Drive home for Christmas with MINI X Dogs
Top tips for travelling with your pet pooch.
As the manufacturer of the UK's most Dog Friendly Car, MINI are on a mission to help dogs travel happier. With this in mind, we have complied some tips to help you drive home for Christmas with your furry friends.
Here's how you can keep your pet pooch safe as you take to the road:
Keep Your Dog Secured
UK law states that your should be suitable restrained if travelling in a car. This includes either a boot featuring a guard shutting off access to the passenger interior, or securely positioned within a crate in the boot.
Alternatively, car harnesses can be used to secure your dog. These must be correctly fitted on the back seat and secured to the seatbelt attachment. This will ensure your dog does not interfere with the driver or hang their head out the window.
Ensure your dog is kept as cool as possible while travelling. A non-spill water bowl can help keep them hydrated and make sure you plan exercise and toilet breaks for longer trips.
Get Your Dog Used To The Car
Begin by using your pooches' favourite treats to reward their calm behaviour whenever they are near the car. Even walking around the car is beneficial to start with. Reward your dog for sitting calmly before you invite them inside.
If your dog is unsettled getting into the car, place something that smells of you in the car with them to give reassurance. This could be a blanket, dog bed or pillowcase.
Gradually introduce your dog to travel
It is important to introduce the car to your dog carefully as the experience can feel very unusual to start with, particularly if they have never been in the car before. The sight of things moving past the window or their inability to get involved with them could be frustrating for them.
The sound and movement of the car at a slow pace will help them to get used to it. If they struggle with this, give them a treat when the car begins to move. This should then allow them to associate the changes of being in a car with positive things.
Getting your dog in and out the car safely
If your dog has previously travelled and enjoyed it they may be excited to jump in and out the car. However, this could put them at risk of injury or accident.
Ask your dog to sit while you slowly open the door. You can give them a few treats to keep them sitting as you do. If you do this each time you arrive at the car they should soon sit automatically and wait before you guide them into the car safely with control.
Once they are in, spend some sitting inside with them. A long-lasting chew can be a good way for them to associate the car as an enjoyable place to be.
Similarly, teach your dog to get out of the car calmly by slowly opening the door a little bit to wait for your dog to stay still before you invite them out. Again, reward their patience.
More details of doorway training can be found on the Dogstrust website.
Driving with your dog in the car
Begin with short, slow and gentle journeys to get your dog used to the car in a positive way. If you have a friend that knows your dog well it could be beneficial to have them accompany you on the drive.
Allow plenty of time for braking on your journey as a jerky journey may make your dog anxious or stressed.
It is important to note that dogs should never be left attended in a car during any time of year, even for short periods. If you are planning a trip with a stop, you should arrange to leave them safely at home or bring someone with you that could take the dog out the car on a lead whilst you are stopped.
What to do if your dog is anxious or frightened
If your dog is showing signs of anxiety about travelling, you should never force them to travel as this is likely to increase their feelings of worry, panic and being trapped.
With this, either find someone to stay with them while you travel, avoid the journey or make alternative travel plans. You should avoid car travel completely while you seek the guidance of a behaviourist.
If you see another dog in a car that seems distressed or unwell, contact the police on 999 straight away.