Travelling With An Anxious Dog
We just got back from taking the dogs on holiday and I wanted to share some photos and tips which I found handy. Travelling with an anxious dog is never easy, but Darcy is a rescue dog who suffers terribly when his routine is disrupted. He has been here for four years now and has made significant progress with his fear aggression and stress-related issues, but he still has a long way to go.
Until now I have avoided taking Darcy on holiday. He reacts badly to car travel, is distrustful of strange people and gets anxious when he is away from home. However, we all needed a holiday and my older dog Holly loves to visit the beach so I crossed my fingers and booked a cottage for us.
I really didn’t know what to expect from this holiday, I didn’t want to go off and leave Darcy behind but it could have been a disaster for all of us. However, it was worth the planning and worry, because this is a short video which shows Darcy’s first ever time on the beach.
(It’s a good idea to turn the volume off! )
Here is How I Made Travelling With An Anxious Dog a Little Easier.
Darcy doesn’t travel well in the car, he gets very stressed, so a three-hour journey was going to be a real trial for us all.
I decided to sit in the back of the car with the dogs strapped in next to me. The dog beds were positioned on the back seat so the dogs had familiar smells of home as well as a comfy place to sit.
I gave Darcy some Bach Pet Rescue Remedy before we set off to make him feel less anxious. I use this quite often for example when there are fireworks or thunderstorms. It’s all natural and I’m sure it helps Darcy relax, without making him too sleepy.
I also used an Adaptil spray in the car which also helped. (Details of this are further down the post)
We stayed in a cottage which was recommended to us by a dog loving friend. It was a detached cottage in a very quiet area but close to the coast. I was concerned that Darcy would bark and disturb people when he was outside, so it was important that the cottage didn’t have close neighbours.
I was actually surprised how quiet Darcy was. The cottage is in a peaceful, countryside location and Darcy found little reason to bark at all.
I had previously checked that the accommodation had a secure garden and I was pleased that the dogs were safe and secure when we let them outside.
I used the Adaptil spray again in the room where Darcy slept and he settled really well in his own bed. I’m sure the sea air and lots of exercise also helped to calm him.
Not all beaches are dog-friendly so I did some research online before we left, so I knew exactly where I could take the dogs. Most beaches had restrictions from April to September but I found that there were instructions at the entrance to the beaches stating if and where dogs were allowed, and if they had to be kept on a leash.
We booked the holiday at this time of year because we knew it would be quiet. The children haven’t finished school yet and the weather wasn’t brilliant so we got some of the beaches to ourselves which was perfect for Darcy.
Yellow Dog Bandanas
When we took Darcy out I made sure that he was wearing his yellow bandana when he was around strangers. The bandana is eye-catching and clearly states that he is a dog who needs his space. Previously I have had many people approach Darcy because he is very small and cute. This is a good way of warning people not to get too close because he can be a little unpredictable around people.
(You can read more about the yellow bandanas here, I recommend them if you have a dog who doesn’t like to be approached or like Darcy is unpredictable when he is nervous. As much as I hate to put a label on any dog, I think in these circumstances, safety comes first)
All the other dog walkers were so friendly and commented on his bandana. When I explained that he was a rescue dog they were all interested in his story. On our walks, we also met lots of other rescue dogs.
Anxiety seems to be one of the main problems experienced by dogs who are rehomed.
Darcy loves meeting other dogs so he enjoyed saying hello to all the dogs we met. He was kept on his lead when people were around but we managed to let him run free on beaches where there was no one around. He happily pottered close to us, loving all the new smells of the seashore and he ventured into the sea a few times for a little paddle.
Here’s a summary of some really useful tips I found which actually worked when travelling with an anxious dog.
However, these tips apply to ALL dogs too.
Do your Homework!
1 Really think about your dog’s needs when booking accommodation and go with recommendations if you can.
Read the reviews before booking to see what other dog lovers have written. Just because the accommodation is dog-friendly you still want it to be modern, fresh and super clean with all the facilities you would expect.
2 Check beforehand that the garden is secure.
A garden enclosed with a hedge around the sides would be useless for a small dog like Darcy because they can get through the branches. Also, if the garden is fenced, ask how close the posts are and if there are small gaps underneath. Remember it’s not just the height of the fencing, it is the type and quality of fence provided too. My friend had previously used the cottage we stayed in, so I knew that the garden was totally secure.
