Planning The Paw-fect Dog-Friendly Road Trip
Hitting the road with your bestie is always a fun trip away, especially if your bestie contains a boop-able nose, adorable floppy ears, and an excited wagging tail. Dogs are humankind’s most valued companion, and for many households around Australia, they are part of the family. So, it makes sense why we’re always on the hunt for dog-friendly options that cater to our furry friends.
Did you know….
Australia has the highest rate of pet ownership in the world with over 62% of households owning a pet, and 38% of those owning a dog, according to RSPCA data. That’s 4.8 million dogs! What a great place to live, right?
It’s obvious that we Australians love our doggos, and we want to treat them with adventurous trips around the country. While it’s a lot of fun taking your pets on a holiday, it also involves a lot of preparation. What rules and regulations do you have to follow? How do you make your car dog-friendly? How do you find pet-friendly accommodation? It can be overwhelming running through these endless concerns. So, to help you out, we’ve compiled a little guide to help you plan the most paw-fect, and safe, dog-friendly trip!
Understanding the regulations – make your car dog-friendly!
Unfortunately, only 19% of dog owners take their dog with them on holidays—that’s a lot of pups left at home to count down the dog-minutes until their beloved owner comes back (and dog-minutes are long… some say they feel like furever). A lot of this comes down to a lack of prep, struggling to find dog-friendly activities and pet-friendly accommodation. Some of this also comes down to not understanding the regulations for holidays with dogs, especially with road travel involved. Well, we’re here to clear some of that up.
Each state has rules and regulations regarding travel with pets. To find the specific set of rules for your state or the state you will be travelling into, we’ve outlined the appropriate authorities (linked below). For infringing on any of these rules, you may incur a fine and lose a number of demerit points. Depending on the seriousness of the rule or regulation, you could be hit with a fine of up to $425 and could lose 1-2 points. So, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with your state’s rules. Remember, it’s not only your life that you’re protecting, it’s your pet’s life too… and also your wallet. In accordance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW – although, each state has its own), you could face up to six months jail time or a fine up to $5,500 for injury to animals caused by lack of restraint. So, don’t take any risks.
ACT: Transport Canberra
NSW: Roads and Maritime Services
NT: Department of Transport
QLD: Department of Transport and Main Roads
SA: My Licence SA
TAS: Department of State Growth
VIC: Vic Roads
WA: Department of Transport
Of course, some rules are pretty consistent across the states. The following rules apply to most, if not all states, and should be obeyed to avoid any trouble with authorities.
- Do NOT drive with your dog on your lap (see picture above!)
- For motorcyclists – do NOT drive with your dog behind the handlebars
- Dogs should be seated or caged in an appropriate area of the car
- For utes – dogs should be leashed or caged as to not fall off or get injured
- Drivers or passengers of any type of vehicle must not attempt to lead dogs while the car is in motion
- Be wary of travelling with dogs in the passenger seat – even if they are restrained, an airbag deploying could be fatal to a dog and may cause serious injury
Note: In the heat of an Australian Summer, the inside of a locked car with the windows up can get up to 30 degrees higher than outside of the car. That means on a 35-degree day, it’s 65 degrees inside your car. Never leave your pets in this condition. Even with a window wound down, the black surfaces in your car can absorb heat and can burn your pets little paws. If you’re in a safe area and whenever possible, leave your pets outside in the shade with a bowl of water.
Pet restraints: Which one is best?
To restrain, or to not restrain? That is the question many pet owners ask themselves. While it’s adorable seeing your little bestie exploring the mysterious realm of the backseat and enjoying the fresh breeze of the open window, it can also be incredibly distracting for you if you’re driving, and it can be a risk to their safety. We know, you want your dog to live it’s best life, but it’s not worth the risk of them falling out of the car. Our advice is to always restrain, particularly for long trips.
The benefits of restraining
- Fewer distractions for the driver (seeing your dog leaning too far out the window is always a bit anxiety-inducing)
- Protects dogs in the worst-case scenario of an accident occurring – there is less chance for the dog to become airborne and receive serious injury
- Less chance of the dog falling or jumping out of the moving vehicle – which would pose a risk to other drivers on the road as well
The best way to restrain your dog is with a dog car harness or a dog car seat. Whichever you choose depends on the amount of space you have in your car. Typically, dog car seats occupy more space. Therefore, if you’re carrying a lot of passengers and cargo, or have a small car, a dog car harness might be the way to go.
