Top 20 dog travel checklist:
Dogs have been a part of my family for as long as I can remember. Having travelled extensively with our dogs, I imagine that over the last 40 years we’ve encountered pretty much every scenario that you may experience! Hopefully this checklist includes a few items that maybe you hadn’t considered. New products are released every year to make your (and your dog’s) life even easier. I’ve included some suggestions of those that we’ve found to be brilliant and just make life easier when you’re travelling away from home. Some items on the list are essential while others are merely useful.
The quick checklist is shown below. Click on each entry to see our hints, tips and recommendations.
1. Leads – extendible & fixed length
Leads are right up there in the important stakes. They keep your dog out of danger and allow some freedom even when Rover is ‘strong willed’ like one or two of our dogs! The Country Code, food and drink establishments and most dog friendly attractions and now require dogs to be on a lead. We use three different types.
Close contact lead This is your everyday lead when out walking in town or down at the pub. Your close contact lead is normally less than 1.5m (four feet) long and allows you to easily keep control if the situation requires it. Our favourite is a lead that has multiple D rings on it and a clip at both ends. This allowing you to lengthen or shorten as required or use it for two dogs at the same time if another lead should break. Having the clips and the D rings also make it easy to clip the lead around you when the dog is off the lead so you can have both hands free.
ManMat multi clip lead £5.99 from snowpawstore.co.uk
Extendable lead – The extendable lead is fab when out walking with plenty of space, but dogs are not permitted to be off the lead. You retain ‘some’ control and Fido gets to investigate and have a run around. They’re perfect for National Trust properties, long distance footpaths and beaches with restrictions. Our Tips: Buy a good quality lead. This goes without saying, but this lead takes a real beating so you need it to be tough. When our dogs get a scent, they’re off – even if they are on an extendable lead. This means that the at full sprint the lead hits it’s end or the stop mechanism has to engage and hold with a 20Kg dog running at speed. This isn’t good for the lead or the dog so you need equipment that is built to last. Preferably add a shock absorbing bungee section between the extendable lead and the dog’s lead or harness. Another great feature is if the lead makes a noise when the braking spindle is part engaged. This provides an audible warning to the dog that they are reaching the end of the lead.We use Flexi Giant 8m (24 feet) retractable leads. These are great for medium to giant size dogs but are too strong for smaller dogs. £19.99 on Amazon.co.uk
If leads are number 1 on the list, collars, harnesses and ID tags have to be number 2. There is a huge range of collars and harnesses on the market. The key difference is that a harness can help in training your dog to stop pulling and reduce stresses on the neck of the dog. We use leather collars on a day to day basis and a professional harness when our dog Meg is running with Melanie on Canicross. The harness needs to fit the dog perfectly so that the dog is secure but can move freely without restriction or causing irritation. Most harnesses provide a D ring between the shoulder blades of the dog as a connection point for a lead. Some harnesses even have lights built in so that you can see where your dog is in low light (especially good for black dogs!). Don’t use a harness on a dog when the dog is swimming as the harness could become snagged on submerged weed or other debris.
Tips: A collar should be loose enough to allow you to slip your forefinger and middle finger between the collar and the dog’s neck.
If your dog doesn’t moult, check how tight the collar is on a regular basis. As the dog’s hair grows the collar can become tight surprisingly quickly.
Harness: Julius K9 £19.99 to £28.99 at https://fetch.co.uk/
ID tags are essential. Good dog friendly accommodation providers will now also provide you with an additional tag during your stay that ensures that you and your dog are reunited while staying away from home. Check out ours below:
3. Food & Water Bowls
Food and water bowls are essential when travelling with your dog. If the bowls you use at home are too bulky to travel with get some that stack or collapse while not in use. Remember that for large breeds and older dogs you can make life a little easier by elevating the bowls.
Hints: A neat idea is to also put a towel or non-slip mat under the bowls at your accommodation. Most dog friendly accommodation like Pillows & Paws Cottages have fitted wood or easy wipe flooring. This means that your dog bowls will have a little journey of their own if they’re not on a non-slip mat and may even cause scratches to the floor. The wider and lower a water bowl, the less likely it is to tip over. See our recommendations below:
We love: These Innogear dog bowls come with a silicone non-slip mat and reduce the likelihood of tipping.
Available from £12.99 from dogly.co.uk
If you don’t want an integral set, these bowls from Kuiji are wide and low so as to avoid spillage. They are stainless steel and have a rubber base built in (to avoid movement) and are stackable.
Available from around £7.00 on Amazon
4. Water bottle, water and a portable bowl
5. Food & Treats
6. Poo bags and screw lid container
7. Bed / Crate
8. Car seat belt / restraint
UK law now requires that dogs enclosed or restrained to protect them and to avoid them distracting you.
