MINI UK and partner Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, are on a mission to help you and your Very Important Pooches (VIPs) travel safely and happily during the festive period.
One in three households in the UK now include a dog and online searches for ‘how to travel with a dog’ have risen by 97% ahead of the holiday season, so MINI and Dogs Trust have compiled five top tips for calmer car journeys.
GET YOUR CAR AND CANINE ACQUAINTED
It’s a good idea to introduce car travel gently and as early on as possible. Dogs having choice around a new or scary thing improves their confidence long-term.
You can start by simply acquainting your dog or puppy with the car itself. Encourage them to have a good sniff and get familiar with your vehicle’s scent. Open up the doors and boot, allowing them to hop in and out at their leisure. A tasty reward for their nose work will help build positive associations with the car.
IT’S ALL IN THE BODY LANGUAGE
Signs of distress can be shaking, panting and pulling away from the car. There are so many reasons a dog might feel anxious about car journeys – so introduce your dog to the car slowly and try to take some trips purely for fun to the beach or park. That way you’ll begin to build positive associations. Watch out for signs of over-stimulation and stress and take a break and a few steps back to the point your dog was comfortable.
KEEP YOUR HOUND SAFE AND SOUND
Consider where your dog will travel and protect your pooch by securing them in place with a harness, guard or crate. That way they’ll be restrained if you have to make a sudden stop. It’ll also help to keep them out of the driver’s way, and avoid distractions while you’re on the move.
Can your dog do a ‘three-point turn’ in the back of the car? Your dog should be able to stand up, turn around comfortably and lie down in their space in the car.
Everyone enjoys an in-car treat, including your doggie pals. Bring your pooches’ favourite treats on trips to reward them for being a great travel companion. You could prepare them a long-lasting chew for the journey or a passenger could drop them a little reward every now and then.
For more information about the MINI and Dogs Trust partnership, visit the MINI Dogs Hub.