If you own dogs, you know that traveling with your four-legged friend can sometimes be stressful. Whether it is just a few hours’ drive or a four hour flight, there are several things that you can do to make a trip with your canine much more enjoyable for the both of you. Just follow a few comfort and safety doggy traveling tips to arrive at your destination more relaxed and happy.
Many people fear their travelling days would be over if they got a dog. While it may take a little more time to plan at first, having a dog doesn’t have to tie you down.
Once you weigh your options and have a plan on how to travel with a dog efficiently and safely, you may only need to make slight changes for each trip with little compromise.
One important thing to remember is to start planning your dog-friendly trips early.
If you have a young puppy and you like to travel a lot, begin by taking him on short trips right away. Get your puppy used to a dog crate, car seats, strangers and other related aspects of traveling before you try going on a long vacation. Once you're ready, the following tips will help you prepare for a longer adventure with your canine companion.
6 Tips for Long Distance Traveling with Your Dog
I know this sounds a little basic, but I have been in situations before where I needed water for my dog and didn’t have it right on me. Actually, I even had the water, but no dog bowl for it. Even for a short trip, always have food, water, and bowls with you (or you can use dog water bottles for some extra convenience).
You also need to keep enough dog food (or dog treats) with you for the duration of the trip and a collapsible dog bowl. That way if there is a traffic jam, vehicle break-down or other issue, you have what you need to make sure your fur-baby is hydrated and comfortable. Planning for dog supplies in advance will save the headache down the road.
2. Ensure the safety of your dog with the right supplies
Every day I see someone on the road with their pet on their lap. Pet owners do not realize that this is very dangerous (and even illegal) – not just for your dog, but for the people in the car. I actually know someone who got in an accident with their dog riding in the car.
Pet carriers for dogs.
There are many types of pet carriers from sturdy plastic ones to soft bed-like ones. If you will be travelling on an airline, make sure you know that particular airline’s rules and what pet carriers they allow. If you can get a carrier small enough, they will let you put it under your seat in the cabin so your dog is always close by.
You can also get a dog carrier that has compartments for treats, medicines and a small bowl for your journey. If you have to check your dog into baggage, make sure that you chose an airline that has a great record transporting pets.
Harnesses and doggy seat belts.
Alternatively, you can also get a car seat harness for your dog that will strap him in and keep your pooch safe and secure. There are several types of dog seat belts, and some of the best are those that attach to the car seat tethers that are in newer model vehicles.
Our editor Samantha has done an extensive written and video review of several dog car seat belts and dog harnesses which I recommend you check out. Also, make sure you confirm that whatever you have will work great in case of a crash (read more here).
Travel dog crates.
Finally, owners traveling by car should invest in a crash-safe dog travel crates that can be easily attached to car seats for safety reasons so they do not slide. This keeps your dog safe and anxiety-free, especially perfect for longer car trips.
Always make sure that your carrier is perfect for your dog size-wise so that he has enough room to stand and turn around, but not too much so that he'd be sliding in the dog crate. Watch the below video and read the guide to learn how to measure for a perfect crate.
3. Alternatively, secure your dog in his own car seat
Speaking of safety supplies for a trip, booster seats for dogs are one of the best options.
Dog owners going on longer trips in cars can get specially designed dog car booster seats which are perfect for small to medium dogs. They keep your dog strapped and seated but do not contain him like a dog crate would. Make sure to get one with a seat belt option.
The best dog booster seats are those that attach to the top of the car seat or to the center console of your vehicle. If you don’t want a big bulky seat in your car, there are seat belt attachments that go from your dog’s collar or harness directly to the seat belt.
If your dog is not secured in a travel crate, you need to have one of these. It prevents your pet from causing you distractions, and keeps him safe and secure in the event of an accident. I prefer a carrier for my small dog and seat belt harness for my larger dogs.
4. Dogs are prone to motion sickness
Dogs can get motion sickness just like people. For that reason, there are special pills. If your dog suffers from motion sickness, talk to your vet.
There are prescribed medications for this condition that would make riding a much more enjoyable experience for your dog.
You can also check your local big box pet store, or online retail site for non-prescription options. If you are flying or going by train, I would recommend talking to your vet and getting something you know will work. It is not easy to ride in a closed compartment that makes little to no stops while a dog is vomiting.
A sure thing is the best thing for your pet, you, and your fellow travelers. If your dog has never flown, it is best to give him something for motion sickness as a precaution.
If you are doing a road trip in your own vehicle, you can experiment with natural motion sickness remedies for your dog, but I found those rarely work well.
5. You may need to vaccinate your dog (but not too much)
Before you go on an extended trip, bring your pooch to the vet and make sure he is healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations. Don't get a trip spoiled by a sick dog.
Make sure to let your vet know where you are going, especially if you are travelling outside of the country. Some vaccines are required while others are option but recommended. Also, educate yourself on the over-vaccination of dogs and what vaccines to avoid. Some vets like to prescribe more than is needed “just in case,” and that may not be good either.
Different areas have different diseases, and your dog may need special vaccination requirements. If you will be traveling by air, or other public transportation, a health certification by a licensed vet will be required. Some states require that any animal entering their state, by any means, must have a certification (read more on this here).
6. Dog friendly hotels, restaurants and other places
It is best to plan ahead and see what hotels and restaurants are pet friendly (and there are many in the US). Most people have the hotels already planned and reservations made. While there are some that don’t allow dogs at all, most can make arrangements.
Those arrangements may be a $200 deposit or a $200 non-returnable pet fee. You need to make sure the hotel is clear that you will have a dog and that you are clear what the rules are. There is almost nothing more annoying than having to find a new hotel after all day on the road.
Unless you don’t mind going through the drive thru all the time, it is best to plan places to eat as well. Remember that it's illegal to leave your pet in the car no matter what the weather is like. Also, many places have passed laws against pets being left in the car for any reason. So, unless you want to pay heavy fines, I would not recommend it.
It isn’t only for heat stroke, but for other safety reasons too. What if your dog got tangled in the seat belt and choked to death? What if someone broke into your car and stole your furry friend? There are many reasons why leaving your dog alone is not a good idea.
It is always best to plan your dog vacay trip and locate rest stops and eating places that are pet friendly. With the growing number of extreme dog lovers, they are popping up in all kinds of places and most restaurants, hotels and resorts will always accept dog owners.