Are you planning your next trip and want to take your dog with you? Traveling with a dog can be a great experience if you prepare accordingly. Poor planning can ruin the trip for both you and your four-legged companion.
Before you make any traveling arrangements try to place yourself in your dog’s shoes. If your pooch suffers from motion sickness or gets anxious when his routine is disrupted, it is better to leave him home. On the other hand, if your pooch is up for an adventure, there are several transportation options available.
Traveling by Plane
While air travel is the most convenient way of transportation for you, it might not work out for your pooch. Although you love your dog and consider him your best friend, most airline companies treat dogs as cargo. Traveling in the cargo hold can be a stressful experience even for easy-going pooches.
However, if placing your dog in the cargo hold is your only option, make sure that he is secure in an airline approved dog carrier. The crate has to be large enough to allow your dog to sit, stand, lie, and turn in it without problems. Furthermore, you will have to attach all your information on the crate so your pooch and you won’t get separated somewhere along the way.
On the other hand, flying with a smaller dog doesn’t have to be stressful. Some airlines will allow you to bring a dog for an in-cabin flight in a pet carrier if it can fit under the seat in front of you. Still, rules and regulations can vary from one airline to the next, so you should check all the details in advance.
Before booking a flight for your pooch, you should know that air travel can be potentially dangerous. Older, injured, sick, pregnant, and brachycephalic dogs are at risk of experiencing serious health complications. So, talk to your vet and consider all the pros and cons of flying before you board your pooch on the plane.
Whenever possible, opt for a direct flight to avoid mistakes during transfer and extra stress on your dog. Also, during summer and winter, choose flights that will allow you to avoid the midday heat or freezing morning temperatures.
Traveling by Car
The car is probably the best way to travel with a dog. Chances are, that your pooch has already had a few rides around the block. And he probably feels comfortable riding with you.
However, if your dog hasn’t been in a car before, he might feel anxious and scared the first couple of times. If this is the case, you need to teach your dog to associate the car with positive experiences.
Try taking your dog for a few shorter drives to places he likes. You can go to a park, or drive to a pet store and reward your dog with a treat or a new toy. In time, his anxiety should ease and he will start being comfortable and enjoy the ride.
Still, some dogs can’t get over their fears of being in the car and in these cases going on a trip isn’t a good option. If you really must take your dog on a road trip, you should talk to your vet about some anti-anxiety meds that will make traveling easier for your dog. But remember, you shouldn’t administer any type of medication to your dog without consulting your vet first!
Once you are sure your pooch is up for a road trip, his safety and comfort should be your number one priority. If you own a senior, injured, or larger dog, consider investing in a dog car ramp. This way your pooch won’t struggle to get in the car, and you won’t pull out your back trying to load a 100-pound mutt.
For the safety of all the passengers, it is best to keep your dog in a crate that is secured to a car with a seat belt. You can also use restraints or doggy seat belts to prevent your dog from roaming inside the car. However, they aren’t as reliable and can leave your dog susceptible to sustaining serious injuries in a crash.
Depending on the duration of the ride, pack enough water, food, and treats for your dog. You can avoid getting your seats dirty by protecting them with car seat covers. Furthermore, plan for frequent stops, to allow your dog to do his business and get some exercise while on the road.
Traveling by Ship
While not so popular as air or car travel, traveling by ship may work for you and your pooch. While assistance animals are permitted on all ships, only a few cruise lines allow dogs, usually on ocean crossings.
Some cruise lines will allow you to keep your pooch in your private cabin. However, most lines confine dogs in kennels during the trip. You should contact your cruise line in advance to get all the details regarding their policies and dog facilities.
In case you decide to leave your pooch in a ship’s kennel, make sure that it is protected against the elements and that it has everything your dog needs. Furthermore, check on your pooch frequently and spend quality time with him. And even if your dog swims like a pro and can spend hours in the water, bringing a doggy life jacket is a must on any boat trip.
Taking your dog on your next trip can be an excellent idea, but only if you plan everything right. If you have even the slightest doubt that your pooch isn’t up for the adventure, it is better to leave him at home.
Once you have a destination picked up, it is up to you to decide how to travel with your dog. However, even though your pooch can’t voice his opinion, his safety and comfort have to be your top priorities.
Keep your dog crated during the trip, and ensure that he is comfortable and hydrated at all times. Once your first trip together goes as planned and you have a great time, there is always room for more adventures around the world.