Tips on Traveling with a Dog

So the time has come for a family vacation and you are considering traveling with your dog. You may be trying to avoid the financial cost of boarding your pet, or the more subtle debt incurred by imposing on a family or friend to take care of Fido while you are away. Or perhaps it just wouldn’t be a family vacation without the fluffiest member of the family. Whatever your circumstance may be I have successfully traveled with my own dog, (a yellow lab), on several trips of varying distances from 300-1,400 miles and here are a few pointers that I have picked up along the way. It’s really just a matter of planning, packing, and pragmatism.

PLANNING:
The first thing that you must consider when traveling with a dog is the behavior and temperament of your dog. There are dogs that are simply not well suited for travel.

If your dog is extremely high strung and must move constantly you are going to have a problem. If you are really uncertain, take a trial ride with your dog of about 3 hours. If he or she does okay, that’s great. If they have a fit and start barking, clawing at the windows, biting, or jumping around in the car you will either need to get a sedative from your vet, or a place to house the dog while you are traveling.

If your dog has obedience problems and you cannot get him or her to obey you that is also a cause for concern. You are not going to enjoy traveling with a dog that cannot be controlled, and you may find yourself liable for property damage or personal injury. Either be proactive and get special obedience aids (choke chain, muzzle, pet carrier) or find another option for your pet while you travel.

Another thing to consider when you plan to travel with a dog is humane treatment. If you have a St. Bernard and you are driving a VW Rabbit, the dog is not going to do well. Similarly if you are on a very long trip you do not want to have a dog of any size confined in a small space such as a traveling carrier for longer than 2-3 hrs at a time. Also use caution if you must employ a choke chain. Never leave a dog unattended when he or she is wearing a choke chain, and use this devise as little as possible.

Once you have taken a very honest look at traveling with your dog, and have determined that it is feasible and humane to do so, there are still considerations to be made ahead of time:

�·Make sure that you dog is completely up to date on all immunizations, has up to date tags, and that you have a copy of his immunization records.

�·Call ahead to make sure your hotel accommodates pets. An excellent resource for finding pet friendly locations when traveling with a dog is www.pettravel.com

Ã?·Whether your destination is among family or at a commercial location, don’t ASSUME that your dog will be welcome. Communicate ahead of time with your host or hostess that you will be traveling with your dog, and discuss any arrangements your pet may need once you get there.

�·For a more pleasant traveling experience bathe your dog the night before you leave on your trip. Ten Hours in a traveling with a stinky dog is ten hours too many- trust me.

REMEMBER TO PACK
Packing for your trip when you are traveling with a dog may seem pretty self explanatory, but if you forget an item it may be extremely inconvenient. So make sure that you make a list. Here are some basic items that you will want to make sure is on that list.

�·You are going to want to pack bottles of water for keeping your pet hydrated while you are on the road.

�·You also want to make sure when you are traveling with your dog that you pack the same type of dog food that he or she is accustomed to. Do not be tempted to try a different brand based on convenience of packaging. This can result in digestive problems and the accidents that go along with them.

�·It may seem silly to even mention this, but remember to pack the dog food bowls. You THINK you are going to just naturally remember such an obvious thing when traveling with a dog, but I have forgotten these on more than one occasion, so make sure you add this to your checklist.

�·Also when traveling with your dog you may wish to have small pillows or blankets to make him or her more comfortable. These will also help protect your car seats.

Ã?·Don’t forget your leash. Also if you have determined such things are necessary to be able to travel with your dog, make sure to pack the muzzle, choke collar, and pet carrier.

�·Write this one down for sure, cause it is easy to forget. Remember when you travel with your dog you should have a copy of immunization records.

BE PRAGMATIC:
Probably the most important thing to bear in mind when traveling with your dog is to be pragmatic about your plans. You are going to need to stop every two to three hours for around 10-15 minutes. Take your dog for a small walk, make sure they are offered some water, and if possible allow for some playtime. If your dog is high energy you may need to stop more frequently, and extend the stop times for additional exercise. Do not be concerned if your dog does not eat or drink as much when traveling as they do at home. This is normal for some dogs. Once you reach your destination and your dog is able to settle down, he or she will return to his or her usual routine.

Traveling with your dog does not need to be a nightmare. If you plan well, remember to pack all the needed items to make the ride go easily, and have realistic expectations then traveling with your dog can be a fun adventure to share with your pet.

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