Nothing says summer like a great Australian road trip – the long open highway, the lure of new destinations, playing ‘Eye Spy’ with the kids … and the realisation your increasingly agitated doggo has never spent more than 20 minutes in the car at any one time.

Plenty of pet owners know that sinking feeling – ‘Have we really thought this through?’ – but that shouldn’t turn you off making room at your feet for your beloved pup the next time you set off on a lengthy journey.

 After all, a holiday wouldn’t be complete without sharing it with your favourite four-legged friend.

 All it takes to ensure happy times on the road is a little foresight and planning, with the following tips and tricks bound to have you smiling from here to the back of Bourke.

  1. Never – and we mean never – leave your doggo alone in the car. There’s no such thing as ‘I left the window open a little’ or ‘I was only going to be a minute or two’. When it comes to dogs, heat and cars, the only responsible thing to do is be responsible and let them out.
  1. Start off small. Just as a baby needs to crawl before it can walk, your doggo will relish the chance to get used to frequent lengthier drives before setting off on a three-day crossing of the Nullabor.
  1. Familiarity breeds joy. Doggos love routine and that’s why they will relish the chance to have their usual food and treats on the road, along with their no-spill dog bowl. Just because they’ve left home doesn’t mean a little bit of home can’t come with them.
  1. You know that feeling when you’re a passenger in a car and desperate to wee. Now imagine not being able to tell the driver of your dilemma. Regular bathroom breaks are essential, along with frequent chances for your fur-friend to stretch their legs.
  1. BYO bed. While you or your children may get a kick out of sleeping in new surroundings, it’s a good idea to pack a comfort from home to ensure your doggo feels more at ease when it’s time to bunk down for the night.
  1. Imagine the nightmare you would experience if your doggo wandered off from home. Lessen that fear by ensuring they can be easily identified, with a name tag bearing up-to-date contact details a good idea and a microchip an even better one.
  1. Pulling up for the night? Make sure you plan ahead and check the campsite or accommodation provider is pet-friendly. This may seem obvious but you would be surprised how many doggo lovers have been caught out when there is no room at the inn for their four-legged friend. You can use the PatchPets app to find local fur-friendly accommodation.
  1. Nothing puts a damper on a road trip like a sick passenger, especially one that can’t warn you they’re about to throw up. One way to lessen that risk is feed your pooch early in the morning before you hit the road, while a pre-trip consult with a vet is a good idea if your dog is prone to car sickness.
  1. Hot Tip No. 1 – water, water, water. Oh, and some frozen ice blocks are also worth keeping close to hand for keeping your little mate cool.
  1. Hot Tip No. 2 – seek the shade. That may mean blacking out windows with a towel or window shade and while your pooch may not love that as they’ll miss looking outside, your first priority is always the welfare of your doggo.

 Happy travels!