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The definitive top 20 dog travel checklist

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

Multi clip dog lead from ManMat
Another option for a close lead is a bungee lead. These are great for shock absorbing and stopping any jarring when a dog pulls suddenly. We have used these in the past but now prefer the multi clip lead. Bungee Shock absorbing lead £12.99 from
Bungee dog lead

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
Flexi 8m Dog Lead

2. Collar / Harness & ID tags

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

Julius K9 Dog Harness

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:

Pillows & Paws Dog Tag

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

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

An item that is easily overlooked is water for your dog while travelling. Even on a cool or cold day a dog can easily dehydrate when travelling as it can be a stressful experience that causes stress panting. Two of our dogs suffer this (and worse) so we always have to travel with a ready supply of water. Our dogs also get travel sick so having water to rinse down the dogs is also useful. A handy tip is to always travel with too much water than too little. Motorway service areas and pubs are starting to catch up by providing a dog bowl but it’s always safer to carry your own. A handy extra is a collapsible drinking bowl. This collapses down flat and can be taken with you when walking so that your dog always has something to drink from if needed. This travel dog bowl is £4.49 from
Collapsible travel dog bowl

5. Food & Treats

It’s an obvious must have, but there are a few hints and tips when it comes to food and treats. Try to make sure that you take the food that your dog is used to with you. Changing food suddenly can have dramatic effect on your dog’s system. This is the last thing you want when staying in rental accommodation or a hotel! If you’re going on a long-distance trek with your dog either arrange food drops at each of your stop points ahead of time, or wean your dog on to a common canned food a couple of weeks before your trip. This way you ensure that you don’t have to carry the additional 5Kg of weight with you. Most larger villages have somewhere you will be able to get a can of dog food. I’ve had to do this on a 5-day trek over the Lake District. It really does pay to plan ahead. Treats can be hotbed of debate. We use tiny cubes of cheese in polythene bag. The dogs love them, they’re easy to obtain when away from home and the dogs will do almost anything for them (including pretending to be trained!). Another option is primula squeezy cheese. They even use this for the Wolves at Dartmoor zoo! Chews are also brilliant at keeping your little pot of energy entertained for ten minutes. Take a pack and just give them one as required. You may want to do tests at home before you leave for your holiday as too many chews, or the wrong type can have an ‘undesirable’ effect on your dog’s digestive system. We use these, they’re small and have the added benefit of keeping our Poodle’s teeth clean!
Dentalife Dog Chews

6. Poo bags and screw lid container

Every responsible dog owner knows to ‘bag it and bin it’. Most dog friendly holiday accommodation providers will provide doggy poo bags. Environmentally friendly destinations like Pillows & Paws will also either provide compostable bags or a special dog poo dispensing point.  If you’re out on a walk your dog is always bound to do his business within the first 200 meters of the walk. You’re then left with the option of carrying the bag until you find a suitable bin or for the rest of the walk. To avoid having a delightful odour bracelet for the entirety of your walk, take a screw lid pot with you. You can pop in the dog waste bag and forget about it until you return to civilisation. We use the leftover tub like this one of Bicarbonate of Soda. Our preferred dog poo bags are from Ecohound. They are easy to use and compostable too.

7. Bed / Crate

When travelling, a soft dog bed can be a better alternative to your dog’s usual sleeping arrangements as a soft bed will squish down into a small old suitcase or bag.  It is also wise to take your dog’s crate with you when you travel. Most crates fold down to a small enough size to get in the boot of your car anyway. A crate is a great way of making sure that your dog’s movements are limited when staying in rental accommodation. As well as restricting the dog, many dogs feel more relaxed especially if they are accustomed to sleeping in a create at home. At Pillows & Paws Cottages we have crates and dog beds available to borrow for free. Hints & Tips: If you’re buying a crate make sure you get one big enough to house your sleeping dog and allow for space for a wall mounted water bowl too. Bowls on the floor get spilled very easily in a confined space, resulting in wet bedding and an unhappy dog. A good quality crate will fold down easily to make transportation easier and will have two access doors. If you buy a wire crate make sure that you put a towel under the crate on any wooden floors to avoid scratching the floor. Our recommendation: A deluxe dog crate includes a few upgraded extras that are worth the investment. A dog crate can be quite heavy so you need a handle that isn’t just a couple of strands of wire. Some crates have a much-improved carrying handle. Others, like our recommendation below, also include a soft bed that is fitted to the crate itself.  Note, if your dog isn’t a chewer, a soft nylon crate is a good option. These beds are also less noisy when travelling. Deluxe crate from Lords & Labradors one is £42.95
Luxury dog 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

