My dogs and I are kind of a package deal. www.instagram.com/eddythepughuahua
Published March 30th 2017
Road trips are the best way to experience the real Australia
In the wide expanse of Australia, a road trip is without a doubt the best way to experience all that this country has to offer. There are so many great road trips out there that start out from Brisbane - for example, head up north to Cairns, or down south to Newcastle.. the options are endless! The best thing about road tripping within Australia rather than flying interstate or internationally is that your beloved furbaby doesn't have to miss out on the chance of taking a fun holiday with you - after all, they're a part of the family too; why should they have to miss out? If you wouldn't leave your kids behind, then your furbabies should be no different!
With that being said, there are additional precautions that owners should keep in mind when bringing dogs along on a road trip, in addition to of course 'normal' road trip checklists - 'normal' meaning dog free! But with a bit of preparation and research, taking your pooch along on your next road trip adventure will only add to the amazing memories that you will no doubt be gaining. A little bit of work in exchange for precious memories that will last a lifetime? Yes please - where do I sign up?
The only way to see all of Australia's iconic Big Things is to hit the road!
1. Safety first - buckle up!
Like how you'd never drive without first putting a seat belt on, the same should go for your pets. Although the laws regarding restraint of dogs in or on vehicles can vary between states and/or territories, there are many safety benefits that come with restraining your dog while travelling in the car, for both you and them. This includes:
Less potential to distract or disrupt the driver, as the dog cannot move around within the car
In the event of a collision, the dog may be less likely to become a projectile and therefore the risk of injury to both them and other passengers is potentially decreased
Prevents the dog from jumping out of moving cars, which may reduce risk to both the dog and other road users
Vehicle restraints for dogs are widely available and include restraints that either attach to existing seat belts or have buckles that clip directly into the seat belt. Generally, restraints may be attached to the dog's collar or harness. There are many places from which you can purchase dog seat belts, including pet shops and even Coles and Woolworths. However, the cheapest place to get them is no doubt on eBay - do a quick search for dog seat belts, and you will be sure to find one for less than $2, shipping included. It doesn't cost much to be safe!
Eddy advocating for the importance of pet seat belts with a big smile on his face.
2. Ensure your dog is accustomed to travelling in the car.
As the owner, you should know your dog best - does your dog travel well in the car? How often does your dog accompany you on road trips? Does your dog ever get anxious while travelling in the car? These are just some of the many factors that should be taken into account before making the decision to take your dog on a "long" road trip (i.e. one that spans days rather than hours). If you're unsure of how your dog will travel on longer road trips, perhaps try building up the length of time that your dog spends in the car; start with 1 hour, then 2 hours, then 3 hours... and perhaps go on a weekend getaway - if your pooch passes the trial with flying colours, then congratulations, it's time for a lengthier road trip!
If your dog is a bit of an anxious traveller when it comes to car rides, there are things you can do to help, including:
Medication - such as Adaptil, a replication of the pheromone that mother dogs naturally emit to their puppies just after birth to comfort them
Homeopathic preparations - essences of flowers and plants may help to calm a pet's anxiety (e.g. Rescue Remedy Pets)
3. Provide your dog with access to drinking water.
While on the road, it's not uncommon that we ourselves get thirsty and reach for a bottle of water or coffee (depending on the time of the day!) - the same goes for our pets; believe it or not, they get thirsty too. Of course, unlike at home when our dogs can trot over to the water bowl when they need a drink, access to water needs to be provided in a slightly different way when it comes to car rides.
Depending on the model of your car and where your dog is seated, it may be possible to simply put a cup in one of the drink holders in your car that your pooch can reach - this is the simplest and easiest way. However, if this option isn't possible, then consider the use of a non-spill travel water bowl for your pets, such as one from Road Refresher - the bowl stops spills from accidental kicks, and keeps long ears and beards out of the water. It also encourages tidy drinking as it limits the amount of water your dog can pick up at any one time; it's perfect for road trips!
Eddy always has access to drinking water when travelling in the car.
On long road trips, it is not uncommon for travellers to spend the hottest part of the day in the car as to avoid the heat - however, this can mean that the heat can become unbearable in the car for our furry friends. Dogs' skin is quite different to us humans; rather than relying upon sweat, the principal mechanism that a dog uses to cool himself involves panting with his mouth open. Dogs might not deal well with heat is because they are covered in fur, which could make their bodies quite hot in the summer. Although fur also serves as an insulator, unfortunately, once there is a temperature build up in the body in a continuously hot environment, fur is an impediment to cooling since the heat then has a hard time dissipating through it.
However, fear not for there are plenty of cooling technologies out there to help out. For example, consider the use of cooling bandanas or cooling mats that are available from multiple brands, such as All For Paws. Cooling technology works on the same principle the human body uses to stay cool - evaporation. When we sweat, our sweat evaporates and takes with it excess body heat; cooling technology works in the same way by absorbing and locking in water that evaporates over time, taking the dog's excess body heat with it.
Eddy and Sam modelling their bright blue cooling bandanas.
