• 02/18/2023

Can Traveling With a Dog Be Stress-Free? Here’s How


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Dogs are man’s best friends, so it’s no wonder you might consider bringing your furry friend on your next trip. However, traveling with a dog it isn’t as simple as it may seem.

Traveling with pets helps create beautiful memories that last forever and leaves you feeling assured you’re giving your pet its best life. In fact, 54% of pet owners planned getaways with their pets in 2021. 

However, road-tripping with your dog can be more stressful than anticipated if you don’t strategize ahead of time.

How Can I Travel With My Dog?

Here are seven tips every dog parent should remember when traveling with their fur babies in tow.

1. Find Out Where Your Dog’s Welcome

A worst-case scenario would be traveling with your dog and feeling unwelcome. That’s why searching for dog-friendly destinations should be your first step. 

Search for highly-walkable places with lots of parks and pet-friendly shops and eateries. For example, San Francisco is ranked number one on Forbes’ Best Cities for Dogs 2022, with access to four dog parks per 100,000 residents.

Also, consider traveling during the off-season when there are fewer tourists around and better rates on hotels and amenities for you and your dog to take advantage of. 

2. Pack the Essentials

Like you, your dog will need its own suitcase to pack the essentials, such as the following items:

  • Collapsable bowls
  • Dog food and water
  • Treats
  • Toys
  • Dog bed
  • A crate
  • Leash
  • Medicines, such as for fleas and ticks

You’ll also want to remember your pet’s travel documents and medical records in case there’s an emergency. 

3. Download Dog-Friendly Apps

Figuring out how to travel with a dog is as simple as hitting a button. Before you’re trip, search for and download dog-friendly apps to your smartphone. Some apps that might interest you include:

  • All Trails: Delivering over 350,000 curated trail maps you can filter to find dog-friendly hiking trails
  • Pet First Aid by American Red Cross: Allows you to locate the nearest animal hospital and emergency pet services and guidelines
  • Bring Fido: Hosts an extensive collection of pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, shops and amenities

It’s best to be prepared for anything when vacationing with your pet. The more resources you have available, the better.

4. Bring a Pet Carrier

A smaller breed might find it challenging to keep up on longer hikes. Likewise, you might not want your dog roaming in the car while you’re behind the wheel.

A pet carrier will make traveling with your pet much more manageable, and you have plenty of options to choose from. 

From crating your dog in the back seat of your car to purchasing a dog carrier backpack, you can find a carrier product that works best for you.

5. Check Airline Policies

The most crucial tip for flying with your dog is to check the airline’s pet policies — then double and triple-check them. 

The rules constantly change for flying with pets and you’ll want to ensure that your dog will be safe and allowed on the flight. For instance, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that any pets traveling in the plane’s cabin area must be crated and able to fit underneath the seat in front of you.

Your best option is to check the airline’s website and call to speak with an agent directly to verify their policies. 

6. Seek Other Dog Travelers

If you hope to give your fur baby the best trip of their life, you’ll want to let them socialize with other dogs. Seek out fellow dog travelers to meet up with during your trip. Some ways you can do this include:

  • Going for walks with your dog in a new neighborhood
  • Looking up social media hashtags, such as #dogsof, followed by your destination to find local pups your dog can play with
  • Visiting dog parks
  • Joining online communities and meetup forums

Finding other dog parents might require creativity on your part, but you’re bound to make new friends for yourself, too.

7. Train Your Dog

Before you go anywhere, ensure your dog’s well-trained in the basic commands. Doing so will allow you to leave them at the hotel for an hour or two while you go to dinner.

Obedience matters for safety reasons, too. Studies show that 60% to 70% of dogs bark aggressively at strangers when they’re nervous. This can be particularly dangerous when they feel threatened by a child.

Training your dog ensures they’re ready to see the world — not to mention a well-behaved dog is more likely to be welcome wherever they go.

What Is The Best Way to Travel With a Dog?

When planning your trip, you’ll need to decide whether you will go by car, plane or train. Which is best for a pooch? That depends on several factors, including your dog’s temperament. If your dog gets antsy in the car, a 10-hour drive is probably unrealistic. A pup with separation anxiety, on the other hand, may not handle a flight as well.

If you plan to drive, be sure to have a safe way to secure your dog in the car. Allowing them to wander free can be dangerous. You’ll also need to factor in bathroom breaks and have snacks and water available.

When flying, try to find non-stop flights when possible. A direct flight with minimal loading and unloading can be less stressful for pets.

Should You Sedate Your Pet Before Traveling?

Experts do not recommend sedating pets for air travel. It can increase the risk of heart and respiratory problems and sometimes cause animals to panic even more. Many airlines will not allow obviously sedated animals on the plane.

How Can I Make Sure My Dog Is Safe?

No matter how you’re traveling, safety should be your top priority. When flying, be sure to research best practices and check your airline’s regulations. If your dog is less than 20 pounds, kennel included, you may consider keeping your dog at your seat. If you have a larger dog, they will most likely be safe in the plane’s cargo.

When driving, be sure your pet is secure in the vehicle and drive cautiously.

Before traveling, keep your dog well-hydrated and ensure they’ve taken any important medication.

Are You Ready to Hit the Road With Your Dog?

Now that you’re aware of these essential tips on how to travel with a dog, you can focus on having fun. Taking your dog on vacation with you will undoubtedly make for a more exciting trip. In fact, you might never want to leave your new travel buddy behind again.  

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