How to Travel with Your Dog

If you’re planning a trip, you might be considering taking your dog along. Boarding your dog or finding a pet sitter can be expensive and stressful for your pooch. Instead, taking your canine along for the trip can be a great option depending on where you’re going. It provides you with some company and prevents you from having to board your dog in a kennel.

Traveling with your beloved dog can be extremely fun if you plan correctly and have the proper equipment. Without proper planning though, you can easily ruin your trip and make the experience stressful for everyone. Knowing how to make the journey easy on your pet and preparing yourself with the right equipment are both paramount to having a successful trip with your pooch.

To help you in this endeavor, we’ve put together this list of essential tips for traveling with your dog, as well as the products you’ll need to make any journey comfortable and enjoyable for you and your dog. No matter whether you’re flying or driving, these tips can make your journey stress free and fun.

1. Learn the Rules of Your Airline

Learn the rules of your airline

If you’re planning on flying, you should read up on your airline’s procedures for pets. These rules differ quite a bit from airline to airline, so it’s worth the effort to find out about the airline’s specific rules ahead of time. Otherwise, you could easily show up to the airport unprepared. Most airlines will require vaccination records and some sort of identification for your pet. An identification tag like the Leash Boss Pet ID is usually enough to suffice. However, some also require you have a pet ID card or recent picture of your pet with you.

No matter what airline you’re flying with, you will have to have something to contain your dog in, which bring us to our next tip…

2. Invest in a Sturdy Crate

Invest in a sturdy dog crate

Whether you’re traveling by air or by land, you should invest in a sturdy, high-quality dog travel crate. Many airlines will require that your dog ride in a crate in a designated pet section, which is often in the cargo hold. To help keep your pet safe, it is vital that the crate be sturdy and safe while also being portable. We recommend a crate that is mostly enclosed with only ventilation holes. While crates with windows might seem like a good option, they can make your dog feel unsafe and exposed, especially when they’re in a strange area. This heavy-duty crate is a good example.

If you’re driving, you might not be planning on your dog spending time in a crate. However, we still recommend that you purchase and take a dog crate just in case. It is not unusual for dogs to become antsy and need some time to chill out and unwind while traveling. A crate can provide your dog with a safe space they can retreat to when the stress of traveling becomes too much.

3. Don’t Forget Your Pet’s Needs

Pack essentials for your dog

While traveling can be fun and exciting, it is important not to forget about your pet’s needs in the hustle and bustle of planning and packing. Even when you’re on the road or in the air, your dog is still going to need to eat and drink. Keeping up with your dog’s regular feeding routine and making sure she stays hydrated can reduce stress and prevent your dog from becoming anxious. Dogs thrive on routines. While it might be a small detail to us, it can make or break the trip for them.

To make feeding and watering easier, we recommend investing in a few essential traveling items. A collapsible dog travel bowl can make feeding your pup on the go easier. We prefer dog travel bowls that are collapsible and come with a lid, like the IDEGG Collapsible Silicone Dog Bowl. You can also use dog travel bowls for water, but there is the obvious problem of spilling and inability to leave the water bowl accessible at all times.

You can’t leave a filled water bowl in the backseat of your car; it just isn’t feasible. Because of this, we also recommend purchasing a dog travel water bottle. These make giving your dog water on the go much easier, and many of them are more compact than trying to carry around a water bottle and dog travel bowl for water at the same time. We recommend getting a particularly compact water bottle like the OllyDog OllyBottle.

4. Stay Organized

Stay organized

When you take your dog traveling, they still require the same amount of care as they did at home. If you brushed your dog daily, you should continue doing so throughout your trip. If they require exercise, play with them every day or take a daily walk like you would at home. All of these things require equipment. You probably have more stuff for your dog than you realize. When you travel, you’re going to need to take all this stuff with you.

If you just begin piling everything in the car, you will quickly become unorganized. You won’t be able to locate your dog’s food bowl when you need it or their leash when it’s time to get out, and his favorite toy might be lost forever. To avoid these possible traveling mishaps, we highly recommend dedicating a specific bag to your canine. It might seem like much to pack your dog their own bag, but trust us – you’ll find it much easier to care for them on the go when you have everything in one easily accessible, organized location. The best way to accomplish this is to purchase an appropriately sized dog travel bag.

While you can technically carry your dog’s stuff in anything, a dog travel bag will help you keep everything particularly organized. They’re carefully designed to make storing all your dog’s stuff in an accessible location. We recommend one that is both portable and organized, such as the Wahl Professional Animal Pet Travel Bag. It has room for everything, from your dog’s leash to some chew toys, her favorite stuffed toy, food and water bowls, and everything your pup needs to have all the comforts of home away from home.

5. Keep Your Dog Comfortable

Keeping your dog comfortable

Traveling can be stressful for any dog. The change in scenery and routine can really throw a canine off and negatively affect their mood. After all, if you were taken from your home and put in a car for hours without knowing where you were going, you’d be stressed out too. Luckily, there are quite a few ways you can decrease your canine’s discomfort and help them enjoy the experience.

First, you should try to bring as many key objects from home as you can. Particular toys your dog likes or the dog blanket they always cuddle with can help them feel right at home – even while you’re driving down the interstate. Secondly, you should try to give them a safe place to retreat to if things become too much. We touched on this a little in the crate section, but it really can make or break a trip.

You should also invest in a good dog travel bed. These beds are designed to be portable and durable enough for travel, while also providing your pet with a comfortable place to lay. They can be used to make their crate extra-comfortable or laid in the back of your car to give your pet their own space. Choose a bed that is easily portable and durable. A water-resistant bed like the ChuckIt! Travel Dog Bed can be particularly useful if you’re traveling long distances.

Finally, if your pup tends to be anxious when traveling, consider a dog anxiety vest or dog anxiety wrap. Anxiety vests and wraps apply firm, yet gentle pressure – some are weighted, while others have a compression design – giving your dog a sense of security and comfort.

6. Take Regular Breaks

Take regular breaks

If you’re driving, it is important to take regular breaks to let your pup exercise. A cooped-up dog can quickly become destructive, so stopping every two or three hours to let them run around is a must. Preferably, you should also let them use the bathroom on the same schedule they would at home. Just like people, a dog’s bladder becomes used to a set schedule, so it can be extremely helpful to keep this schedule when you’re traveling. Don’t forget the dog poop bags to clean up after your pup does his business.

We also recommend sticking to your usual exercise routine as well if possible. If your dog usually walks for an hour, then they will definitely need to walk for at least that one the days you travel. Instead of stopping on the way and walking, you could plan ahead and walk before you leave your house. However, if you’re traveling more than one day in a row, look ahead at rest stops and pick one that has a doggie path for you to walk him on.

Traveling with your dog can be a fun and unforgettable experience for the whole family, your dog included, but there’s a lot to consider before venturing out on a grand adventure. Plan ahead, make sure you have all the essentials, and you’ll ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for all.

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Kristin Hitchcock