3 Once you have found some accommodation which meets all your needs check out the location is convenient too.
A holiday with dogs means you can’t eat in restaurants so is there a supermarket within a few miles?
Are there dog-friendly beaches, pubs, and parks close by?
I used UK Dog-Friendly Beach Guide to research beforehand which beaches were good for dogs. I particularly found the maps helpful (including postcodes for Sat Nav) details of high tide, star ratings and facilities nearby.
Is there parking close to the holiday rental away from busy roads?
4 Make a list of information you will need to find quickly if your dog gets lost or becomes unwell.
This includes vet contact information and chip details, insurance information and a photo of your dog. I keep these details on my mobile phone, so they are to hand at all times,
Prepare the car before you travel.
It is important to prepare the car before tavelling with an anxious dog, just to make sure that he or she feels as calm as possible. Just take a few minutes to make sure that you have everything you need for a stressfree and safe journey before you take the dog to the car.
1 The place where the dog will be sitting should be nice and comfortable, make sure that they have their own blankets to snuggle up in.
2 Make sure that the dogs are safely clipped into a seat belt. They are then secure if the car stops quickly. It also prevents them from jumping out of the car as soon as the door opens.
Rule 57 of the Highway Code
In the UK you can be fined and given up to 9 penalty points if you are seen to be driving without due care and attention due to an unrestrained dog in the car. It can also affect your car insurance if an accident occurs.
3 Keep a bag of doggy essentials handy. This includes poo bags, water, and bowls, treats, harnesses, raincoats, etc (I have a good hack for this which you will find further down the post)
4 Always have a microfibre dog towel handy. These are great for drying soggy, muddy dogs but they dry out quickly which you need when you are travelling.
5 Dogs can easily overheat in cars so have a clip on fan to hand and use window shades in the area of the car where the dog will be sitting. I also carry a water spray if it is really hot, and give them a quick spritz if they show signs of overheating.
6 I always have a lint remover in the front of the car to remove dog fur from my clothes and to give the car seats a quick clean too.
A list of 20 essential you need when travelling with your dog can be found here
1 Take the dogs food with you, there may not be shops close by or you might not be able to get hold of their usual brand. Dogs can get upset tummies if you change their food too quickly and that is the last thing you need!
2 Don’t forget any medication that the dog needs.
3 A torch will be useful when your dog needs toilet breaks at night
4 Keep feeding and bedtime routines as close to home routines as possible.
5 Take some reminders of home for the dog. You can take a small bed, a blanket, and a favourite toy just to make him feel secure.
Best Travelling Products For Dogs
(My Number One Dog Hack)
Keep All Your Doggy Requirements In One Place
This is actually a nappy/ diaper caddy for young mums. However, I bought one to keep all my doggy bits and pieces together in the car. I like that you can see where everything is and there are compartments so everything can be kept really tidy. The inserts are interchangeable so that you can organise your compartments to fit your needs. I love how easy it makes transporting all the doggy requirements from the car back to the house. I have carried on using this since we got back off holiday and wouldn’t be without it now. We used it for a picnic recently and my husband doesn’t object to carrying it!
Dog Seat Belts To Keep EVERYONE Safe
These are the seat belts I use for my dogs. I purchased them because they come as a pack of two and I needed them for my two dogs. Also, the reviews were favourable and the price reasonable too. I like how adjustable the straps are. They loosen easily when you want to give the dogs a drink in the car. Then they can be adjusted when the car is moving.
Calming Spray For An Anxious Traveller
I chose this because I could use it in the car to calm Darcy and also around the cottage, so it had a dual purpose.
You only use a small amount so the spray lasts for a long time. I have found this spray and the Bach Rescue Remedy really useful for when Darcy is anxious. Both products are drug-free so I didn’t feel like I was trying to sedate Darcy just take the edge off his stress level. I have used the Adaptil Plugin before but found the spray much more effective.
I hope you have found this information helpful if you are thinking of travelling with an anxious dog. If you have any other useful tips please let me know in the comments.
Have a safe trip!
The products listed are my personal recommendations to help if you choose to travel with an anxious dog. They are affiliate links, which means I get a small fee if you choose to use them.This doesn’t affect the price that you pay.