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Dog-Friendly Trip To Epping Forest & Butler’s Retreat With Pet Travel Safety Tips From Confused.com

Don't let Basil’s aloof demeanour fool you, there's (slightly) more to him than sauntering around town like he owns the place and pouting for the camera. Off duty he loves nothing more than cutting loose, running like Animal from The Muppets and occasionally (just Victoria Beckham), cracking a smile!

Whether it’s going to see my folks in the Wirral or hitting our favourite country park, these types of carefree days generally involve a trip in the car. I’m mostly angelic when it comes to ensuring that Basil is buckled up in safety but according to research from insurance comparison site Confused. com, 40% of us are not restraining our pets properly in the car. On the rare occasions when I’ve popped Basil on my lap for a quick 10min journey (as a passenger obvs), I’m with the 76% who aren’t aware of the consequences of doing this - up to a £2,500 fine for driving without due care and attention, and the possibility of invalidating our expensive car insurance. In light of this I’m fully converted so no more snuggle journeys on mum’s lap for Baz!

A Barkarama-approved ride out is Epping Forest – an area of ancient woodland near Epping, straddling the border between Greater London and Essex. The place is massive but we like Connaught Waters and Chingford Plain (which you can also get to by train from London), for its pretty greenery and flat, forest trails.

A good spot to head to afterwards is Butler’s Retreat, a beautifully restored Essex Barn serving tea, coffee, delicious cakes (I recommend the Pastel De Natas), salads and hearty dog-walking dishes. Dogs are allowed to join you at the counter while order but then it's out to the picnic benches so it's best to visit in the warmer months. 

With summer coming up there’s plenty of ops for a great dog day out. So whether you choose to follow in our paw steps to Epping or try elsewhere, take the lead from Confused. com with these handy tips to keep your pet passengers safe while driving, and to avoid breaking the law.

Restrain your dog – not only for their safety but yours so they can't distract you as you drive. The law recommends using either a seat belt harness, a crate, a pet carrier or a guard. We use a seat belt harness for Basil from the RAC Pet Travel Shop.

Plan for long journeys – if you are going to be travelling far, exercise your dog well before you travel to promote in-car snoozing not restlessness. Bring water, and stop every few hours for a leg stretch and water/toilet break. 

Calm a nervous dog – regardless of how much your dog will enjoy themselves at the other side, some dogs hate travelling in the car and worse – get carsick. You can help with the latter by driving calmly and smoothly, but also try to make positive associations with travelling in the car. Confused. com recommends giving your dog a food treat as a reward for getting into the car, or travel a short distance and then play their favourite game. If the problem persists then talk to your vet about alternative options such as training techniques, calming supplements or a dog appeasing pheromone (D.A.P) collar, which releases synthetic hormones that can temporarily calm your dog.

Never leave your dog in a hot car – I might be stating the obvious here but some crazy people STILL do! And don't just equate hot cars to summer months either, as even in winter we can have days with unseasonal high temperatures, which make the car stuffy and uncomfortable for your pet. According to the RSPCA, if it's 22 degrees outside it can reach up to 47 degrees in a car within the hour and dogs can die of heatstroke within 15 minutes. Also if a particularly hot day (and you don't have AC in your car) consider whether you really need to make the journey. I had a horrid experience once with Basil. We got stuck in a traffic jam not that far from home and he got so hot, I was convinced it was going to kill him. If it's a cold day and you'll only be gone for a short time, park in the shade. Leave a non-spill travel bowl of water, lowering the windows slightly, and use a sun windshield similar to the ones that are used for children.

With all this handy pet travel safety advice, I hope you and you pup have a wonderful and safe summer filled with super days out and adventures. 

For more info…
Epping Forest > Visiteppingforest.org
Butler’s Retreat > Larderlondon.co.uk/venues/the-larder-at-butlers-retreat
RAC Pet Travel Shop > Racshop.co.uk/pet-travel

This post is in association with Confused. com and all photos are courtesy of Racheloatespetphotography.com

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