Traveling With Your Dog
We all know the look – the dreaded stare that screams, “You’re abandoning me, aren’t you?” If you’re a dog owner, you’ve seen it every time you’ve pulled out a suitcase to pack for vacation or a business trip. It also there when you do the most innocuous pre-vacation prep work, like washing clothes or watering the plants on an abnormal day of the week. A great way to counter those sad puppy eyes is to bring your dog on the road with you. You’ll get to share photo worthy moments as you romp on the beach, and you’ll be more relaxed knowing your pet is in good hands.
In order to give both your pet and, well, yourself the most stress-free travel experience, it’s important to plan a few things out ahead of time. Here are a few top tips for doing just that.
It’s all about the crate.
Used in the right way, crating can go a long way towards calming your dog’s anxiety. It will keep your dog out of your hair on long road trips and will be required by any airline. Fill a crate with your dog’s favorite toys, blanket or bed so that it’s a little reminder of home.
Train your dog ahead of time by placing the crate in your trunk or backseat and letting your dog enter on their own accord. Leave them there for fifteen minutes or so (weather permitted, of course) before you return in order to lessen any separation anxiety that might occur during the trip. And remember: always stay positive. They won’t be anxious unless you are.
Bring the right supplies.
Beyond the crate, bring plenty of other comforts from home, as well as any essential supplies. If you’ll be driving, make a travel pack of food, treats, leashes, toys, balls and water, and keep it easily accessible. If you’ll be flying, pack at least a few treats, toys and a water dish right into the crate.
Exercise is your friend.
Give your dog a nice long walk before the long trip to tire out both their muscles and their minds. Stop frequently on car trips for bathroom breaks and play time, and go for another long walk once you land. This will help your dog get out that anxious energy, and it will also give them a chance to become familiar with this new territory. Be patient about frequent sniffing stops. Smelling is to dogs what seeing is to us, so this is the best way for them to become comfortable in this new place.
Prepare for the airport ahead of time.
Or, more accurately, prepare for the airline. Each airline has a different pet policy, so talk to a representative beforehand about what will be required of your specific dog breed. Most airlines reserve the right to cancel a pet’s passage the day of if they appear to be in poor health or if it’s going to be too hot or too cold in the luggage bay. Flying can be particularly hard on anxious dogs, so it’s extra important to pay close attention to what I said previously about crates. Include as many comfort items as possible, and, whatever you do, avoid medication. The effects can differ in high altitudes, and the last thing you want is for your dog to become dependent.
Worried about TSA? Don’t be. Security agents will generally apply the same rules to your dog as they apply to you. This means scanning any belts, bulky sweaters and crates while you and your dog walk through the metal detector together.
There’s no better way to see the world than with your furry best friend at your side. Just make sure to prepare ahead of time so that it’s a fun time for everyone involved. Have a great trip!
Rob Toledo loves all things dog and works at a local shelter in the Pacific Northwest hoping to see as many dogs get adopted as possible so they can join their forever homes. He also enjoys traveling as much as possible and recommends using Travelex currency exchange to avoid border scams as well as researching rates ahead of time using their currency converter.
Stock photography courtesy of Shutterstock