Travelling on planes, trains and automobiles with your dog holiday cottages

Canine Care

Travelling on planes, trains and automobiles with your dog

Elianne 17 December 2018

When it comes to taking our dogs away on holiday, there's so much more to consider than when we go it alone. While those with four legs are happily dreaming of their next vacay – bouncing through grassy meadows and taking long sunset walks on the beach – those with just two are worrying about the safest way to get there with a furry friend in tow. Maybe you've got a hound who's used to hopping in the car at a moment's notice, but what about when travelling long distances by train or even by plane?

Travelling with dogs within the UK can be pretty straightforward, but there are still things to consider. It's best to check well in advance to find out what you need for you and your pooch to have a smooth and safe journey. Luckily, we've compiled some thorough advice for you. Want to know the ins and outs of travelling with a dog by plane, train or automobile? Then read on!

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Canine carrier 1: Car

Dog in boot of car with suitcases

At a glance:

  • Always make sure dogs are restrained with a seat belt harness
  • Try a cage in larger vehicles, with a blanket and toys inside
  • Get dogs used to shorter trips before a long journey (even if they are one of the best travel companion dog breeds)
  • Ask your vet for help with car-sick canines
  • Remember hot sun in traffic jams can also be fatal for dogs

Secure your dog when driving

Dog in a harness in the back seat of a car

Although many dogs may like to roam freely in the back of the car, having a crate large enough for them to sit in comfortably (padded with their own bedding and toys) will make the journey safer for both you and them. It will stop them from distracting you and, in the event of an accident, your pet will be less likely to escape.

There are other acceptable restraint options such as seatbelt harnesses and dog guards – just choose the one that is best for the size of your car and the number of dogs travelling.

Stop for breaks frequently

Dog and family having picnic

Long car journeys take their toll on dogs just as they do on humans and, just like you, they need to stop for a bathroom break too! Frequent stops for them to stretch their legs and relieve themselves can make a huge difference and will make future journeys more enjoyable too.

Most dogs will appreciate the opportunity for a little stroll and a few sniffs – just make sure that you have your dog's favourite lead firmly attached, as even the best-behaved hounds may want to take themselves off when they see all that new space on offer! 

Discover our favourite dog-friendly motorway services for when you and your pup are ready to take a break. 

Never leave your dog alone in the car

Dachshund looking out of a car window

This is one of, if not the most important rule when it comes to car journeys with dogs.

Never, under any circumstances, leave a dog in the car alone. Cars can become very hot very quickly even with windows open and, in the warmer months, it can only take 15 minutes for a dog to suffer from fatal heatstroke.

If you need to stop at a motorway service station, there are usually plenty of areas to take your dog for a walk as well as outside tables where your dog can join you for a snack. Just be aware of extra noise and traffic – if you have a nervous dog, try and find a less noisy spot and always choose a quieter service station where possible. When taking them out to stretch their legs, it may be helpful to double leash with both a collar and a well-fitting secure harness that they are comfortable wearing.

Take plenty of water

Dog with his tongue out looking out the car window

During the journey, having fresh water is as essential to your dog as it is to you in keeping hydrated. Take a collapsible bowl for the trip and have bottled water to hand once you arrive at your cottage; the difference in tap water varies dramatically across the country, and your dog may not like water from a different location, so take some other options just in case.

Be mindful of giving your pet bottled water long-term as some minerals can be removed during the distillation process – spring water is a better option than distilled if you only have bottled water to hand. However, this is a much-debated topic and, as always, it is better to speak to your vet before making any changes to your pet's regime.

Have treats to hand

Dog putting his paw up for treats

Your pet is bound to feel slightly uneasy being somewhere totally new and may not be keen on a long car journey, so have a few treats to hand to reward them for being good. Bear in mind that some dogs suffer from travel sickness so it's best to avoid rich food or treats before or during the journey – chat with your vet about how to manage this and when to feed your dog if you have a long journey ahead.

On arrival at your holiday cottage, your dog may look for a welcoming treat from home so why not start making him some of our homemade dog treats before you go?

Be aware of letting your dog off the lead

Dog walking on lead

Your prized pooch may be obedient at home, but in a new environment, they may act differently. For that reason, it's best to keep your dog on lead where possible, especially if you are discovering new areas – there may be cliff edges, lakes or livestock that you don't know about and some areas may even have regulations stating that dogs must be kept on a lead.

