By Tim Falk
Published: 09/16/2021, edited: 10/26/2021
Traveling with your dog can be a wonderful experience, but it isn’t always easy. Whether you’re getting from A to B via plane, train, or automobile, there are plenty of hazards that can potentially turn your dream trip into a nightmare.
But you shouldn’t let what might happen stop you from traveling with your dog. In fact, exploring new places with your dog is one of the most special things you and your pup can do together. And with the 6 simple tips below, traveling with a dog will be safer, less stressful, and a whole lot more fun.
The first tip is to think about traveling with your dog as a skill you have to learn and continually refine. It’s like learning to drive or play a new sport — if you want to get better at it, you need to practice.
With this in mind, don’t just wake up one morning and decide to load your dog into the car for a cross-country road trip. They’ll be completely unprepared, the idea of car travel will be almost completely foreign to them, and you’ll be setting yourself up for a great deal of stress and unexpected mishaps.
But if you take some time to help your dog acclimate to travel, you’ll have a much better chance of success when you tackle the real thing. So take your dog for a few short car rides first, gradually building up to longer trips. Find out what works and what doesn’t, discover the best way to deal with problems like motion sickness, and see how your pup copes with life on the road.
As the cliche goes, practice makes perfect.
If you’re preparing to embark on a dog-friendly vacation, you’re probably full of anticipation and excitement — as you should be. But there’s a difference between being enthusiastic and just plain naive, so don’t assume that your trip will be a raging success from start to finish.
No matter how good a traveler your dog is, things will still go wrong. Your hotel might turn out to be much less dog-friendly than advertised. Being so far from home could cause stress and anxiety for your pet. Your flight could be delayed, your car could break down, or your pup might suffer an illness or injury.
Stuff happens, in other words, so it’s always good practice to prepare for the worst. Make sure you’ve got a pet first-aid kit with you, plan your route in advance (more on this in a minute), and know who to contact in an emergency. Hopefully all this prep will end up being overkill, but the peace of mind it offers will help you relax and enjoy your trip that little bit more.
The next helpful habit that’ll make traveling with your dog easy is doing as much forward planning as possible. We know that the unpredictability of travel is sometimes what makes it so special, but a little bit of preparation can go a long way toward ensuring a safer, less stressful trip.
So before you leave home, plan out your route carefully. Where will you stay? What dog-friendly cafes and restaurants are available at your destination? Where will you and your dog stop along the way?
If you’re traveling by plane, what’s the process for getting your dog through airport security? Where can they go to the bathroom at the airport?
There are lots of factors to consider, so take your time to think your trip through from start to finish.
There’s a real spirit of freedom and adventure when you travel with your dog, but try not to let your excitement make you overlook any practical considerations. The next helpful habit to make dog-friendly travel easier is to put their safety first at all times.
Sure, they might love being left unrestrained in the car so they can rush from side to side and stick their head out every window, but that’s just plain dangerous. OK, your pup might usually have a reliable recall, but letting them off the leash in that unfenced roadside rest stop just isn’t safe. And fine, you might only be running into the store for a couple of minutes, but you should never leave your dog unattended in a parked car.
From harsh weather to dangerous wildlife, research the potential hazards you and your pup might face along your journey. Make note of the location and details of emergency vet hospitals/clinics at your destination, and visit your vet before leaving home to make sure your pooch is fit to travel.
This is a great habit to have in every aspect of your life, but especially when traveling with your dog. It’s always important to remember that being able to travel with your dog is a privilege, so be polite and respectful everywhere you go.
If you’re not sure whether dogs are allowed in a certain area, ask first. If dogs aren’t allowed off-leash, keep your pup on the lead. And don’t assume that everyone loves your dog as much as you do — some people simply aren’t dog people, so let them have their own space at all times.
Keep nuisance barking to a minimum, and as always, clean up after your dog whenever necessary. A little bit of courtesy goes a long way, and you’ll find that many people you meet are more than happy to repay any kindness you show them.
Last, but perhaps most importantly, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses at every chance you get. There's no better travel companion than your fur-baby, and traveling with your dog is not something you get to enjoy every day.
So remember to take your time and enjoy it. Sometimes it’s more about the journey than the destination, so don’t be in such a rush to get there. Enjoy exploring new places and experiences with your dog, and put yourself in their paws to ensure that they have as much fun as possible. And when your dog is happy and content, you’ll have a “pawsome” time too.
If you want even greater peace of mind when traveling with your dog, check out our pet insurance comparison tool. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like FIGO and Nationwide.
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