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Traveling with a Dog Crate: What You Need to Know

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Overview

Updated: 4/26/2021
Everyone loves a vacation—so does your dog! So, if you are considering bringing your dog along for the ride, be sure to do it right. Travel crates are the pawfect way to keep your furry pal safe and secure, and in some cases, are the only way to bring your pup with you. In this travel guide, we’ll discuss how to choose the pawfect dog crate for your pup, how to get your dog comfortable with their crate, and what you’ll need to know when traveling with your dog. 

Choosing the right travel crate

It’s important to pick the right crate for your dog to ensure their comfort and safety. Things to consider when deciding on a crate should include:

  • Size- Your dog should be able to sit, turn around, and stand up easily without hitting their head on the top of the crate, so get out your tape measure! Have your dog stand up, and measure them from the base of their tail to their nose, then add four inches for the length of crate you’ll need. Next, measure from the top of their head to the floor, and add four inches to get the right height for the crate.
  • Material and style- You’ll find travel crates made out of metal, plastic, wood, or even canvas and netting for small breeds, and while several will work for most dogs, some may be better for chewers or escape artists than others. If you are traveling by plane, however, crates should be made of hard plastic, metal or wood with a solid top.
  • Collapsible crates- A collapsible crate would work great for lots of situations, and make transporting the crate easy. This is pawfect for dogs who can travel both in and out of the crate in a car, or for use at your destination. For plane travel, though, you’ll need a non-collapsible crate solidly put together with nuts and bolts for safety.

Get your dog's crate ready

Now that you’ve got your crate, you’ll need to get your dog used to being in it before hitting the road or sky, which means crate training.

  • Start early- Introduce your dog to their crate several weeks before the trip to allow them enough time to feel safe and comfortable in it. Keep the door open to let them sniff and explore on their own.
  • Make the crate their space- Place their food or treats closer and closer to the crate, and then inside until they comfortably move in and out without hesitation. Add their furvorite blankets and toys to encourage them to spend time in the crate. Once they are using it regularly on their own, try closing the door for short periods.
  • Take test runs- Get your pup used to the feel of traveling inside their crate with several small test drives in the car. Start with a short drive, then increase the time until you feel that your dog is comfortable and feeling secure.
  • Always use positive reinforcement- When your dog is happy and calm in the crate, reward them with treats, praise and affection to reinforce that the crate is a good place to be.

Traveling with your dog by plane

When flying with your dog, you’ll need to consider a few additional factors.

  • Book a space for your dog- Your dog and their crate require a separate ticket from yours, so don’t furget to book this at the same time!
  • Check with your airline for specific policies- While the IATA has issued regulations that most airlines follow for allowing dogs on planes, each airline often includes their own regulations which can range from crate types, ventilation and vaccination requirements, to water buckets, locks and leak-free bottoms. Snub-nosed breeds also require a crate that is one size larger.
  • Have the crate weight ready- When the airline asks you how heavy the crate is, they need the weight of it with your dog inside. 

Traveling with your dog by car

If you’re hitting the open road with your pooch, you’ve got a lot more freedom in traveling. However, there are certain things to always keep in mind.

  • Practice crate safety- Ideally, your dog’s crate should be placed in a cargo area or back seat, and be strapped in to prevent it from sliding. The front seat carries a risk of injury from airbags, but if you must put your dog’s crate here, turn off the passenger seat airbag. Use blankets to pad the floor of the crate, or even the sides, to make sure any jostling doesn’t injure your pup.
  • Provide ventilation- The travel crate you choose should have plenty of ventilation to allow air to flow through it. Keep your car well-ventilated to create that airflow by opening windows or adjusting the air filters to let in outdoor air.
  • Know when to stop- Just like you, dogs need breaks from travel, especially if they’ve been cooped up in a crate. In general, you should plan for 15-to-30-minute breaks every 2 to 4 hours for your healthy, adult dog, and give them water every 2 hours. You should also limit travel to no more than 7 hours in the car each day.
  • Motion sickness and anxiety - Some dogs can experience motion sickness or travel anxiety, which can make travel time terrible for them and you! If your dog is prone to getting car sick, try a natural or medicinal solution that can soothe their nausea. If your dog is feeling anxious, there are several remedies that may calm them, including herbs, compression vests and even massage.

Preparing for your dog's destination

Now that you and your dog are ready to travel, think about the destination. With a pooch in tow, you’ll need to plan ahead for a smooth and fun time with your furbaby.

  • Check for dog-friendly accommodations- Be sure the hotel you are planning to stay at allows dogs, and find out what policies or restrictions they have. This could include breed size limits, crate specifications and vaccination requirements. If you are traveling to a campground, check their dog policy to make sure they are welcome where you want to book.
  • Have a local veterinarian ready- Just in case you need them, look for a local veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic at or near your destination and have their number ready. Some airlines require this info, so have it on hand for them too. 

With a little foresight and preparation, your dog's time traveling in their crate can be a stress-free adventure! Enjoy the journey!


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