By Grace Park
Published: 08/10/2021, edited: 08/18/2022
Guest writer: Robert from Marvelous Dogs
Travelling with your dog is fun and often necessary, but can also be a source of stress for everyone involved. Thankfully, there are several tips and recommendations that make travelling with your dog that much safer and easier!
Whether you are new to travelling with a dog, or could just use a refresher, here are some important things not to forget while on the road with your furry friend!
Being in a car without a seatbelt is as dangerous for dogs as it is for humans! If you make a sudden stop, or have to react quickly in an emergency situation, your dog could be seriously injured if they are not properly restrained.
Having your dog properly restrained is also necessary to avoid distractions while driving. If your dog is jumping from the front seat to the back seat, or is insistent on sitting on your lap, this can become a serious distraction. Distracted driving causes thousands of accidents each year, so in order to keep yourself and your pup safe it is necessary for them to have a proper restraint system.
There are several different options for proper restraint. These include a safety harness and a seatbelt, a dog car-seat or even a secured crate, depending on your dog and your individual situation. For example, small dogs tend to travel better in dog car-seats where they have a small, secure space just for them. Larger dogs, or dogs that get very excited, might benefit from riding in a crate where they have the ability to move around while also staying safe.
The primary goal of your restraint system is to prevent your dog from flying out of the car, into the back of the seat, or through the windshield if you are in an accident.
This might seem like common sense, but proper identification is often forgotten when travelling with a pet. If by some chance your dog were to run away from you and get lost, they have no way of identifying themselves. You need to ensure they have your name and contact information on a properly fitted collar that will not easily be lost.
A harness is not an appropriate place to put their identification because they can get snagged on things and ripped off, and dogs can also slip harnesses when they are in a scary situation, especially small teacup dogs.
A permanent identification marker, such as a microchip, is also highly recommended for travelling with your dog. All veterinary clinics have a microchip scanner, so if someone finds your dog they can take them to get scanned which will result in you being reunited much sooner! Just don’t forget to keep the information in the microchip system current so the veterinary clinic can contact you!
Sometimes, crossing state lines requires a health certificate from a veterinarian. A health certificate is a document that states a veterinarian has examined your dog and that your dog doesn’t have any contagious diseases that could potentially spread during travel.
Health certificates also ensure that your dog has had all of their required vaccinations!
Health certificate requirements for each state can be found online at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel. You can also ask your veterinarian, and they will be able to help you or direct you to where you can find information specific to your trip.
Health certificates are always required for your pet to travel via airplane, so ensure you have an appointment booked with your veterinarian at least three weeks before flying!
While you might be able to wait 5-6 hours before you need a break, there is a good chance your dog will need to stop sooner than that! Stopping at regular intervals will help reduce the risk of accidents in the car, and also will ensure your pet is riding comfortably.
Frequent breaks will allow your dog to stretch their legs, use the bathroom and expend some of the energy they have built up while sitting calmly.
At the minimum, stop every 2-3 hours, but some dogs will need to stop more frequently than that! It is up to you to know your individual dog and stop as frequently as they need to.
Public rest stops are great places to stop with your dog! They tend to have dog specific areas, waste bags and trash cans, and lots of grass for your dog to enjoy! They are open long hours and the dog areas are often located away from the high traffic roads nearby.
You also may want to consider packing a long leash so your dog can run around and play. Long leashes are a great way to allow your dog to run and play while still being on a leash. You never want to take the leash off your dog in an unfamiliar, or near vehicles that may or may not be paying attention to them!
Although most hotels are beginning to allow dogs for an additional fee, it is still the best option to book your lodging ahead of time rather than waiting until the last minute!
Choose a hotel, campground or cabin that is dog friendly and make your reservation ahead of time so there is no confusion when you arrive.
Dog friendly lodging (such as dog friendly hotels, dog sitting and dog boarding in a pet sitter’s home with Wag!) can be found by searching on the internet in the area you are planning to stay. Be sure to read the reviews from people that have stayed there previously to ensure the place is what you are expecting it to be.
Dog friendly lodging tends to have accommodations such as dog parks, dog walk areas, waste bags and other conveniences that will make your stay with your dog that much more enjoyable. It will also take the stress out of having to find a place to stay last minute because no dog friendly lodging is available.
Having the chance to take your dog on adventures with you is priceless, and with the proper planning it can also be nearly stress free! Don’t forget to ensure that your dog has a proper restraint system, appropriate identification and a health certificate if needed!
Make plans at least a month ahead of time with your veterinarian if you need a health certificate, vaccinations or a microchip! Do your research to find the restraint system that will work best for you both, and stop frequently for your furry friend to take the breaks they need. Plan your lodging ahead of time and don’t forget to pack enough food for your whole trip!
Planning ahead, for both you and your dog will make the trip so much more enjoyable.
Have fun, stay safe & happy tails!
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