Tips for Traveling With Your Dog
Going on an adventure with your furry BFF is an exciting time! If you're traveling with your dog for the first time — by train, plane, or automobile, or another mode of transportation — you might also feel a little nervous. How will your buddy handle the travel? Fortunately, with advanced planning and preparation, there are ways to make the journey comfortable and stress-free for you both.
Before Leaving Home
However you plan to travel, it's important to make some basic preparations ahead of time. These tips can help keep your pupper secure and content on the journey, so you can have the best time together.
Ensure your pup wears an ID collar and bring an updated rabies license. You may also want to bring along a copy of his vaccination records.
Consider microchipping him. After you've registered his chip number online, save the number in your phone for quick reference.
Feed him a light meal several hours before you leave in order to fend off motion sickness.
- Take him for a walk shortly before departing to work off some excess energy and help calm him during the trip.
Bring along familiar comfort items like his favorite treats, toys, or blanket.
- Pack the necessities for just-in-case moments:
A travel kit (leash, waste bags, grooming supplies, etc.)
Paper towels and spray cleaner
- Bottled water, his usual food, and bowls
A canine first aid kit and any necessary medicine
Traveling by Car
If you two are hitting the road, it's smart to have your pup restrained while you're driving. This can prevent distractions while you're behind the wheel and also keep him secure. Some options include travel crates, soft carriers, car seats, and seatbelt attachments.
Once you've selected a traveling restraint, give your doggo a chance to get used to it. Go for short drives, extending your trips over time. Take note of what makes your guy comfortable. Does he bark if you play loud music but settle down with a podcast on? Do calming supplements help him enjoy the ride? Should you talk to your vet about medication for motion sickness?
Set up your travel itinerary with your pal's comfort in mind.
Schedule stops every hour or so for potty breaks and exercise. And, of course, don't ever leave a dog alone in the car, no matter the temperature. The sun on even a 70-degree day can bring the inside of a car to 100 degrees in just 20 minutes. On hot days, a car's inside temperature can hit a dangerous 140 degrees within an hour. Cracking the window, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, doesn't help.
Traveling by Airplane
Well in advance of your flight, review the airline's pet requirements. Some require health certificates and vaccination records, so you should organize those beforehand.
Airplane trips can be a little trickier to prepare for since you can't practice flying. You can still test out the carrier at home or in a car to get him used to it. Make sure, though, that the carrier meets the airline's size specifications.
Before booking your flight, check with the airline about its unique pet policies. If your pup is allowed, you'll need to decide whether to bring him in the plane cabin with you or have him ride in the cargo area. (He'll likely feel more comfortable with you in the cabin.) Many airlines require the dog carrier to fit under the seat in front of you and stay there the entire flight, or else he'll have to fly in the cargo area. A few airlines will allow you to buy a seat for your pup.
Some airlines don't allow certain breeds onboard. It's not always due to size or personality, and it can be inconsistent. Some airlines don't allow pups with a long or dense coat length due to health risks when cargo area temperatures aren't properly regulated. Others have restrictions for snub-nosed or brachycephalic dogs with breathing issues that can worsen at higher altitudes. Knowing the potential risks for your dog's breed and why he may not be allowed on a flight can help you find the most secure way for him to travel.
Some airlines have special online tools for booking a trip with a pet. Finally, it's worth checking on the latest government regulations regarding traveling with pets. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sometimes places travel restrictions on dogs, particularly in areas at high risk for rabies.
Try to book early because some airlines only allow a limited number of pets per flight. To minimize your pup's time in airports, aim for direct flights.
Traveling by Bus, Train, or Ship
The rules for other transportation modes may be stricter than for airplanes. Review the transportation company's pet policies. They may have restrictions on the size of your carrier and dog. At the time of publication, Amtrak, for example, has a limit of 20 pounds for a pup and carrier combined. Pets are also only allowed in coach class and must be at least eight weeks old, odorless, and not disruptive. C&J Bus Line has similar size and weight policies. Greyhound doesn't currently allow any animals on board aside from service animals. Double check the company website before finalizing your plans to avoid last-minute surprises.
Whether you're traveling by car, bus, plane, or train, requirements can vary quite a bit. Plan ahead when traveling with your dog. Review the policies, pack the basics, and get everything else in order ahead of time. With some forethought, you can enjoy a stress-free trip and focus on making new memories with your furry best friend.