Dogs and humans are alike in many ways, including their need to release excess waste from time to time. The general rule of thumb is, if you need the toilet, then your pooch most likely does too! As per how well your dog travels in the car, you as the owner understands your dog best - how often does your dog need the toilet in their day-to-day life? Try to mimic this routine as best you can when travelling, to avoid unwanted accidents. Oh, and keep monitoring your dog's fluid intake and adjust their toileting times accordingly! Lucky for us, Australia is home to an endless supply of grassy patches, perfect for pooches on the road.
Dogs are no different from humans when it comes to toileting!
Does your dog get bored or restless in the car? What better way to keep them entertained than with a long-lasting chew bone, available from any pet supply store? They're cheap, easily accessible, and perhaps most importantly, will keep your dog occupied while you concentrate on driving! There are many different shapes and sizes of chew bones from a variety of sources (e.g. pigs ears, roo shin bones, chicken necks) to suit different breeds of dogs who also come in different shapes, sizes, and strength. It's worth noting that while this is a great way to keep your dog entertained in the car, it can also get quite messy - if you're not keen on having bits of dehydrated meat on your car seat, then consider the use of a car seat cover, a dog bed, or even a simple towel to keep the mess contained!
Long lasting chew bones, the perfect solution to boredom in the car.
7. Got an energetic dog? Wear them out before getting in the car!
If your dog is still restless in the car on longer stretches of road even with a chew bone, perhaps consider getting some of their excess energy out of their system before starting the day's drive. Take them for a walk or a run, or if there is an off-leash dog park nearby, let them have a leash-free romp to their heart's content - plus, the exercise will be good for you too!
Off-leash dog parks - the easiest way to get rid of excess energy!
8. Call up potential accommodation places before settling on one.
You didn't think you'd have to sleep in the car, did you? With dogs becoming more and more integrated into Australian families as a core member, accommodation places are adapting to this trend by advertising as "pet friendly", which is great news! However, do take "pet friendly" accommodation with a grain of salt - their definition may differ to yours, and as such, it is worth making sure you are on the same page before rocking up. Call up in advance and ask:
What does "pet friendly" entail? Are dogs allowed inside the room with you?
Is there a surcharge for having a dog with you? If yes, how much?
Is there a limit to the size of the dog travelling with you?
The reasons for these questions are simple - some places that advertise as "pet friendly" will then tell guests upon arrival that pets are not allowed inside the room, and either have to be tied up outside the room or left in the car. The two main issues I see with either of these options are that:
1. You are not at home - you don't know who your neighbours are, you don't know how safe it is to leave your dog outside, especially when you have to tie them up in a communal area. If you're staying out in the country, you risk your dog being unnecessarily exposure to ticks, fleas, and other parasites - even if you take precautions with worming tablets, it is not a 100% guarantee. And if you've got a small dog like I do, especially one that's used to staying inside, being tied outside is simply not a viable option.
2. Dogs can easily overheat in cars, even when the windows are down and when the car is parked in the shade. If the air around them is too hot, particularly if they don't have access to water, dogs are physically unable to regulate their body temperature. "Every summer the RSPCA is inundated with calls from concerned citizens alerting us to animals that have been left or locked in hot cars. The RSPCA cannot stress enough that it takes just six minutes or less for an animal to suffer severe heat exhaustion in a car and die."
So keep your dog's best interest in mind when booking places to stay; despite your number of accommodation choices to choose from being more limited, and disregarding any surcharge you might have to pay for bringing a dog with you, remember that your dog is your family member and that their life is worth much more than monetary issues.
Remember to check what the accommodation means by 'pet friendly' - you could have different definitions for all you know.
9. Do your research when planning activities for your itinerary.
If you're going to take your dog along on your road trip with you, then of course dog friendly attractions are going to be on the itinerary! While it's true that the number of activities you are able to do are again limited, there is still so much you can see and do with your furbaby in tow. As a general rule of thumb, although National Parks are without a doubt out of the question (unless your dog is a certified assistance dog), State Forests, Conservation Parks (and so forth) are usually dog friendly, provided that they remain on a leash at all times.
If there are certain attractions that you simply cannot miss while visiting a certain area, consider searching for a local pet-sitter for the day. You may find that when travelling away from major cities, there are times when you cannot find a pet-sitter, no matter how much searching you do online. In these scenarios, I would suggest contacting the local tourism centre, and see if they have any solutions for you.
For example, I contacted Longreach and Winton's tourist information centres when I couldn't locate a local pet-sitter, and received prompt replies and solutions to my problem. Longreach referred to me the local vet (Longreach Veterinary Services), who offers daycare for dogs at just $25 a day. Winton referred to me a private pet-sitter who does not advertise online (hence my unsuccessful searches), in addition to informing me that their local council pounds allow visitors to leave their dogs there for short periods of time. If you look hard enough, there is always a solution!
Finding dog friendly activities is a must when travelling with your furbaby!
Don't stress out too much about the specific details of your road trip; allow room for spontaneity and venture out from your original itinerary! Take lots of pictures, and cement your precious memories in a tangible photograph; you'll be sure to get the itch to road trip with your dog again later on down the track, when you're looking at these photos and reminiscing on the amazing time you had together.
Always a good time when it comes to road trips to the beach! Eddy and Sam are pictured having fun at Nudgee Beach; GJ Walter Park; Sandgate Waterfront; Deception Bay Beach.