Arrow Dog Barrier from Amazon at £29.99
Halfords dog barriers from £29.99 plus fitting
Travel crate Housing your dog in a crate while travelling has a few advantages and disadvantages. The dog is likely to be more relaxed as it’s a familiar environment (despite the weird sensation of it moving!) but the dog crate you use at home are normally a rectangular cuboid. This is great in the house but it will likely take up a lot of space in the car and often just doesn’t fit the dimensions of the car. If you have an estate or hatchback car you have the option of dog crates that are designed to fit the boot of the car. It’s an investment as these crates can be pricey. An example is this Ellie Bo crate from Lords & Labradors at £43.95
Ellie Bo Mobile Dog Crate
Dog seat belt (with harness)  If your dog travels on the back seat a great option is a harness and a seat belt. The dog wears the harness (see our harness section) and then a seat belt clips to the D ring on the harness and then into the normal seatbelt holster. Don’t clip the seat belt to the dog’s collar. In the event of a sudden stop this could result in serious injury to the dog. This Me & My Pets seat belt from Amazon is  only £1.99. Our dogs travel in the boot of the car so we use an elasticated bungee to connect from the D ring on the dog’s harness to a back-seat head rest. It stops the dogs from getting tangled up and keeps the belt out of any vomit. These are the closest we can find that are similar to ours: SlowTon adjustable belt with a built in bungee. Available from Amazon from £10.99

9. Medication & record of vaccinations/Microchip / Anxiety plug in

If your dog has any form of ailment that they need regular medication for, you’ll find yourself travelling back up the Motorway if you forget it!

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.
Adaptil Dog Stress Diffuser

10. Drying Towels

When I’m out and about with the dog, I’m always amazed at how wet and muddy they can get. At home we have an old towel in the porch for wiping the dog’s feet when they come in off the wet grass. More extreme methods are needed when they go in the car (see ‘dog bag’ below!) A drying towel just makes life easy, keep it in the car or in a travel bag and fold it in on itself so that it has a clean side and a dirty side. We don’t have a recommended product, any old absorbent towel will do – just make sure you bring enough for how long you’ll be away. Dog Bag Many of our guests swear by dog bags for their dog. I’m not convinced that the dog won’t get too hot, but they are an option if it’s not practical to cover the whole of the back seat of the car. Another issue is that you can’t use the dog’s harness to secure them in the car. A dog bag is a towel bag that you put the dog in before they get in the car. Available in many different sizes from Amazon, this is a good example.

11. Brushes

I hate to think how many times we forget the dog brushes when we go away and have to buy new ones. We have an ever-growing collection of brushes. If you’re lucky enough to have a short haired dog, this item probably doesn’t concern you. Alternatively, if you have a longer haired dog, or a breed that doesn’t moult you will definitely need to take brushes with you. We find that even after the briefest run in the woods, our miniature Poodle returns home with a collection of pine needles stuck in his woolly coat. Salt and sand also seem to have an amazing ability to cause mats in the coats of our dogs. If we don’t brush these out, the dog’s coat quickly becomes matted and needs to be cut out instead. We use two main types of dog brush, although depending on the breed of your dog and the type of coat they have, there may be brushes better suited to your needs. General coat brush We use this brush to give the dogs a good brush through their coat. The wire bristles have a rounded end so that they don’t scratch the skin. The bristles are also mounted in a spongy material which reduces the chance of pushing too hard and catching in the hair.
Mat teaser / slicker brush When we find mats in our dog’s coat we slowly remove the mat with a slicker comb/ brush like the one below: This has to be done with care as it has hundreds of sharp wires that gently tease out the hair from the matted coat. Go slowly or your dog with not appreciate your help! If you’re choosing a new brush, try to get one with a small head and with a padded base to the comb. This avoids you from pressing too hard and can get you into awkward spots more easily.
Dog's slicker brush