As well as keeping your dog on a lead, Chloe Jackson, Canine Behaviourist and Training Manager at Battersea recommends working on your dog’s recall command before you go away so you have additional peace of mind that they will respond when you call. She says: “Once your dog has learned to come back to you in familiar environments, it’s a good idea to practice it on a long lead in different, safe environments in your local area so that they know to focus on coming back when called, whatever situation they are in.”

Keep to a routine

Dog on a rug waiting to eat his food

Your dog is probably used to a routine at home, including set feeding and walkie times. It’s best to maintain this routine to make them feel as comfortable as possible on holiday, and keeping up their walks makes for a happy, healthy hound in any case!

Make sure that you take enough of your dog's regular food in case you can't find it nearby: it’s always best to introduce new foods gradually over a period of days to avoid stomach upsets and a holiday isn’t the best time to start a new food – no hound wants a poorly tum on their jollies! Also take your dog's favourite bed, blanket and toys – the more things they have from home, the more likely they are to settle.

Don’t leave dogs alone in a new, strange place

Dog out in woods with leaves in his mouth

On the same note, don’t leave dogs alone in your holiday home. Whilst most cottages may have this rule in place anyway, it’s advisable to always have a human nearby, as the new environment and strange surroundings may make your pet feel anxious and uneasy.

Always take Fido and Flora with you when you go out – there are so many brilliant dog-friendly places to eat and ulti-mutt days out in the UK that you will always find somewhere that welcomes all members of the family!

Help them to relax

Dog relaxing in hammock

While having a routine and bringing their favourite things on hols can help your pet settle into an unfamiliar place, there are other ways to help your pooch relax if he is still feeling unsettled, such as treating them to a massage or playing them some of Relax My Dog's soothing music. The most important thing is having their humans around them, so make sure they are with you as much as possible and that they are still getting lots of cuddles and attention, even on the busiest of days. 

For even more ways to keep your dog relaxed, take a look at Scrumbles, a natural pet food company who make a host of goodies for dogs and cats alike. With naturally calming ingredients like chamomile and lemon balm, their calming dog treats make for a helpful addition to your doggies’ travel bag.

Get pet insurance

Dog with bandage on paw

If anything should happen while you’re away, you need to be prepared. Having pet insurance is the best way to make sure you’re covered if anything goes wrong while you are on holiday. Many insurance policies cover you if you are on holiday in the UK with your dog but it's always best to check before you go – remember to take a copy of the policy with you too, in case you need to show it to a local vet.

Net a vet

Dog at vets getting paw bandaged

In the same vein, it’s always a good idea to check where the nearest vet practice is to your holiday cottage. If anything should go wrong and your beloved hound needs to see a vet, you’ll want to know there’s somewhere nearby where he or she will be in good hands. Sometimes the owner of your holiday cottage will recommend a trusted local vet which will be included in the welcome notes, but it's always worth doing your own research just in case. We advise doing this before you leave home so that you’re prepared if Fido gets into mischief and you need a vet quickly.

Microchipping is a must

Microchip scanner with dog

It’s now a legal requirement to have your dog microchipped in the UK, but it's also the best way of being reunited with your dog should they go missing while you’re away. Some microchip providers will allow you to register temporary holiday addresses but even if you have a policy that doesn't, as long as your mobile number is up to date, they will have a way of contacting you should the worst happen. Make sure all your details are updated regularly both at home and on holiday.

Do your research!

Dog and cat on computer

Check out dog-friendly attractions, pubs and events ahead of your trip. Knowing where you can go with or without your dog could be a deal-breaker for certain locations – the time of year is also important if you want free rein of the nation’s beaches. As we mentioned above, more and more places in the UK are now welcoming holidaying hounds, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find lots of brilliant activities to do with your favourite four-legs, wherever your holiday may take you.

Read our guide to find out what to look for when booking a dog-friendly cottage or take a look through our fun blog listing what we believe to be the UK's most dog-friendly towns and cities.

Make a list

Dog with a suitcase packed for his holiday

List everything you need to take prior to leaving so you don’t forget anything – from toys and blankets to food and any medication your pooch may need. Medication is especially important as it may be difficult to obtain while you are away. If you do forget your dog's meds, speak to your vet who may be able to speak to your holiday vet to prescribe emergency rations until you get back home – bear in mind that some medicine may need to be ordered in, so it’s best not to rely on somebody else to put Rover’s tablets in the car!

If you're not sure where to start, head to our canine travel checklist for ideas on what you might need to take.

But most of all...have fun!

Terrier dog in orange car with head out the window

Having your four-legged best friend on your holiday shouldn’t be a chore, so whichever canine cottage you end up in, make sure your adventure is memorable and packed with nice long w-a-l-k-i-e-s and fun days out that you’ll all enjoy. Take a look through these top ideas for holidays with your dog across the UK and get ready to have a fantastic time with your best bud!

