When you’re going on a trip, it can be hard to leave your dog behind. With this in mind, what if you could take your dog with you? After all, what better companion could you have on a journey than man’s best friend?
Going on an adventure with your pet pooch is a tantalizing idea. However, traveling with a dog takes a lot of careful planning. If something goes wrong, it could ruin both your vacation and other people’s trips too. Here are some pointers on how to travel with dogs.
CAN YOUR DOG COME ALONG?
We’ll start by asking the most obvious question: Is it actually feasible to take your dog to your destination? Some places simply won’t allow you to bring along animals. If your dog needs to stay behind, find a good kennel for them while you’re away. You could also hire a friend you trust to serve as a pet sitter.
PLANNING THE TRIP
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff. Hypothetically, let’s say your dog can come with you on your trip. What do you do now?
First, make sure your pet has a dog collar with up-to-date information. This will be come in handy if (God forbid!) you lose track of your dog while you’re on vacation. If you really want to go the extra mile safety-wise, you could implant a microchip under your dog’s skin (don’t worry—they’re tiny and painless).
Before you consider traveling with your dog, make sure they’re well-trained and know how to behave. If they start misbehaving while you’re out and about, it could potentially land you in a lot of trouble. At the very least, you could annoy other people.
Anyway, let’s go over your transportation options and some other pet travel tips.
Frankly, traveling by air with a dog isn’t the ideal option. Airlines don’t think of your pet as a beloved friend; they just see them as cargo. Would you want to spend hours cooped up in a plastic kennel and stuffed in place that’s cold, smells like gas and offers no companionship? Probably not.
This doesn’t mean that plane travel is completely off the table, however. It’s not the best option, but it’s still an option. If you have a smaller dog, for example, you might be able to keep them with you. You’ll just need to keep them in a carrier that fits under the seat ahead of you.
Also, some dog-loving business people know the difficulties of traveling with canine friends. They’ve created airlines that genuinely care for your pets and don’t put too big a strain on your budget. For example, Pet Airways treats pets like actual passengers: They fly in the main passenger cabin, not the cargo hold (no humans allowed, by the way).
One drawback to pet-friendly airlines is their limited availability. You can book a flight only if you live in certain cities. If none of these airlines offer flights in your area, you’ll need to go with the kennel and the cargo hold or pick another transportation option.
Traveling by car is a much better option if you’re taking your dog with you. For one thing, if your dog needs to make a pit stop, you can pull over and let them do their business.
More likely than not, your dog has taken rides in cars before. It could have been to the vet, for instance, or to the park. If your dog has never ridden in a car before, try to acclimate them to your vehicle before going on your trip. If they’re not comfortable riding with you, driving could be a painful experience both for them and for you.
Also, traveling in cars could have negative connotations for some dogs (maybe you drove them out to the vet and they had a bad time there). In this case, try building up some positive connotations. You could, say, drive them to the park. You could also take them to the pet shop and get a treat for them.
If positive reinforcement doesn’t work, your vet might be able to subscribe some anti-anxiety meds for your dog. It’s best if you can avoid this option, though—if your dog responds badly to the meds, it could make for a severely bad trip.
Tips for Planning Ahead
If you’ve settled on traveling by car with your dog, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Plan on taking rest stops every 3-5 hours. That’ll give you and your dog time to stretch your legs, take a restroom break and drink some water.
- Look up veterinary hospitals in the areas you’ll be traveling through. The less time it takes you to get to them, the better (an hour or less is best).
Also, here’s a list of things that you should bring along:
- Your dog’s leash
- A doggie seat belt or kennel
- Water and dog bowls
- Doggie treats
- A dog bed or blanket
- A couple chew toys
- Any medications that your dog needs
- Medical records for your dog
- Plastic bags for picking up after your dog
WHEN YOU GET THERE
We’ve talked a lot about taking a trip with your dog. Now let’s look at what to do when you and your pet reach your destination.
Going Camping with Your Dog
Enjoying the great outdoors with your dog can be fantastic. You can wander around during the day and snuggle in your tent at night.
Before you decide to go camping, however, you should know that many state and national parks don’t allow you to bring dogs along. Check out a campground’s policies before settling on one. Also, be conscientious when you camp—don’t leave a mess. You don’t want to leave your carabiner, flashlight, and other equipment just laying around, especially small items that are harmful for you dog to eat!
Finding a Dog-Friendly Hotel
If you’re planning to stay at a hotel with your dog, you’ll want to map everything out well in advance. First and foremost, make sure that your hotel welcomes pets. This means more than checking that they allow pets. Do your research on the hotel and be certain that it caters to your dog’s needs.
Some hotels offer wonderful amenities for dogs, including:
- Special beds for dogs
- Sheet turndown service (it even includes treats on their pillows)
- Doggie day care
- Spa services for dogs
Ask the hotel what kinds of dog-friendly amenities they have. And this could probably go without saying, but pay close attention to how much everything costs. Lots of hotels require a non-refundable deposit for pets. On top of that, you may need to pay a daily pet fee and even an additional cleaning fee (you should consider these when deciding whether or not to take your dog on your trip).
Staying at a Dog-Friendly B&B or Inn
There aren’t a lot of inns and B&Bs that can handle dogs, but they’re out there. Again, research an inn or a B&B thoroughly before making reservations. It could take some work to find a place that welcomes dogs. If you do, be considerate and follow their rules to the letter.
BE SAFE AND HAVE FUN WITH YOUR DOG
Taking a trip with your dog can be a great experience. You just need to plan things out carefully. By following these pet travel tips, you can have a wonderful vacation with your dog.