12. Seat Covers & Throws

Closely following the drying towels is a seat cover for the car if your dog travels on the back seat of the car. Our dogs travel in the boot of our estate car where we have a rubber mat covering the entire floor of the boot.  When your you get back from the beach or a muddy Dartmoor walk, you’ll be glad of covers that stop the muck spreading. We’re not users of seat covers in our main car, so we have had to rely on the wisdom of others. These covers were recommended to us by a friend and now we have bought some for Melanie’s car when she does Canicross with Meg! The Bonve seat covers, available one cover the back seat, the seat back, the doors and the back of the seats in front. They’re non slip and waterproof. Not bad for £18.99

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!

13. Insurance

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

This one is a great tip that not many people think about. Dogs can be messy and if it’s not mud, their wagging tails can knock off all manner of things from low tables. At Pillows & Paws Cottages we have easy wipe floors but less dog friendly accommodation may have wood or even worse, carpeted floors. Carry a universal stain remover with you to make sure that you don’t end up losing a damage security deposit after your stay.  We highly recommend Eco Gurus natural cleaning paste (it’s brilliant) and in a small tin! See it at Amazon here for £9.99


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

We ALWAYS travel with our trusty Marigold rubber gloves and cleaning products for our dogs. We keep a stock of poo bags and eco-friendly wet wipes handy to clean up after our travel-sick dogs. If you’re going somewhere in the countryside (why would go anywhere else?) you will likely also need dog shampoo and Tomato Ketchup. I haven’t completely lost my marbles! There is something irresistible for dogs when it comes to fox poo. Our dogs seem to have a homing beacon setting for the stuff in a 20-acre field! If you have ever smelled fox poo you will understand that you need to remove the scent ASAP. There are a number of dog shampoo products on the market but for some reason we find that tomato ketchup does the trick every time. We rub the tomato ketchup into the offending site on the dog and leave for a couple of minutes for it to do its stuff. Rinse out the ketchup then wash the dog with your normal shampoo. At Pillows & Paws Cottages we have a dedicated outside bath where you can wash the dog – cool huh? Our preferred dog shampoo is the 6 in 1 shampoo from Copper & Grace. You can buy it from Amazon here for a rather expensive £12.97

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

If you’re staying away from home for an extended period it’s a good idea to take a small first aid kit for small injuries. This a brief list of hazards to watch out for:
  • Broken glass
  • Barbed wire
  • Playing fetch with a stick
  • Aggressive dogs
Our first aid kit includes: Antiseptic Wound wash – to clean out a wound before you staunch the bleeding Fullers earth to staunch bleeding Thin sanitary pads (fantastic as wound dressings)
  • Bandages
  • Safety pins
  • Tweezers
  • Blunt ended scissors
  • Self adhesive tape
  • Vinyl gloves
  • Cotton wool
A simple first aid kit shouldn’t cost more than £15. This one on Amazon appears to have the majority of items you may need for basic issues. In addition to a first aid kit we also carry a tick removal tool. Where there are domestic & wild mammals (everywhere!) there are ticks. We find that even if our dogs have had a tick treatment or have been wearing a tick collar, we still get the odd tick. We’ll be adding a more in-depth article to our blog about ticks.
In addition to a first aid kit we also carry a tick removal tool. Where there are domestic & wild mammals (everywhere!) there are ticks. We find that even if our dogs have had a tick treatment or have been wearing a tick collar, we still get the odd tick. We’ll be adding a more in-depth article to our blog about ticks. This set has three different sizes for less than £5.00. When you use a tick remover, slide the tool under the main body of the tick. Once you’re sure the tool is under the tick, slowly twist in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction and the tick will come away from the dog. Don’t just pull straight out as you will leave the mouthparts of the tick embedded in the dog’s skin. If this happens, use tweezers to remove the remaining bits. Squish the tick in a tissue and dispose of in a bin. Treat the wound with an antiseptic wipe or antiseptic wash to disinfect it.

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

Last and probably least is a travel stairgate or dog fence. A travel stairgate keeps your dog out of areas in your accommodation that they shouldn’t be in! A stairgate also means that your dog doesn’t have to spend all the time in the accommodation in their crate. Good dog friendly accommodation providers will provide stair gates for you (or have them built in).

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.

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