The Highway Code requires dogs (and other animals) to be ‘suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly’ (rule 57)
There are a number of products available to enclose or restrain your dogs. We nearly always have our dogs in the boot of our estate car with a rubber flooring. The rubber flooring makes it easy to clean after any accidents or car sickness and easier for their paws to grip the floor. We use short tethers that connect to their harnesses so that they don’t get tangled up. But there are many other methods including:
Back seat dog barrier/ guard
Another option for an estate or hatch back car is a dog barrier that fits to the rear of the back seats. If your dog prefers to sit with you rather than in the boot where you may want him, this can be a great option. Dog barriers are often design to be universal so that they fit many different makes and models of estate or hatchback car. Most connect to the uprights of the headrests themselves. Rather than buying a barrier from the internet, why not visit your local Halfords where they will advise on a model that will fit. They will even fit it for you for £8 so you can avoid the hassle.
Our recommendations: Halfords Dog barriers from £29.99 plus fitting
9. Medication & record of vaccinations/Microchip / Anxiety plug in
When travelling with your dog it is a good idea to bring their vaccination record and details of their microchip number. Fortunately, we have never had to refer to either, but if your dog is lost or hurt you may well need these details.
An anxiety plug in is a useful item to bring along with you. When your dog is in a different setting you may find that an anxiety plug in comes in very handy, especially if your accommodation has unusual noises or people passing in the hallway outside your hotel room door.We use an Adaptil plug in. We found that even during the stress of giving birth to pups our dogs are much calmer and more relaxed. The basic kit including the plug in and the refill here is £14.69 from Amazon.
10. Drying Towels
12. Seat Covers & Throws
Throws for furniture
A great tip for travelling with your dog is to take a throw that you can use on furniture in your accommodation. Most holiday accommodation providers insist that that dogs mustn’t be on the furniture but this is difficult to stick to if your dog is used to a cuddle in front of the TV. Instead, just throw a cover over the furniture and hey presto – no issue!
There’s not really a lot to add here, but you should carry details of your pet insurance with you when you leave home for a break with your dog. If something serious should happen and your dog ends up at a vet during your stay, you may well need your insurance details to make a claim.
14. Stain remover & Sellotape
Why Sellotape? If your dog moults you may well have left dog hair in your holiday accommodation. You can clean up after the dog easily by wrapping your hand in Sellotape (sticky side out). This makes for a brilliant lint brush and collects up all the hairs easily. Once done just pop in the bin.
15. Dog cleaning & rubber gloves
16. Dog Coat
In cold, windy and wet weather, small dogs and those with a short coat can really benefit from an extra bit of protection. We have two Portuguese Water Dogs and a miniature Poodle, none of whom moult. This means that come haircut day that they all feel the cold. We bought our dog coats from the RSPCA here but unfortunately they no longer stock the model we use.
Hints and tips – You’ll want a coat that is the right fit for your dog, waterproof and compatible with a harness if your dog wears one. Some dog coats also have fluorescent strips to provide some extra visibility at night.
17. Toys & Balls
What is it with dogs and balls? They seem hard wired to love a game of fetch. Different breeds of dog enjoy different toys. If your dog enjoys fetch too, a simple tennis ball and a ball thrower are brilliant. They keep your dog entertained, save your back as you don’t have to continually reach down to pick up the ball, and save you from the delightful ‘dog slobber hand’. You can get a ball thrower and ball pretty much anywhere. They look like this:
Another great toy is one of the oddly shaped Kong toys. They’re weird looking but have two uses. When you throw these the odd shape means the toy bounces in unexpected directions making the game even more fun for your dog. Kong toys are also almost indestructible (I bet there are some dogs that eat them for breakfast!) but we also stuff them with treats when the dogs are in the garden. This keeps them entertained for ages.. The Kong toys are not cheap, they normally retail from £6.00 but they are a good investment. You will go through many inferior, cheaper toys long before a Kong toy is destroyed.
If you have more than one dog or have a terrier breed then pull toys are also a winner. These toys stimulate a dog’s natural instinct to play tug of war. There are two schools of thought as to whether it’s a good idea to play tug with your dog. One school suggests that you may be inadvertently training your dog not to release something that they want. We find that if you let go of the item and give a strict command, they soon understand that it’s not a game and release whatever item they have stolen. Anyway, there are loads of pull toys available. Ours like a simple rope with knots in. These can get a bit stinky so they regularly go through the washing machine.
A few options are:
18. First Aid & Tick Treatment
- Broken glass
- Barbed wire
- Playing fetch with a stick
- Aggressive dogs
- Safety pins
- Blunt ended scissors
- Self adhesive tape
- Vinyl gloves
- Cotton wool
19. List of dog friendly pubs, restaurants & attractions
A list of dog friendly places to visit when you’re away on holiday is invaluable. Do your research before you go away and life becomes so much more relaxed and enjoyable. Good dog friendly accommodation providers will do the work for you! At Pillows and Paws Cottages we have produced our own lists of dog friendly pubs & restaurants and a comprehensive list of dog friendly attractions and activities while you’re on holiday in Devon & Cornwall.
20. Travel stairgate
Although these fences can be expensive, they can also save your damage deposit or fines when dogs inadvertently leave presents in areas they shouldn’t be in. They’re not essential, but they are an option.
Hint, if you do buy a free-standing dog gate, buy one with supporting feet like this one. This makes the gate much sturdier and stops it toppling over.