Traveling with your dog can be fun and exciting if you are both prepared. Consider how you plan to travel well ahead of time. Plane, train, boat, or vehicle, or a combination of transportation methods. Many dogs experience high anxiety and stress when traveling. Here are some ways to plan and try to minimize stress on the dog and yourself. The key is organization. Give yourself time to get organized, so you do not have to rush around at the last minute creating additional stress for yourself that will be transferred to your dog. Here is a checklist to get you started:
Do you know your exact travel path?
How long do you intend on traveling at a time?
It is recommended that you break every 4-5 hours to let your dog out of the car, for example. For a pee break and some exploring. However, in other methods of transportation this may not be as feasible.
How will your dog be traveling, crate, carry bag, or freely?
If crate or carry bag, do you have one yet?
How does your dog respond to it? Condition your dog, by letting the dog sit and lay in the crate or carry bag and make it a pleasant, positive experience. Let the dog spend some time with his or her favourite chew toy while in the crate or bag. Do not completely lock the door or zip the bag shut at first, leave it open, so the dog can chose when to come and go from the crate or bag. This is just practice and you want the dog to learn that it is his or her space. If you will be separated from your dog during travel, such as in an airplane, consider leaving a piece of your clothing in the crate for your dog to have your scent, and hopefully minimize stress during the separation. See below for travel accessories and crate options.
What to pack for the dog?
Water! Make sure to bring enough water for the traveling time and provide it to your dog frequently. But bringing water also means you need an effective way to offer it to your dog. Some companies have a special water bottle with a lid that converts to a portable dog drinking cup. Or a water bottle that functions like a bigger version of the water dispenser on a hamster cage. There are also foldable bowls available made for traveling. Or whatever way you want to manage. See below for excellent portable – travel bowl ideas!
Consider bringing food!
Make sure you have enough to last to duration of your trip. Decide how many regular meals your dog will need supplemented during the adventure. I always suggested bringing an extra 1-2 meals in case things take longer than expected or you ration slightly larger portions at meal time. You don’t want to run out. You don’t have the freedom of an endless supply like the comforts of home. It may not be convenient to stop for some dog food either, since you may not know the area and where the pet store is.
Consider bringing only a few toys
Three at the most. Also, pick things that your dog will actually play with. Long-lasting chew toys or balls to chase, are better options than the dog’s cute teddy bear that he or she cuddles with. Chewing and running are how dogs alleviate their stress. Providing toys that give your dog an outlet during the travelling is one of the best and most important things you can do. Also be aware that your dog may not enjoy his or her chew toy the same as at home. Your dog may be guarded and uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings. Do not offer reassurance to your pet, you could be reinforcing the fear and anxiety. As your dog gets more comfortable, this should pass. And when you return home, things should be normal again.
Does your dog take any regular medication?
The dog’s health is most important. It is also worth seeking out veterinary hospitals along the way (by google-ing before you go!) and take the contact information with you. Know which vets are open 24 hours and which ones will be closest to you at any given time. Not only for dogs with medical conditions. But also in a random emergency, you don’t need the extra stress of unfamiliar surrounding. Also, some dogs are so high anxiety that they may possible need medications to help with the ease of travelling. If you are concerned about your dogs stress levels when traveling please contact your vet. If your dog gets car-sick, and you plan to travel that way, consult your vet first. Generally, you should bring a copy of your dog’s most recent vet check. Stating his or her current health status, medical history and recent vaccinations.
If you plan to stay in hotels along the way, make sure they are dog friendly
Plan it out before you show up at the door. Be prepared to possibly pay an extra fee for the fuzzy guest, but most dog friendly places leave a treat behind after house keeping as a nice incentive.
Enjoy your trip!
To Travel Right – Travel Light!