4 top tips for keeping your dog safe on a long car journey

We’re lucky enough to welcome our guests from all over the UK, which can sometimes mean a long journey… If you’re off on an East Ruston Cottages holiday soon, it’s important to remember how stressful travelling can be for your dog. In this article, Kathryn Eccles from pet and equestrian suppliers Millbry Hill offers her advice for travelling long distances with your pet in the car.

Brits have fully embraced the staycation — a word derived from “stay” and “vacation”, meaning to holiday here in the UK rather than travel to another country. In fact, staycation bookings are up by a third (Travel Weekly), and it’s easy to see why. Staycations are a lot cheaper than holidaying abroad, and we have so many beautiful areas here in our home country like Cornwall, the Lake District, the North Yorkshire Moors and of course, Norfolk! That are ripe for exploring.

But, best of all, a staycation, combined with dog-friendly accommodation means we can easily bring along our pets so that no one in the family has to miss out on the fun. If you’re planning on driving to Norfolk from a different area of the country this summer, here’s what you need to do to keep your pets safe along the way.


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1. Start preparing your pet early

If your pets are very young or they’re not used to car journeys, its best to begin training them as soon as possible in preparation for your journey. Restless animals can distract you and cause accidents, so you should only set off if you’re confident that they’ll behave.

Untrained animals may jump about, cry, or get sick when you’re on the move, so getting them used to the motion is important. Take them for plenty of short, slow drives to somewhere nice that they enjoy prior to your trip, like a nearby park or beach, and they’ll begin to associate the car with positive experiences.

2. Pack an essential kit for your pet

As well as your family’s bags and suitcases, you’ll need to make sure you’ve packed for your dog too. Essential items to bring with you include plenty of water, travel bowls, poo bags, a bed or cage, and things for them to eat. But, an emergency supply of spare leads, a towel, and a pet first aid kit can also come in handy during your trip.

Before you go, make sure any dogs are fitted with a collar and an ID tag clearly stating your name and address. Not only is this the law when in a public place, but it also means they can be returned to you safely if they get lost. Some of the owners at East Ruston Cottages provide holiday dog tags for their guests which makes life even easier and safer when you’re away from home.


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3. Follow road safety laws

Did you know it is now illegal in the UK to travel with an unrestrained animal in your car, including dogs? Pets should be secured with a seatbelt clip or harness, or be confined within a carrier, crate, or — for extra-large animals — gates, so make sure your vehicle is fully fitted with the appropriate restraints before you set off on your holiday. If your pet is going to ride in the car rather than the boot, it should always be restricted to the back seat away from airbags that can hurt them.

While these rules might be annoying to your pet, they keep both of you safe on the road and prevent devastating accidents from occurring.

4. Take plenty of breaks

Long car journeys can make us all hungry, thirsty, and uncomfortable, and it’s no different for your dog. Don’t forget to take plenty of breaks so they can stretch their legs and have a run around, a drink, and something to eat. Not only will this keep them healthy, but they’ll be happier and better behaved throughout the rest of the journey too.

Remember: never, ever leave your pet in the car unattended. Temperatures can soar and the worst can happen, even within the few minutes it takes for you to pop inside and get a coffee, so don’t take the risk. Even when you’re driving, the temperature inside a car can quickly get uncomfortable so you might want to consider window shades or turning up the AC to keep everyone happy.

If you are going to open a window to cool down your car, just crack it open a small amount or use a window vent guard so that your pet can’t jump or stick their head through it.

We hope the tips in this guide can help you and your pet stay safe during a long car journey together. Enjoy your East Ruston Cottages holiday!