Want a trouble-free trip with your dog? Try our top tips…

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Even the most carefully muffled jingle of car keys is enough to alert your dog that an outing is at hand. Most dogs are keen as mustard to jump into the car. Nothing – but nothing – is worse than being left behind.

So if your ambitious plan to have a quiet Christmas at home has fallen by the wayside, and you’re planning a long drive to visit friends or relatives, here are some of the key dog-friendly travel tips that’ll help you and your pet arrive feeling festive, not frazzled…

All the kit

Babies and small children need an absurd amount of luggage, but some dogs aren’t far behind. If there’s room, pack his own basket for use at your destination. At the very least, his familiar blanket will help him feel secure, both during the journey, and at the other end. Bowls, toys, lead, any medication, treats, coat, microwave blanket warmer… don’t try to remember it all. Make a list.

Build in pit stops

Kids need frequent breaks in a long journey and so, of course, do dogs. A snack, a good long drink, a chance to have a wee and a run around will improve morale no end (yours too… on all counts). If your driver is one of those can’t-stop-until-Exeter types, be firm but fair – 90 minutes at a time is plenty. Two hours and you’re pushing your luck.

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Safe and secure

When you stop for a break, clip your dog’s lead on securely before opening any door. A stressed, fed-up pet is much more likely to leap out and disappear at speed. This is just as important if your dog is travelling in a cage or in the rear behind a grille.

Check your ID

With the last point in mind, in the unthinkable event of your pet going missing during the journey, or while you’re away in unfamiliar territory, are you sure he could be easily identified and returned to you? It’s now a legal requirement for dogs to be microchipped and for the microchip details to be up to date. It’s also a good idea to ensure your dog has an ID tag.

Dining out

Bring supplies of your dog’s usual food, plus plenty of water in bottles (you can even buy non-spill travel water bowls), and his familiar bowls. Giving a new type of food en route is likely to lead to tummy upsets once you’re back on the road. Not nice. If possible, feed him a couple of hours before you set off.

Be covered

You’re going to have a wonderful Christmas, of course, with country walks, marvellous food and family catch-ups. But it’s as well to be covered for unexpected hiccups. That means making sure you’ve signed up to a car rescue service, or that your existing insurance includes this. Plus ensuring your dog is insured if things do go wrong gives you peace of mind. Petplan’s Covered for Life® policies provide ongoing cover right into the old age of your pet. Find out more about Petplan’s pet insurance here.

Enjoy it!

The journey will be worth it. And even if your dog’s sulked a bit on the way, you know as well as he does that you’re glad to be together at this special time of year.…