Vacation time is nearing, and you’d love to be able to travel with your dog. Or maybe you and your family are packing up to move to a new area and your pooch will be along for the long drive. Do you know how to keep your furry companion safe while traveling?
Whether moving from place to place in a car, train, boat, or airplane, you can take steps to keep your dog safe while you travel to an exciting destination or begin a new journey as a family. Any time you plan a road trip with your dog, consider the following to ensure their safety.
If your dog knows the words, “Wanna go for a ride?” they are probably going to be excited about a long road trip. But even if they are used to going for short rides around town, it doesn’t mean they are ready for longer trips. And if your dog is not excited for local jaunts, you might want to spend some time preparing your dog for a long journey. To keep your dog calm while riding for longer lengths of time, prepare them by taking longer local trips as practice before the big day. With quick training sessions, you can express your expectations with your pup to ensure they know where they need to be within the car and how to remain calm, quiet and in place so as not to distract you as you drive.
If you and your dog are traveling by train or plane, be sure to check in with the airline or rail line to familiarize yourself with their travel policies based on the size of your dog and how your dog will be traveling.
Before you leave, talk to your veterinarian about your journey, any anxieties you may have, and the environment where you are traveling. If your dog has anxiety about riding in a vehicle, your veterinarian can prescribe a medication to keep them calm and relaxed. You will want to know if the environment is much different from the one your dog is used to so you can tackle any potential issues such as fleas and ticks you may not have in your area. Also, be sure your dog is up to date on vaccines and keep rabies records with you as you travel.
Keep your dog inside a ventilated crate or travel carrier as you drive. When possible, strap this crate or carrier down with a seat belt or LATCH system within your vehicle. If you have a large breed dog, you can purchase a harness to attach to your LATCH system or your vehicle’s seat belt. It is always a good idea to label your crate or harness with your name and address and the dog’s name, along with having your dog microchipped and tagged.
Be sure to follow basic safety rules while your dog is traveling. Dogs should not be allowed to roam freely in your vehicle. Do not permit your dog to ride in the bed of your truck. Do not let your dog hang their head out the window, and avoid keeping car windows low enough for your dog to jump out. Keep a leash on your dog or readily available for stops so your dog doesn’t run from the vehicle and is always in your control. Always keep a collar or harness on with name tags.
No matter the transportation you take, you may have stops along the way such as station stops or roadside breaks road for bathroom needs and meals. Be sure your dog is leashed and in your control. Take your dog away from traffic to eliminate. When possible, park close to grass to avoid your dog walking on hot asphalt in the summer or slipping on ice in the winter.
If you are driving, map out your drive and know where the closest emergency animal hospitals are, at least along the route of major cities. Travel with all the items your dog will need. Water and food bowls for pit stops are essential items to have on hand. If you have spare room in your luggage, an extra leash, in the case of damage or loss, is a handy item to have. Medical records and a first aid kit specifically for your dog may be necessary while traveling. A new and interesting chew toy may keep your dog entertained and lying safely within a carrier or the vehicle.
Taking a dog on long or far away trips might be stressful. With some basic preparation, you can rest easy knowing your dog is cared for and ready for the journey. Practice common sense while inside a moving vehicle and keep your dog safe from harm. Never leave your dog in a closed unattended vehicle. Once you are prepared, your dog has all the essentials they need and you are on your journey, enjoy the time with your dog. If you are vacationing, plan activities around your dog such as hiking or beach swimming. If you are moving to a new area, search for local dog parks before you leave so you can socialize your dog once you are in your new home. With some tender loving care, your dog will arrive safely, and you can be worry-free.