Canine Carrier 2: Train

Dog on train with female owner

At a glance:

  • Dogs travel free on all (non-sleeper) trains if they do not take up a passenger space
  • Dogs must be carried on escalators on the Tube or take the stairs
  • Put small dogs in a carrier and all dogs on a lead in the carriage
  • Dogs can also travel in the guard's van in a crate or with a lead and muzzle
  • You can carry up to a maximum of two dogs per person on a UK train

Dog training

Dog looking slightly concerned on a platform next to a stationary train

Wondering if dogs can travel on trains? Hopping aboard a train with your canine pal isn’t as difficult as you may think. While we're not going to deny that popping a small pooch on your lap is easier than trying to wrangle a couple of German Shepherds in the carriage, it can be done. In our experience, dogs seem to love a train journey with their humans. Not only can you all enjoy the beautiful British countryside together, but you can plan your journey so that you can hop off for a well-deserved walkie and toilet break before joining a later train for the rest of the journey.

Free travel for dogs

Man and dog on train platform

Your dog won't need to dip into their holiday savings either as transport is completely free – as long as they don't take up a passenger seat, it won't cost a penny. If they do take up the space of a paying human, then you'll have to buy them their very own Rover Return ticket!

According to National Rail, dogs can travel free of charge on all British trains, up to a maximum of two per passenger, on a carrier placed on the floor or on a lead. They must be well-behaved and not cause a nuisance to other passengers and they are not allowed in restaurant cars (apart from assistance dogs). Caledonian Sleeper carries dogs for a charge but you will need to book at least 48 hours in advance. The Tube also welcomes dogs, but they must be carried on the escalator, apart from guide dogs who have a special pass saying that they have been trained to use them. Big dog owners can save their backs by checking online for stations with stairs here

Can my dog sit on my lap?

A lady with a pug on her lap on a train

Believe it or not, small dogs may be more comfortable in a cage than on your lap on busy trains. We love to think that they always want to be with us but sometimes having a safe place away from the crowds is a better option for them; you can always get them out later when there are fewer people onboard. Put their favourite blanket and toy or chew in their cage with them and they will be more likely to settle.

If you have a larger dog, it's best to avoid busy times so that they don't get stressed by too many people passing them or trying to pet them. If your furry family member is a social animal, they may well enjoy having lots of attention from fellow passengers – in this case, leave them out – after all, nobody wants to put baby in the corner!

TOP TIP: Dogs can also travel in the guard's van in a cage, or secured with a collar, chain and muzzle. Bear in mind that dogs can get stressed when muzzled, and also panic when tied up without their owner so if you have an inexperienced train traveller, it's best to buy a crate and accustom them to it before travel.

Canine Carrier 3: Plane

Dog at airport with ticket in mouth and suitcase

At a glance:

  • Dogs travelling in and out of the UK must travel in the hold
  • They must travel via an approved air route
  • All canines must have a pet passport before travel
  • They will need an approved crate to travel in
  • Take care with Brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds

Come fly with me? 

Well, it very much depends on where you're going. Canines in the UK looking to boost their air miles won't have much luck as air travel is mainly used by dogs joining their owners abroad for a considerable amount of time or those returning to our shores after an extended trip. Shorter holidays can be tricky as there are no direct passenger flights in and out of the UK that accept dogs in the cabin, meaning that our four-legged friends have to travel in the hold, via an approved air route. This can be a complicated affair so if you do decide to fly, you might want to consider using an animal transport company such as PetAir UK. While it's more expensive than doing it solo, everything is taken care of and you can rest assured that you won't have any surprises when you get to the other end.

For more in-depth information, click below.

Travelling in style

Crates with animals inside ready to be loaded on plane

If you do decide to take your dog from the UK, most airlines have very specific regulations about what cage your dog can travel in when in the hold. Generally speaking, you can't use the open metal style of crate you may have at home. Vari kennels – the plastic type with a top and bottom secured by clips – tend to be approved by most airlines or you can buy crates directly from air transporters or the airline, usually of the plastic or wooden variety.

If you use an air transport company, they will line the crates with special bedding to make sure that dogs remain dry throughout the journey; when using your own crate, put in a vet bed or similar which will have the same effect. Don't worry about hydration – airline regulations state that each crate must have a water container that can be filled from the outside so that airport staff can fill them as and when necessary.

