Traveling with your dog has many advantages: you don’t have to feel like you’re abandoning a family member, you can avoid the costs of kenneling and you get to share your vacation with your most loyal friend.
However, dog travel comes with its own set of challenges: ensuring your dog has adequate space and exercise, feeding him and dealing with the possibility of motion sickness.
Search for a Dog-Friendly Hotel
More and more dog owners are taking their beloved dogs with them on vacations. Traveling with your dog can be a rewarding experience. However, finding dog-friendly hotels on the road can get to be quite a task.
Policies for hotels that admit dogs vary from hotel to hotel. While some doggie-friendly hotels require a deposit from guests bringing dogs, others demand that dogs remain crated if left unsupervised in the room. Search for a dog-friendly hotel and then call each individual one to see its specifications regarding dogs.
Have fun traveling with your dog and choosing the dog-friendly hotel that is right for you.
Preparing for Dog Travel
Before you begin traveling with your dog, you should help your dog become comfortable being in your car. Start by simply sitting with your dog in the car. To keep your dog calm, don’t make this first encounter with the car too long, and don’t make a big deal about it. Your dog should see travel as a normal, familiar event rather than a source of fear and anxiety.
The next step is sitting in the car with your dog while the engine runs. Once Rover’s used to that, a short drive around the block can be attempted. Slowly increase the time you spend traveling with your dog in the car and he’ll soon be fully adapted to longer rides.
Dog Crates and Dog Travel Safety
Dog travel is often safer with dog crates that can prevent your dog from leaping onto your lap while you’re driving and protect the dog if there’s an accident. If you decide to use a dog crate on your next road trip with your dog, make sure that the dog crate is large enough that the dog can stand, turn and lie down.
Toys, treats, and your dog’s bedding can be put in the dog crate to make his travel more comfortable. Secure the crate so that it doesn’t slide and knock your dog around. If you drive a truck, dog crates or protective kennels should be securely attached to the truck bed.
Dog crates may not be practical for those who drive compact cars that don’t have enough room to accommodate a crate. If this is the case, pet harnesses that attach to seat belts are available. Pet harnesses provide some measure of protection for your pet, and prevent the dog from roaming freely in the car.
Another important aspect to remember when it comes to car travel with your dog is that keeping him in the back seat is safest. Along with keeping the dog away from the driver, securing a dog in the back seat prevents him from getting suffocated by airbags, should they deploy in an accident.
Identification Tags and Dog Travel
To limit the chance of losing your dog in a foreign place, make sure that you have identification tags as well as a few leashes for your dog. Ideally, you should have two identification tags on your dog: one set engraved with your home address and the other set labeled with the address where you’ll stay while traveling.
Further minimize the possibility of losing your dog by packing at least two leashes.
Because you’ll have to let your dog out of the car about every two hours to exercise and let him drink, it is crucial that you have a leash handy. If you have two leashes and lose one, you don’t have to risk letting the dog out of the car unleashed.
Motion Sickness and Dog Travel
Some dogs, like people, suffer from motion sickness. If your pet does suffer from motion sickness, you have two options.
The first is to abandon dog travel entirely and either kennel your pet or hire a dog sitter. The other option is to talk to your pet’s veterinarian before traveling with your dog. Motion sickness medication can make dog travel bearable for both you and your carsick pup.
Tips for Traveling with Your Dog
Traveling with your dog requires some preparation. In addition to dog crates, pet harnesses, dog toys and identification tags, you should have up-to-date proof of vaccinations and immunizations. Carry a photo of your dog along with his health records, just in case he’s lost.
Call ahead to campgrounds, hotels and anywhere else you’re staying when traveling with your dog. While some facilities welcome dogs, others don’t allow pets at all. If you plan to stay with relatives or friends, they may not necessarily welcome your dog: to be a good houseguest, ask permission first.
If it’s necessary to leave your dog in a hotel or motel room, take the following precautions:
- Hang the “do not disturb” sign on the door.
- Inform the front desk that the dog is in the room.
- Inform the housekeeping staff that the dog is in the room.
- Some hotels are unwilling to allow you to leave your dog unsupervised, and with good reason. A poorly trained dog or a dog who suffers from separation anxiety can bark or trash a hotel room. Again, determine the hotel’s pet policy by phoning ahead and asking.
If a hotel allows you to leave your dog alone in the room, a portable kennel or dog crate will help prevent damage. Also, be aware that some dogs bolt for the door when a stranger enters. A crate will keep your dog safe when the housekeeper comes in to clean your room.
Another good tip for traveling with your dog is to chart the animal clinics on your route. If any medical emergency like heat stroke should arise, you won’t have to waste valuable time trying to locate the nearest pet hospital.
Heat Stroke and Dog Travel
Every year, some people traveling with their dogs discover how quickly heat stroke can kill a dog. Leaving your dog alone in your car, even for a little while, can have tragic consequences.
With only a few minutes of direct sunlight, the interior temperature of a car can be as much as forty degrees higher than the outside temperature. If a dog is left alone in a hot car, he’s in danger of suffering from heat stroke.
Many people traveling with their dogs mistakenly believe that leaving car windows open a crack will prevent heat stroke. However, a window opened “just a crack” does little to prevent a car interior from heating up and, therefore, will not prevent heat stroke.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke, go immediately to the nearest animal clinic.
When to Avoid Dog Travel
Avoid taking your dog on a trip with you if your dog:
- is not trained for obedience
- is sick
- gets severe motion sickness
- has a physical handicap.