Having a dog is absolutely the best thing ever! But have you ever had any questions or concerns about how to travel with a dog?
Traveling with your dog can make your trip so much more meaningful. However, it takes some planning, especially if you haven’t done it before.
In this article. we’ll share wisdom about the ins and outs of traveling with your dogs via a few different modes of transportation. Some are more challenging than others for both you and your dog, so you’ll definitely want to read these tips before you finish planning your trip!
The Basics of How to Travel with a Dog
Here is a basic list of things to bring for your dog:
- A leash and harness (preferably with a spare one of each)
- Comfortable and familiar bedding
- Any medications
- Food and treats
- Bowls for food and water
- 2-3 familiar toys and/or chews
- A car restraint if you’re traveling by car but not using the crate in the car
- Paper towels and disinfectant spray
A crate is also one of the most important things you need to bring. This could double as a car restraint or a familiar “home” for your dog when staying in an unfamiliar place. If you have two dogs, you should consider a single crate with a crate divider for these reasons.
You should also bring vaccine documents and contact information for your regular vet. In addition, make sure you bring an internet-connected device in case you need to look up information on dog-friendly lodging and attractions or emergency veterinary care.
Traveling by Car
If your dog has not traveled by car before, you should spend some time in the car together locally. Maybe take a drive in the country. You want to know how your dog reacts to long stretches in a car.
For some dogs, being in the car is better than being given a meat-covered bone; they love it! But there are some dogs that don’t like it. And there are some that are fine with it … until they get car sick.
You need to know these things well in advance of your trip.
What to Do If Your Dog Doesn’t Like the Car
If you really don’t want to or can’t leave your dog at home, there are strategies for socializing him to car travel. It may be that he has only experienced trips to the vet before–which he doesn’t like. So try taking him someplace fun, like a dog park.
And for the trip itself, make his space in the car (a crate is the best choice). Use comfortable, familiar-smelling bedding and add a couple of favorite toys and chews.
What if Your Dog Gets Car Sick?
This should be easy. If your dog has no other issues with car travel, ask your vet to recommend the best ways to treat car sickness. You should also consider getting a pet plan, just to make sure you’re covered in case of emergency. Check out Bivvy for affordable options.
How to Manage the Trip
Try to have lodging booked for at least your first destination. In many places, it can be difficult to find hotels that accept dogs. Those that do might not be located adjacent to the route you’re taking.
There’s a fair chance your dog will sleep for most of the trip. It’s very important, though, that you keep your dog well restrained while in the car.
Schedule hydration and bathroom breaks (for you and your dog) every 2-3 hours. Rest stops on interstate highways will suffice, but if you have time, try to stop someplace where you and your dog can get some decent exercise.
Make sure you and your dog stay well hydrated!
Traveling by Plane
Think very carefully before taking dogs on planes. It can be quite stressful, even risky, for the dogs–especially if they are too big to travel with you in the cabin. Read this sobering article about taking dogs on planes before doing anything else.
Find an Airline
Transporting dogs by plane is very seldom the best option. If you must fly with your dog, though, you need to do some research first.
Only some airlines allow (small) dogs in the cabin if their carriers fit under the seat. Quite a few other airlines will accept dogs as cargo. And some airlines won’t accommodate dogs at all. You need to be sure before booking your own ticket.
Here is a comprehensive review of U.S. airlines that accept pets. Try to look at more than one review site before deciding on an airline, though, since people’s experiences have varied with each one.
Know Policies and Fees Before Booking
When you choose an airline, be sure to read the instructions and policies on pet travel. And read them again just to be sure. And ask questions if you need to. Remember, this is your beloved pet we’re talking about!
Be sure to check what it costs to travel with a pet. Fees vary among airlines, but all will be costly–so be sure you can afford it. For shorter trips, boarding close to home might cost less.
Also, visit the websites of airports you’ll be traveling through. Find out the policies on taking pets out of carriers in terminals and whether they have spots dedicated to “pet relief” where your dog can go to the bathroom and stretch her legs.
Traveling by Train
If you can’t take your dog in the car with you, train travel is a far better option than air travel. Did we day far better? FAR better! When on a train, you either have your pet nearby in your train car or in a special pet car. Never as cargo.
Amtrak generally accepts pets; however traveling for longer than six hours at a time is not recommended since pets must remain in carriers while onboard, including while the train is standing in stations.
Dogs may relieve themselves during longer breaks, but will still need to be confined to small (19 x 14 x 10.5) carriers. So if it’s a longer trip, plan to stop overnight along the way.
Small dogs and cats travel for $26 or 800 Amtrak Guest Rewards points. You should be sure to make a reservation since each train (among those that allow pets) has a five pet per train limit.
Traveling by Ship
Let’s hope more cruise lines figure out how many pet lovers would travel with them if only they could bring their pets!
Some Final Recommendations
Knowing how to travel with a dog can make a big difference in your life. Remember, however, that a dog’s needs differ in many ways from those of a human, so be ready. Prepare well for the trip and you’ll have a great time.
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