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Driving With a Pet: 11-Step Guide

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

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Ireland is undoubtedly a country of pet-lovers. Pet ownership has increased since COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. For many households, pets are like family members. So, when it is time for travel - whether it’s short or long-distance - we want or have to take our dogs with us, no matter if it is to the beach, park or holiday. And we must make sure our pet is safe. Here is our guide on how to make sure your furry friend is always safe.  

1. Never leave your pet alone in the car 

You should always stay in the car with your pet or just simply take it with you. During the summer, the car can really warm up even when you leave the windows open. And, regardless of the season, your pet can be simply stolen. Especially since the pandemic drove up the prices for dogs and they unfortunately became a more attractive target for burglars. 

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2. Prepare your pet for driving 

If you know you’re going to make a long trip, you can start preparing your pet earlier. Just take them for a series of shorter drives. Driving to a friend? Shop with somebody? Visit family close by? Dropping kids at school? Take your dog with you! It is really that simple of a solution and she will just get used to being in a car. You can also gradually increase the length of the trips if your Max is still not comfortable in the car.  

3. Pet traveling kit 

This is more for long distance trips. Pack in advance all the essentials you need. What you pack depends only on you, but we know this can be: water, water bowl, food, medication if your dogs need any, treats, blanket, favourite toy, and anything you think you would need. 

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4. Plan a feeding schedule 

This is especially when you are planning a long drive. Your pet probably has regular feeding times. It is a really bad idea to give them food in a moving car. Instead, plan when the best time is to leave and where/when you want to stop to feed them and try not to change their regular feeding times too much. You can connect this with a toilet break (for you and the dog) or a short walk for you both to stretch legs. Also, remember they have to drink something so don’t forget to take some water for them.  

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5. Stay calm 

It is really important to stay calm while driving because pets can feel when you are anxious. If you are panicked and in a rush, your dog can feel bad too. This can be a real problem particularly when your dog doesn't like being in the car. Give the pet and yourself time, do everything slowly and let him get used to things.  

6. Travel buddy  

This might sound a little silly, but your pet sometimes just needs company. Maybe she has a favourite toy or plushie? Don’t forget to give it to them. This can be really helpful and have a calming effect on the pet. Another way to do this is to strap them next to someone they like. Maybe he loves being with your child or your partner? They can sit together in the back seats.  

7. Keep your car well ventilated  

You can open the window a little or keep the air conditioner on a lower temperature. That is more comfortable for dogs and probably for you too. No one likes to overheat. 

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8. Holding the dog is banned 

We know it is really tempting to hold your dog on laps or in arms, especially when it’s a small dog. But you really shouldn’t do it. There is a possibility whey would wriggle out of reach and become a distraction, putting everyone at risk.

9. How to strap a pet into a car 

A dog harness is the perfect option for pets of all sizes. This is cost-effective and logical. Harness should go around the dog’s chest, back and shoulders, then we attach them to the car’s seat belt. This is a really comfortable option for dogs because it provides a lot of flexibility and room to move. If the dog is secured with a harness, it should be long enough that the dog doesn’t feel tied down, but short enough that it can’t reach the driver.  

A metal guard is also a good option but for large dogs. Metal guard (also known as dog guards or dog cages) helps secure pets in the boot of the car. In the unfortunate case of an accident, your dog won’t be thrown around the car, risking injury to both it and the people traveling inside. 

A pet carrier is designed for small pets. It can be placed on the floor or seat but in this case it has to be secured with seatbelts. This provides a safe area for the dog and keeps it away from the driver. But for some pets it can take a really long time to get accustomed to it. 

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10. Learn what makes them feel comfortable  

Like people, pets like or dislike some things. You might want to learn what it is. Maybe they prefer the back seat? Maybe they like sitting in front (in this case remember to turn off the airbag)? Maybe they get carsick? Maybe they don’t feel comfortable with some ways of strapping? Try noticing things like this.  

11. Microchip  

Microchip is a legal requirement in Ireland. Get your dog microchipped and check that the information on the chip is up to date and correct. If your dog is in a strange area or a long way from home, he can get lost easier. This would be a nightmare. Microchip can help find him easier.  

As you can see, there are a few ways of driving safely with a pet. You have to think about it in advance and plan what’s best for you and your furry friend. 

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