Here’s some that we found for you…
Dog Car Seats
- The Wanderer Seat Hammock Protector found in BCF, $24.99.
- The All For Paws (AFP) Travel Dog Booster Seat (Small) found at My Pet Warehouse, $99.99.
Dog Car Harnesses
- The Animates Car Safety Dog Harness (Black – Large) found at Pet Barn, $29.99.
- The Dog Harness and Seatbelt found at Kmart, $6.
While you may now have a seating arrangement organised, it’s important to consider whether your car as a whole is safe. The quickest and most sure-fire way to turn a well-functioning car into an unusable wreck is by letting the windscreen deteriorate. Small chips and cracks in your windscreen can become exacerbated by driving conditions, debris, dust, and over-excited pooches. A small problem could turn into a big problem on the road. Do you want to be left with a shattered windscreen while on holidays?
Broken glass and pets don’t mix. A quick windscreen repair can renew your windscreen to a next-to-new condition and strength. Novus Autoglass believes in repairing windscreens wherever a replacement is not necessary—this benefits your wallet and the environment as no unnecessary waste is created. So, get a repair while you can. It’ll save you cash and make you feel even more confident chauffeuring your little furball around.
Windscreens don’t always love our harsh Australian conditions. Understanding how glass reacts to our climate and certain conditions helps you protect your windscreen. To prolong the life of your windscreen, read our tips for protecting your windscreen in different conditions.
Nature isn’t always dog-friendly
Keeping your pets safe means more than buckling up. Before putting the pedal to the metal, consider whether you’re capable of managing your pets healthcare needs while travelling on the road. Australia is rich in culture and nature, and while we humans are fairly good at repelling some of the nasty pests out there, our dogs are slightly more susceptible. Common parasites that can affect dogs include fleas, ticks, heartworms, intestinal worms, and mites.
With pet healthcare, prevention is always the best option. Treating heartworm, intestinal worms and mites can be very expensive, particularly if a lot of damage has already been done internally. Make sure you are up to date with all of your dog’s preventative treatments and vaccinations all year round, especially if you’re planning a trip.
Another procedure you might want to consider (if you haven’t already), is microchipping your pet. During this procedure, a small microchip (the size of a grain of rice) is implanted between the shoulder blades of your dog, just under the skin. This microchip is registered on a database to your details. If your pet ever becomes lost, microchipping makes the event of it being reunited with you much more likely.
Should you get pet insurance?
To give yourself peace of mind, you might want to consider getting pet insurance. Standard pet insurance covers the expenses of any illnesses or injuries due to accidents. A more comprehensive policy may also cover dental, desexing, and other specific events. To learn more about pet insurance, speak to a provider.
Thankfully, we live in a digital world where all of our needs are a click away. Unfortunately, there are way too many options to sort through these days. To find the best pet-friendly accommodation, we recommend finding websites that take the work out of browsing through all of the options and compile a list for you. Sites like Tripadvisor Australia help by ranking the best pet-friendly accommodation in each destination according to the reviews. For example, “10 Best Pet-Friendly Hotels Gold Coast”. This is just one example—there are many other sites that have this function for motels, hotels, short-stay apartments, and short-stay houses. Just jump on Google and have a sniff around!
It’s fun to travel with pets, but going in unprepared can mean having a ‘ruff’ time. Looking after your pet’s safety and your own should always be your number one priority. After all, you want to keep them around for as many doggy years as possible. So, take on board some of our tips and have a paw-some time on the road!
Are you travelling companions slightly less furry but still just as much work? We have some tips for that too. Read about our tips for planning a kid-friendly road trip for the school holidays.
Novus Autoglass is a trusted brand that specialises in windscreen repair and replacement. Next time you’re caught in a bit of a pickle with your windscreen, call out for a Novus expert. They’ll look after you and get your windscreen back to its original glory—getting you back on the road in no time. Call Novus on 13 22 34.