secured in the vehicle to avoid any unexpected behaviour when driving. Protect them from running around in the car, or worse, finding a gap in the open window.
Remaining calm while your pet is in the car should help them to calm down too.
A permanent leash is safer
Start by leashing the dog inside the car to prevent them from moving around further than their body space. The leash must be long enough so that they can be comfortable when start to relax. Find a safe place inside the car to secure the leash to. Having your pets leashed at all times, during stops and when you get to your destination, makes it easier to control them during any situation.
There are options to reduce stress during the drive
Unwinding music is a wonderful sound to the soul. If the pet is stressed out, soothing music tones will encourage them to relax and start to get used to unfamiliar environments.
Light sedatives are available over the counter and work extremely well for anxious pets. Inexperienced pets or those who do not adjust well to riding in a vehicle requires some additional attention. Consult your veterinarian about sedative options to calm your pet down throughout the trip.
3. Pet Identification
There is probably nothing worse for a pet owner (and their pet) if the dog goes missing while on holiday. You can help them moreover provide them with a voice in the event of them becoming lost or stolen.
Microchip your pet
Responsible pet ownership starts with a microchip. It is that simple.
If you know that your pets are microchipped, check that their records are up to date with the microchipping organisation. You might have relocated or changed your phone number which indicates that their microchip data necessitates being updated. Take your pets to the vet for a scan, and then contact the microchip company to verify that all the details correspond with your latest information.
Pet Collar and Name Tag
Does your pet have a collar and a name tag? There is no way you should even consider leaving home without updated identification collars and tags. Need we say more?
4. Crate Training
When you plan to do an extended road-trip, the best place is to keep your pet is in a crate big enough for them to stand in and turn around in. Be sure that you have done the necessary training for them to be comfortable in a crate before you start the journey.
During an emergency or accident
Should you have an accident, it is so critical that your dog or cat does not escape the car and run away - as this could cause countless hours or days of heartache and concern having to search for an already too traumatised animal.
Car Comfort & Sun Protection
Having a comfortable seat in the car is as important for you as it is for your animals on a long road trip. Start by assigning them a location inside the car that will be theirs for the remainder of the drive. Once you have earmarked them a place, the next best is to place a memory foam sponge in the car. These are usually easy to find at a foam mattress company and you can cut and bend it perfectly to the shape of the interior of your car (or the crate if you are going that route). Cover the mattress with a fitted sheet or large pillow cover, and add their newly washed doggie blankets on top of the covers. By making this a permanent place for them during the road trip, everyone will appreciate it, I promise you.
The final step for you is to secure a sun-shield onto the window to shield them from the hot sun.
5. Pet Food and water
These tips might appear very basic, but it will help considerably toward everyone to experience a good holiday.
Own Water & Food Bowls
They will feel more 'at home' if you feed them in their own bowls.
Small feeds during the trip
Try to avoid feeding your pet before the road trip.
Give your pet some biscuits or their favourite snack in-between the drive. Make sure you offer your pets' water at least every 2 hours on the road.
Safe Places for a Pit-stop
Its always good to find a quick dirt or farm road (drive a short distance into) so that your leashed pet can safely get out, stretch their legs and do their business while sipping water and get a much-needed leg stretch.
Regular Feeding Times
Feed them at the regular feeding times, and if this is not possible, try to do it as close to those times as you can.
6. Medical Care for your Pets.
Ensure that you have the details of the veterinarian in the area which you are travelling to. Save this information on a piece of paper inside the medical aid kit for your pet and on your phone before you depart from home.
7. Pet Bedding
Some of our pets like to sit on our laps, some do not. But when it comes to our sleeping arrangements, we all know very well what a comfortable pillow can do for a good night's sleep. This is the time for you to recognise that our pets need to have 'their own space' at all times - at home and even more so while away on holiday. Remember that all the new smells and sounds are particularly difficult for their delicate hearing and smell senses.
In the car
This we have covered in point 4 above.
Who needs a good night's sleep?
After a long drive in the car, everyone is keen to settle down at your holiday destination. A restless pet will spoil it for everyone, and just like our children, our pets also need to comfortable, else we will not enjoy our well deserved holiday break. They will spend the nights being restless, scratching, barking or whining to communicate their discomfort.
Home away from home
By taking along their own bedding that they are familiar with and used to, will help your pets to become familiar in their new surroundings while you are on holiday. Upon arrival, consider giving them their favourite chew toy to keep them occupied while they learn to unwind.
On or off the furniture?
If you allow your pets to sleep on the bed with you, make sure that you have made a prior arrangement with the venue owner.
8. Tell us about your vacation.
Now that you have discovered some essential but very important suggestions to keep in mind for your next pet-friendly holiday, could you write to us and tell us about your experience?
We would love to hear from you and how your pet-friendly vacation turned out.