Dog parents can often feel torn between their love for their dog and a desire to travel, but traveling with your dog can be a wonderful experience you’ll both enjoy. Whether you are traveling with a dog on a plane, bus, boat, train, or by car, the key to any enjoyable trip is the same: preparation.
A trip with your dog is made or broken before you even leave home. Plan well ahead, giving any hotels you plan to stay in and the airlines or travel companies you wish to use as much advance notice as possible. Make lists and take care with each step. When it comes to traveling with dogs, the rewards for your preparation will be well worth the effort.
Follow our guide below for the best ways to travel with a dog.
Tip #1: Practice Socializing
Your dog will love traveling, and you’ll enjoy the trip far more if your dog is well-socialized, both with other people and with dogs. She’ll be more comfortable and able to see the trip as an adventure. And other people will welcome your dog far more if she is confident and friendly rather than fearful or aggressive.
Tip #2: Work on Good Manners
When traveling with dogs, you’ll encounter many types of people, including some who don’t know or understand dogs. Some may even be fearful. Your trip will run so much more smoothly for you if your dog is well-behaved and able to “sit” and “stay” when told to do so.
You may also encounter some no-pet policies along the way. Some policies might be firm, while others may allow for some wiggle room. A well-behaved dog will get the benefit of this leeway, where a rowdy dog won’t.
Tip #3: Book a Pre-Travel Check-Up
Schedule a check-up with your vet to ensure your dog is happy and healthy. Be sure your dog’s vaccines are entirely up to date before you start your trip. If she isn’t microchipped, get it done now. The peace of mind, especially when you’re traveling, is invaluable.
Tip #4: Get Copies of Medical Records
Ask your vet for a copy of all your dog’s medical records and vaccinations, then make multiple copies. Also, download a copy to your smartphone. When you’re traveling internationally with a dog, various officials in each country will need to review your dog’s medical records and may ask for a copy. Should you need to visit a vet during your trip, a copy of her records will make everything easier. Even if you never leave the country, you’ll be glad to have her records with you.
Tip #5: Take New Photos
Take a few new photos of your dog walking, sitting, and standing, both alone and with you. Keep the photos handy on your phone, but print out a few copies of each and pack them with your dog’s medical records, with your luggage, and in your dog’s carrier. Should the two of you become separated, this will help you find each other.
Tip #6: Pack the Essentials
Pack all the essentials to care for your dog and make her feel comfortable and confident during your trip. Bring your dog’s food and pack plenty of water. Even when traveling domestically, the water’s mineral content may vary in different regions, risking stomach upset. Collapsible bowls are convenient when you’re traveling with dogs. Be sure to bring a supply of your dog’s favorite treats in a variety of flavors and shapes.
Also, remember to pack your dog’s leash, ID tags, favorite toys, flea and tick medicine, poop bags, and brush. Bring your dog’s carrier with a blanket or dog bed to ensure her comfort. Invest in your peace of mind and get your dog a GPS-enabled collar for your trip. If you lose your dog, the tracker can help reunite the two of you.
Tip #7: Prepare Your Dog’s Carrier
Check the carrier requirements with the travel companies you intend to use, like airlines, train companies, bus companies, or ships. Be sure your dog’s carrier meets those requirements. Add large, bright, legible labels to the carrier filled out with your complete information. This should include your name, your dog’s name, your phone number, email address, your destination, your travel schedule, and the phone number of someone at your destination. Affix the label to the carrier–do not rely on a removable baggage tag. Include a copy of your dog’s medical records, too. These precautions are essential when traveling with your dog on a plane.
Always include a favorite toy and a blanket that smells like you when you pack her carrier.
Tip #8: Plan a Dog-Friendly Vaycay
When you’re traveling with dogs, there’s so much you can do. But make it easier on both of you and plan to take plenty of bathroom breaks and back in time to relax together. Your dog will encounter new smells and so much to explore. Build-in time for her to nose around as well as relieve herself at leisure.
Tip # 9: Research Dog Policies
Every airline, train company, bus line, hotel, and restaurant has different policies relating to traveling with dogs. How to travel with a dog means learning to navigate these different policies, which can frequently change. Start with the company website, and when you find one with a dog policy that appeals to you, give them a call to verify the policy remains in place. Ask them about your dog’s weight and breed because some restrictions may apply.
Be sure to ask about details specific to your plan. A “dog-friendly” policy is not enough information. For instance, the hotel may welcome guests with dogs but only in assigned rooms, or they may not allow you to leave your dog in the room when you go out.
Amtrak allows dogs under 20 pounds to travel on their trains, but they restrict travel to a total of seven hours per day with the dog. Most airlines will fly dogs. But when researching how to travel with a dog on a plane, you’ll find some dog-friendly airlines will allow dogs in the cabin with you for the flight, while others require dogs to fly in the baggage compartment. There’s no substitute for research.
Tip #10: Mind the Fees
When you confirm the dog-friendly policies of the hotels and travel companies you plan to use, always inquire about their pet-related fees. Some hotels that welcome your dog also require a substantial fee for every night of your stay. Yet, some do not charge any additional fee. And remember that there are dog-friendly Airbnb options that may not charge extra for you to bring your dog.
Tip #11: Look into Apps
There are a variety of apps devoted to helping dog-lovers network with others throughout the world. They provide excellent insight into many aspects of traveling with dogs. You’ll learn which establishments offer dog-friendly amenities and how best to navigate them. Some apps map out dog-friendly hiking trails, restaurants that welcome dogs, and local attractions where dogs are welcome. Just Google “apps for dog owners” to find a wealth of information on the best way to travel with a dog.
Tip #12: Get Social
As you conduct your research and plan your trip with your dog, don’t overlook the resources you’ll find on social media. Dog lovers share their experiences traveling with dogs and their insights and favorite spots and amenities using hashtags like #dogsof_____, naming the city or country where they find their favorite places. Search these hashtags to bone up on your destination. You’ll always get the straight scoop from fellow dog-lovers.
Tip #13: Keep Treats on Hand
If your dog is not an experienced traveler, withhold breakfast to prevent an upset stomach and vomiting or diarrhea issues. Provide plenty of water and always keep a few favorite chew treats available. A tasty treat like a chicken braid or a peanut butter stick gives your dog a chance to work off some nervous energy without putting anything heavy in her stomach. If you’re still worried about your doggo getting motion or car sickness, consider consulting your veterinarian on the possibility of anti-nausea medicine.
It’s also a good idea to keep some smaller, bite-sized treats handy throughout your trip. You’ll want to provide plenty of praise and encouragement for your dog during your journey, especially for times that are stressful or confusing. A tasty treat is a great way to show her what a good girl she is while distracting her from any problems.
Tip #14: Respect Other Cultures
Always remember that cultures differ. In America, we treat our dogs like family. The residents of other countries may find this strange. Expect some different reactions as you travel, especially when traveling internationally with a dog. Roll with the cultural differences. But be sure to communicate any concerns clearly. If your dog gets aggressive with strangers, alert others not to approach her. If she welcomes physical attention, invite others to pet her, but don’t take offense if they decline.
With advanced planning, communication, and care, traveling with dogs can be a rewarding experience for you both. Like most of your dog’s travel supplies, you’ll find the complete lineup of Nutrichomps nutritious dog chews online at Amazon and Chewy. Or use our online tool to locate a retailer near you.