Dedicated human alert

Man holding dog in cage at airport

Some dog owners who don't want to put their precious cargo into the hold have been known to drive their dogs from the UK into European countries and then pick up a dog-friendly flight to their final destination. Canny canine parents know that some European airlines allow dogs below a certain weight (usually about 10 kilos) to accompany their humans in the cabin, as long as their carrier fits under the seat. Heavier dogs have to be placed in a crate in the hold so bear that in mind before booking larger dogs their annual vacation via this route.

Rules and regs

A dog sitting alone on the floor of an airport

The rules and regulations of each country and airline are very specific so it's best to check current requirements with DEFRA in the UK as well as the embassy of the country you are visiting and the airline you are travelling with. As with any form of transport leaving or entering the UK, plan well in advance to make sure that you have the required health certificates and licenses, vaccines and identification, as well as the correct size and type of crate for your pet.

For dogs travelling in the plane's cargo hold, you will need a crate which complies with the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) Live Animals Regulations. IATA currently represents over 250 airlines globally and their regulations are considered to be the minimum standard requirements for air transportation of live animals, so make sure that you check their website for the most current information.

Dog passports – how much do they cost and how long do they last?

A dog ready to go on holiday with sunglasses, headphones and a passport

It is best to check with DEFRA about the documents needed for your animal to be able to travel in and out of the UK. While at the moment, all that a dog needs to enter the UK from most European countries is a passport, microchip, rabies vaccination and treatment for tapeworm (please note that there is a timeframe for this), this may change in the future. Current advice is that you should start the process at least 4 months before you travel. Passports for dogs travelling from countries outside the EU shouldn't see any change but check with your vet or DEFRA to make sure that you have up-to-date information. 

The current cost of a passport can vary from vet to vet, and you should also consider the microchip, rabies vaccination and tapeworm costs. Luckily the passport is valid for life, with the rabies booster required just every 3 years in the UK (it can be yearly in other countries so do bear this in mind). Your dog should already have a microchip so you will not need to pay for that again but you will need to give a tapeworm treatment every time you enter the UK which is an added cost of approximately £50. The average cost of a pet passport is about £110 before adding costs for treatments or vaccinations. 

Will my dog enjoy flying?

Brachycephalic breed looking up at camera

Most dogs tolerate flying pretty well, especially once they've done it a couple of times. Take-off and landing are the only tricky part, similar to babies and young children but most animals settle down once the plane is cruising. Of course, the length of the journey, as well as the time of year, can be a factor in how your dog will react and so it's best to avoid long journeys and times of extreme heat or cold where possible. Brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds such as pugs, bulldogs and boxers may have difficulties due to restricted breathing at high pressures, with some airlines actually refusing to carry them, so take this into consideration when you are planning your trip. Read more about flying with these breeds here.

Brachycephalic breeds include:

  • English bulldogs
  • Shih tzus
  • Pekingese
  • French bulldogs
  • Pugs
  • Boxers

Would it help to sedate my dog?

Dog with sunglasses on at airport with carrier

It's not only pressure changes that can cause our four-legged friends’ problems. Some dogs don't like being separated from their owners or the noises that go hand in hand with a busy airport. While sedation and anti-anxiety medications can help nervy dogs in normal circumstances, they can be dangerous for dogs while in the air. Sedation is not recommended by IATA's guidelines and many airlines will not allow it at all, so discuss this with your vet in advance of travel to see if there's anything you can do to make their journey easier.

Some air transport companies have now started to use alternative methods such as spraying crates with species-specific appeasing pheromones which have been shown to help reduce anxiety and stress during the flight. If you want to do this yourself, you can buy Adaptil pheromone sprays, collars and tablets from both your vet and large pet stores such as Pets at Home.

TOP TIP: If your dog is travelling in the cabin with you as some countries allow, you'll be limited by the size of the carrier so make sure that your pet is in it for the least time possible. Some airports have exercise areas inside, but others will not allow animals out of their carriers at all so be sure take your dog out for a short walk before checking in. The most important thing is to acclimatise your dog to the crate before travel so that they see it as a place of safety and not an added stress. 

Come away with us!

So now you know how to get around with your four-legged family member, why not choose one of our gorgeous dog-friendly cottages as your final destination? We have an amazing portfolio that both you and your canine family members will enjoy. 

Retreat to a shepherd's hut in the depths of Dartmoor National Park, cosy up in a couple's cottage in the Brecon Beacons or even hire your own stately Georgian hall in its own grounds, complete with a swimming pool and tennis courts. With all being easily reached by car, many by train and the odd one by plane, they are just the place for you and your dog to find your own happy place together.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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