During the school holidays, we are planning on driving to visit friends in Northern NSW. It is a two day drive and we are taking our special four legged boy Obi. He is a pretty good car traveller, however we have not done many long haul drives with him, other than a couple of hours here and there. We fully intend on breaking the drive every couple of hours so he and the boys can run around and stretch their legs. I have been thinking about giving Obi a series of chew toys and perhaps some treats for the trip but I don’t want to be continually feeding him for two days (don’t want to risk him being sick in the car), but I am wondering if you have any other tricks for entertaining him for long periods in the car?
You are on the right track by taking regular breaks, and also taking some ‘chews’ with you on the trip. If you do these things you will probably find that Obi sleeps most of the trip. However, be prepared for a busy dog once you arrive. It might be a good idea to allocate someone to walk him as soon as you get to your destination as he will be full of beans from such a long car ride.
Jennie, you have raised a good point with regards to travelling with dogs in cars. I’m so glad to hear that you want to take Obi with you. So, I thought I would take it further and discuss some of the more general things people need to consider to make such holidays a success.
Good preparation, like a few strong obedience skills, are a large part of making holidaying with your dog a success. Other practicalities to think about include, becoming familiar with the area you are travelling to. This means that you should have a good idea of the accommodation and the area you are staying at. Things like, can your dog be inside with you? Will it be fenced so your dog can be outside? Where is the local vet? And where are the off lead areas? Other considerations include, risks in the area such as ticks and snakes. Doing your homework before you leave will help avoid any surprises when you arrive. You might also like to update your dogs’ ID tags so they are clear and easily read, and don’t forget to contact your microchip company to make sure your details are up to date.
Crate training will also make your holiday more enjoyable with your dog. If your dog is crate trained you can take their crate with you, it can become their mobile kennel. Having your crate handy means that you will have somewhere to contain your dog. It may make the travelling easier too. If your trip involves taking an aeroplane your dog will need to be comfortable with the crate, as this is where they will be spending most of their time while in transit. Even if you are driving with your dog you should have them in their crate, or harnessed to the seat belt, for everyone’s safety.
Taking your dog on holidays also means packing their goods with them. Taking their mat or bed will help your dog recognise their designated resting areas. Take some of your dogs’ toys with you and some interactive food toys and chew toys. Things like pigs ears, raw hide chews, and knot bones would be great. You can also purchase raw beef/lamb bones to keep your dog occupied while you do some non-doggie activities.
Exercise will be a big part of keeping stress levels low while on holidays. Taking your dog for a walk each day, sometimes two, will mean that they will be calm and content when you get back to your holiday home. Allowing your dog to socialise and play with other dogs will also help tire your dog out. The more tired they are, the less likely they will display unruly behaviour.
We are spoilt for choice in Australia with pet friendly accommodation. Life Be In It updates a book each year that displays the best places to visit with your dog. However, word of mouth is probably the best way to find a pet friendly destination. As a general rule, dogs are not allowed in National Parks, but are allowed in State Forests, so if camping is your thing, perhaps a visit to a State Forest would suit you.
Ensuring that you are prepared and are adequately exercising your dog while you are away, increases your chances of enjoying your break with your dog. It gives your dog a break from the same-old, same-old, and everyone will come home feeling content and well rested.