CAMPING TIPS | Tips On Traveling Safely With Your Dog

Camping with Style Camping Blog | Activities • Glamping • Travel • Adventure

One of the many great things about a camping holiday is that it’s perfect for all members of the family, not least the family dog! Lots of space to run around, long scenic walks and of course the inevitable sausage that escapes the barbeque – what’s not to love? Unfortunately, for some dogs there is a downside to going on family holidays – the journey there and back.

Camping with dogs, traveling safely

Car journeys can be traumatic for dogs, especially if they suffer from travel sickness or are easily stressed. Ensuring a dog’s happiness in transit is a priority for many owners and as a result they often let their four-legged friend sit in the passenger footwell or lounge on the back seat.

What many dog owners don’t realise, however, is that allowing dogs to travel unrestrained in a vehicle goes against Highway Code regulations. Failing to secure a dog with either a crate, harness or dog guard can put the driver at risk of driving without due care or attention, an offence that can incur fines of up to £2,500, plus nine penalty points. To make matters worse, most insurance policies will not cover any damage caused by having an unrestrained dog in the car.

To find out if motorists were aware of this regulation, boot liner manufacturer Hatchbag carried out an independent survey. Worryingly, it revealed that 45% of drivers allow their pet to roam freely around the vehicle while in transit, unwittingly breaking the Highway Code and putting both their dog and passengers at risk.

Travel with dogs

Safely restraining pets in transit

The good news is that it isn’t difficult to comfortably restrain dogs in a vehicle, and there is a variety of different methods suitable for dogs of all sizes.

Crates are a popular choice among pet-care professionals, as Gemma Harrison, owner of Walkies with Marley, explains:

“Personally, I’d strongly advise using a crate, especially for younger giddy dogs, or where this isn’t possible, a doggy seatbelt.”

Louise Self from Barking Mad also recommends using a crate to create a calm, comfortable environment for dogs on a long journey:

“Take more items to entertain a dog on a long journey—something for them to chew would be helpful as this both occupies them and helps relieve stress, and a favourite soft toy or blanket.”

Crates are also handy while camping as they give pets a familiar home-from-home. They are also useful for containing more adventurous dogs that may choose to visit neighbouring tents during the night!

As camping holidays require a lot of baggage, the choice of restraint may depend on how much space is available in the car. It’s always advisable to fit a protective boot liner before loading and unloading the boot—whether you’ve managed to squeeze in a dog crate or not—to help prevent the interior getting scuffed and scraped. You may need to invest in a roof box or trailer to free up boot space for a crate; alternatively, a harness on the back seat could be the best option.

Camping with dogs, traveling safely

A little pre-planning goes a long way

Regularly taking a dog out and about in the car and gradually increasing the length of the journey will help get them used to being restrained while in transit, making it a lot easier when it comes to holiday time.

Longer journeys will obviously present different challenges. However, as Ryan White from We Love Pets advises, planning the journey in advance can make a big difference, especially for dogs that are prone to travel sickness:

The most important rule is to always plan your journey and try to avoid lots of windy roads and roundabouts where possible. Make sure you don’t feed the dog immediately before or after as it may cause them to have an unsettled stomach. I would always exercise and toilet-break the dog before any journey—long or short.”

Camping holidays are perfect for spending time together as a family. With the right planning and a restraint that suits both the dog and the available car space, there is no reason why four-legged members of the family can’t join in the fun too.