Here are some tips on traveling with the family dog:
1. Go for a test drive
Before you try to take your dog on a long road trip, bus/train ride or plane trip, go for a test drive. If you haven’t brought your dog with you anywhere yet, even on short car rides to the nearest supermarket, then be ready for a long preparation. A dog that can be ready for travel must calmly handle a short trip. The ideal test drive with a dog is a 2 to 4-hour long road trip and see how they will react. Long before you take your vacation to a faraway place, make sure your dog can behave on short trips. Then try taking them with you for longer and longer trips (gradually). If you found out that they experience motion sickness or get agitated or anxious on the ride, it’s probably best for them if they are left at home.
2. Make sure you book pet-friendly accommodations
If your pet passed the test drive, it’s only then you can decide to take the dog with you on your travels. The next step is to find pet-friendly accommodations. Before you book any hotel, make sure you check their pet policies first. Check if there are extra fees and be upfront about the size and breed of the dog you are bringing. Hotels can be pet-friendly, but it doesn’t mean that there’s no extra cost. Also, check pet-friendly restaurants and parks nearby. If your dog loves the outdoors, it will probably not be happy without having some room to stretch and get active.
3. Choose activities wisely
When traveling, remember it’s a vacation for your pet also. Make sure your planned activities are pet-friendly unless there’s someone who will be left on the hotel or any safe place to keep an eye on the dog. Choose wisely as to what places are best for your dog. For instance, if your pup is a house pet who loves being indoors, it’s not good to take them hiking across the Grand Canyon. A dog who has only lived in the farm may not know what to do on a trip to a metropolitan city like Manhattan. Assist them and let them get acquainted with the new place, new sounds, new smells and new people first before completely throwing them out of their comfort zone. Don’t overwhelm them or surround with too many strangers, as they may not know how to react accordingly.
4. Visit your pet’s veterinarian before leaving
Before you take your dog for travel, make sure you visit your vet first. This is especially vital if your dog has a condition that needs medication and care. Before traveling by plane, you must have your dog checked even if you think they are perfectly healthy because certification of health must be provided to the airline not less than 10 days before the flight. Airlines require rabies and vaccination certificates (but you must take care of these things too, even if your travel is not by plane). You are responsible to make sure that your dog is healthy and safe for flying. Ask your vet if it would be best for your dog to be tranquilized for the plane trip.
5. Put them on a crate
To keep your pet safe, it’s best to keep your dog in a crate. A crate is especially required for airline travel. Bringing a crate with you can also keep your pet from getting lost or getting into trouble in a hotel or at your host’s house.
Make sure the crate you buy:
- Is large enough to allow the dog to stand, turn and lie down
- Is strong enough, with handles and grips
- Has ventilation on both sides to provide airflow
- Has a leak-proof bottom
Place a comfortable mat on the crate, together with your dog’s favorite toy and a water bottle.
6. Bring enough food and water (and medications, if necessary)
Bring enough supply of your dog’s regular food for the entire trip and add a few extras, just in case. This is especially applicable for dogs on a restrictive diet, or dogs who are picky eaters. If your pet has an easily upset stomach, you might need to pack extra bottled water for him/her too. And while on the trip, always have water ready to keep the dog hydrated on the way. If your pet needs specific meds, be sure to refill it before your trip and make sure you have enough supply.
7. Pack some doggy travel must-haves
If you’re planning to go on outdoor adventures with your dog,
here are some travel must-haves:
- Collapsible bowls – Instead of bringing bulky bowls, buy collapsible ones to save some space. Let your dog get used to using it a week or so before your travel.
- Favorite toys – To make sure your dog won’t get bored on the trip, make sure you bring some few new toys and a couple of old favorites to keep the dog amused and occupied.
- Identification – In the event that your dog accidentally gets away from you on your trip, having proper identification can increase the chances of getting your dog back. Make sure your dog has a sturdy leash and collar with ID tags that contain information such as the dog’s name, your name, your phone number and proof of vaccination. You may consider a permanent form of ID like a microchip, in case the dog loses the leash as well. Always bring a picture of your dog along with you.
- Extra collar – It’s better to be safe than sorry, so always bring an extra collar in case the leash your dog is wearing gets broken or misplaced.
- Pet first aid kit – As you bring your own first aid, make sure you also have one for your beloved pet. Dogs have different medical needs from humans, so they need their own kit. It will also be handy if you’re prepared for any doggy emergency, so make sure you have a contact number of the nearest 24-hour veterinary emergency clinic/hospital from the place you are staying in.
- Blankets/jacket – If your dog is used to sleeping with a blanket, don’t leave his/her blanket at home. When traveling to a place with a different climate (especially a colder one) a jacket is a must-have for the dog, too.
- Brush – For some dogs, new climates mean more shedding. A brush can help ensure that your car or hotel room doesn’t get the majority of fur.
- LED collar light – If you’re planning on outdoor adventures during the night with your dog, make sure his/her collar is equipped with an LED light so you will be able to spot your dog no matter how dark it is.
- Hands-free leash – As you run or go on a hike or take a long journey, it will be such a relief to not need to hold the leash at all times. A hands-free leash provides convenience for dog-loving travelers.
- Dog boots – when traveling during winter or going on rough trails, it’s best to protect your dog’s paws with booties. At first, the dog may hate them, but make sure you train them to get used to wearing it before your vacation.
- Hiking pack – If you want to take your dog hiking or trailing, let them help carry some equipment – not all necessities must be carried by you. Hiking packs or backpacks for dogs can get handy for carrying their own water and food.
- Two-person tent – For safety reasons, your dog needs to be inside the tent, if you’re planning to go on camping with your pet. The outside temperatures and weather can be harsh for them, so it’s best to keep them inside a tent with you during sleeping time. Give them ample space to stretch and relax.
Remember, your pet is just like another child. It is your job to keep them happy and safe while you’re away from home. Make your trip enjoyable and stress-free for you, your family and your dog by preparing ahead of time.