We love our pets, and dogs especially in my personal case. It's understandable that you'd want to take your beloved pup with you while you travel and the fact that you're reading this suggests you know it would be an undertaking. There are precautions and guidelines that every dog owner should follow if they're to travel with their pet, for the safety, health, and happiness of both dog and owner (not to mention everyone else in the car).
Building a list from personal experience and several different reputable sources (i.e. Cesar Milan, PETA, and the American Kennel Club for starters), these tips for traveling with dogs should help you on your way to traveling happiness, with your dog at your side. The rules vary slightly if you are planning on traveling by car, plane, bus, train, and/or boat so be aware of the differences the modes of travel may make on your dog.
- It's always a good idea to travel with a dog crate. This way, whether you're going by plane or car, your dog has a safe place to rest. A crate can also protect both you and the dog in case you have to slam on your brakes, plus it gives the dog a definitive space to claim. Using a crate in the hotel room is also recommended. If you're going by air, airlines require a regulation specific crate before travel.
- Of course, bring food, water, and any medications your dog needs. This is a no brainer. However - do not feed the dog while in the car or moving. Travel with the dog on an empty stomach as dogs have a tendency to get motion sickness and the empty stomach will help. Take frequent breaks and walk, feed and water your dog in small increments. Also bringing a toy is probably a good idea to keep him/her company.
- You must bring ID tags while traveling, no matter where you're going. Every city in the country has vaccination requirements of dogs, specifically rabies, and dogs have to be properly tagged as such. Plus, if you get separated from your dog, it's a good idea if him/her has something that links it back to you.
- Don't leave your dog in a parked car if no one's inside. It doesn't matter if it's not hot outside, the car can become like an oven in no time and your dog can get easily dehydrated. While you're on the road, ventilate the car well but don't let your dog stick his head out of the window as this can cause eye injuries.
- Don't let your dog ride in an open truck bed. Sorry, this is a personal pet peeve but it's incredibly dangerous for your pet and can cause injury or even death. Please don't endanger your dog.
- Injured, sick, or pregnant dogs should not travel. If you're worried about your dog making the trip, you can always take him/her to a vet check up before you leave.
- If you're traveling by airplane, make sure you understand the airline regulations, have proof of vaccination and identification for your dog ready at hand. You must also have an airline approved crate.
- Tell your friends/kids not to annoy the dog while traveling. We know the kids think it's funny to tease the dog but it'll make the dog more anxious than it already is. Keep a positive energy and the dog will rest easier, according to Cesar Milan.
- If you exercise your dog well before you travel it will rest easier in the crate and be more inclined to sleep during the journey. It is not recommended to medicate your dog so it'll be calmer. Instead try behavioral tactics, like exercise.
- Don't leave lodging till the last minute as it can be hard to find dog-friendly hotels. There are resources for finding hotels that take dogs so plot a route and make sure the hotel allows it before you set your high hopes on a particular place. BringFido.com is an excellent site that has a ton of resources for traveling pet owners in any part of the world. You can plot your whole road trip around pet-friendly destinations.
- Also, it's not the best idea to leave your dog unattended in a hotel room for several hours, in or outside a crate. The dog can disturb your neighbors with barking and howling if it feels it's been abandoned. If possible, either take your dog with you or find a sitter to keep your pet company.
- Try your best to keep up with walks when traveling. Walk your pet as soon as you get to the hotel to release the pent up energy from traveling.
I know this is a lot of information and a lot of don'ts but have no fear. It's really not as hard as it sounds, if you've never traveled with a dog before. Just make sure the pet is used to traveling in a car and isn't too anxious being in a crate before you go. Frequent stops, ventilation, and positive energy are perhaps the top tips anyone can give you. Just make sure you know how to read your dog and know what he/she needs and you'll all be happy!
There are tons of resources out there for people traveling with pets and they're all pretty useful. However, if you want someone to do your planning for you, give our travel agents a call and they can help set up a travel plan around you and your pet's needs.
Have fun with your pup and happy travels!